Amid loud cheers, a sea of red jackets and high-five greetings, City Year Orlando officially launched Oct. 3, as 49 young AmeriCorps members pledged a year of service to help local students succeed.
Held at Universal Orlando CityWalk, the event drew hundreds of business, education and community leaders, who celebrated the arrival of the national peer-mentoring program.
As a local funding partner, Heart of Florida United Way is sponsoring a team of 10 City Year corps members at Evans High School. Additional teams are serving at Meadowbrook, Memorial and Walker Middle schools, as well as Oak Ridge High School.
During the celebration, City Year co-founder and national CEO Michael Brown described the nation’s high-school dropout crisis a ‘fast track to the underclass’ for millions of students who face greater risk of poverty, poor health and incarceration.
America’s Next Moon Shot
Solving the crisis, he challenged, must be America’s next moon shot ‒ a national cause that galvanizes the nation. “If left unchecked, the 12 million students who will dropout over the next decade will cost the nation a whopping $3 trillion, not to mention the incalculable cost of lost hope and unmet potential,” he said.
Based on research and 24 years of success, City Year sends trained role models into high-need schools, where they provide tutoring, mentoring and small-group instruction ‒ all proven to help students stay on track and graduate on time. An estimated 3,000 Orange County Public School students will benefit this year, with further expansion planned. Overall, City Year serves more than 150,000 students in 23 U.S. cities, including Miami, Chicago, Boston, Denver and Jacksonville.
‘Sticks in a Bundle Don’t Break’
According to Dr. Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, the program provides the critical support many students need. “There’s a saying that sticks in a bundle don’t break,” Jenkins said. “Some kids are fragile and need extra bundles around them to achieve success. That’s what City Year is all about.”
Focusing on ABC’s
“Research shows that helping students focus on the ABC’s – Attendance, Behavior, Course Performance and College Access ‒ has a huge impact in improving graduation rates and lifelong success,” said Joan Nelson, United Way Vice President of Community Investment and a member of the City Year Orlando Founding Committee. “As part of United Way’s focus on education, our organization is proud to sponsor City Year and extremely excited about what lies ahead.”
City Year Orlando’s founding sponsors include Orange County Public Schools, Volunteer Florida and the Michael and Kim Ward Foundation. In addition to United Way, local City Year team sponsors include CSX, Darden Foundation, Universal Orlando Foundation and Wells Fargo. Local City Year sponsors and supporters include JPMorgan Chase, Tupperware Brands Corporation, LYNX, Baker & Hostetler, Brad and Cori Meltzer Foundation and SunTrust Bank.