OMYF Community Spotlight: Foundation for Orange County Public Schools
By Josh Cohen
August 24, 2012
ORLANDO -- The Orlando Magic are on a quest. They want to make sure as many children as possible can read fluently by the time they enter the third grade.
In effect, the Magic are helping fund the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools’ Read2Succeed program, which served nearly 200 second graders last school year. The program is simple yet effective.
Read2Succeed utilizes a research-based curriculum, “The Six-Minute Solution,” which rapidly builds reading fluency through interactive, peer-to-peer repeated readings of high interest passages. As for the results, the program is working. Students showed 110 percent improvement in their Oral Reading Fluency scores as measured by the Florida Assessment in Reading (FAIR) and 96 percent of participating teachers agreed the program positively impacted students’ ability to read better.
“The ultimate goal is for every kid to pass their third grade FCAT,” said Cindy Williams, executive director for Read2Succeed. “If kids aren’t able to read well by third grade, it will be difficult for them to achieve in school.”
Last January, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), granted $50,000 to this program and $1 million total to 19 different organizations throughout Central Florida. The financial assistance is having a huge impact on Read2Succeed.
First off, some of the money has gone to adding more material for the program such as the reading passages and supplies for the teachers. Second, the contributions allowed the organization to hire a coordinator, who plays a big role in finding volunteers/mentors to help teach the children. (If you can give one hour a week to help children read, please contact the Foundation at FoundationforOCPS.org or 407-317-3261 today.)
Moreover, the funds are opening new doors for the program. Starting this January, Read2Succeed will expand to the first grade and introduce a pilot program at four elementary schools. This curriculum will focus on at-risk first graders to help them build their vocabulary.
It doesn’t stop there. This school year, Read2Succeed has implemented an online-based program, Empower3000, to help accelerate reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing proficiency at Edgewater High School. Empower3000 allows every student to read the same material, but the content is differentiated according to each learner’s precise reading level and instructional needs.
“We are very excited about all these new projects,” Williams said. “We believe they will help a wider range of kids.”
The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has been providing matching funds for the OMYF since 1994 (OMYF-MFF).
“Through the OMYF-MFF, we are proud to provide deserving organizations like the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools with additional resources to further all the good work they do with their Read2Succeed program,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “The Magic has made literacy and education one of its main points of emphasis in the community. Educating our youth is really the key to the success of our community and obviously reading plays a fundamental role in learning.”
To learn more or make a difference with a donation, visit omyf.org.