Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Spotlight: Elevate Orlando

By John Denton
Aug. 25, 2014

ORLANDO – Often faced with a lack of admirable adult figures and positive role models in their lives, disadvantaged youth often stray into trouble with no one there to provide direction. Elevate Orlando is doing what it can to give teens more structure in their lives and hope for the future.

Elevate Orlando is a civic nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping and empowering underserved youth to graduate with a plan for the future. Elevate Orlando links the Orlando business community to underserved areas through education. This is accomplished through mentoring relationships and public school courses rooted in character education and leadership development.

“If I wasn’t part of Elevate I think I would be lost and off track,’’ said Fredo Alexander, a member of 2014’s graduating class at Evans High School. “I probably would have been down the wrong road, hanging with the wrong crowds without Elevate Orlando.”

And then there was this testimonial from fellow Class of 2014 mate Ludy Martinez: “It’s beyond school inside the Elevate classroom. I had hope, but it was very little. After I got into Elevate, I thought I could do anything.”

Elevate Orlando’s abilities to make a difference in the lives of youth throughout Central Florida got a big assist last fall when it was given a $30,000 grant by the Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF).

The grant money went toward the “Elevate More Students” program, which provides at-risk youth, grades 4 -12, with character development, mentoring and leadership classes during and after school. The program also assists students in developing a plan for admissions to college, the military or trade school. OMYF-MFF funding will allow Elevate to maintain and expand their life-changing program to an additional 120 new students on a weekly basis.

“Although you can’t take the place of biological parents, I think our teacher/mentors do a fantastic job of stepping in where there’s a void,” said Steve Cosler, an Elevate Orlando board of director.

In the last 24 years more than $18 million has been distributed to local nonprofit community organizations through the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, which serves at-risk youth.

This past year alone, the OMYF-MFF awarded $600,000 in grants to 25 nonprofit organizations based throughout Central Florida. The 25 grantees were a nod to the Magic’s year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary season. The $600,000 in grants given out in January raised the total to $3.8 million awarded over the past four years.

“We really do get to impact youth by helping all of the great work that all of these organizations are doing,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “There are hundreds of youth organizations throughout Central Florida who are doing great work to help at-risk youth and set them on a path for a better life. This is just a small way for us to try and help them do their work. They do all of the work, and for us to be able to distribute all of these funds and expand the number of youth that they serve or add another program, it’s incredibly meaningful to us.’’

Here is a closer look at Elevate Orlando’s mission and the Magic’s work in the Central Florida community:

2014 GRANT RECIPIENTS FROM MAGIC: Adult Literacy League, Apopka Family Learning Center, BETA Center, Boys Town Central Florida, Children’s Home Society of Florida, City Year, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Elevate Orlando, Florida Hospital for Children, Foundation for Foster Children, Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, Gift of Swimming, Harbor House of Central Florida, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, Orange County Library System, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Osceola Council on Aging, Rescue Outreach Mission of Central Florida, The Center for Drug Free Living-Zebra Coalition, The Salvation Army, University of Central Florida Foundation, Valencia College Foundation.

FEATURED ORGANIZATION: Elevate Orlando

ELEVATE ORLANDO’S PURPOSE: The organization is dedicated to equipping and empowering underserved youth to graduate with a plan for the future. Elevate Orlando links the Orlando business community to underserved areas through education. This is accomplished through mentoring relationships and public school courses rooted in character education and leadership development.

2014 GRANT MONEY TO ELEVATE ORLANDO: $30,000

ELEVATE ORLANDO QUOTE: “The mission of Elevate Orlando is to equip urban youth to graduate with a plan for the future. We’re planning to be a part of the solution so that we can see lives changed and on a new path forward.” – Jack McGill, Elevate Orlando president

ORLANDO MAGIC QUOTE: “I’m really proud of what the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has been able to do and the commitment that they have to Central Florida and so many organizations. The Orlando Magic Youth Fund, as part of the McCormick Fund, has been able to donate $18 million to more than 500 nonprofit organizations and have a positive impact on 1 million youth throughout the community. That’s impressive. My family is very dedicated to this organization and to this community and it’s just great to see the response of organizations and the results that they are able to achieve.” – Magic Chairman Dan DeVos

To learn more about the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, visit here