The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the Education Foundation of Osceola County, and the Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) were recipients of a $45,000 donation through the 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative. Representatives are joined by DeVos family members Doug DeVos, Maria DeVos, Ryan DeVos, and Michelle DeVos.

DeVos Family Foundation’s Donation to Three County Public School District Foundations Helps Enhance Local Educational Programs by Connecting More Students with Encouraging Mentors

ORLANDO - It’s critical for children to have positive role models in their lives. When they do, they are more likely to excel in school, develop career aspirations, and build healthy relationships. 

As the late Rich DeVos famously shared, “Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough.”

With that in mind, organizations such as the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the Education Foundation of Osceola County, and the Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools (SCPS) continue to intentionally grow and enhance their youth mentoring programs to accelerate student success. By providing mentorship, advocacy, skills workshops and support, these programs break the cycle of poverty by empowering students with the chance to pursue post-secondary education and prepare for a career instead of a job.

Now, thanks to a $45,000 donation from the DeVos Family Foundation, as part of their 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, these three organizations will be able to connect more students with mentors, enhancing public education for students, teachers, and families; and creating scholarship opportunities for graduates. 

“I thought that was a special way to show how much they care about a community that they have supported for 30 years, providing role models for our students and all of our kids,” said Deborah Pedraza, the executive director at Foundation for OCPS. “They have enriched the community in so many ways, and this additional investment in our kids right here in our community, is very, very special. I’m very grateful for it.” 

Throughout Central Florida, there is an ongoing need for the support offered by the foundations in all three counties. In Seminole County alone, there are nearly 2,000 homeless students, with almost half of their students participating in free and reduced lunch programs. 

“We need to make sure that the kids have what they need to be successful in class, they have the supplies they need, they have supportive adults in their lives, and they have access to great teachers and resources,” said Jean Vansmith, the executive director at Foundation for SCPS. 

Along with ensuring those resources, all three of the foundations look to provide programs for students with intentional strategies aimed at closing the achievement gap and uncovering opportunities that will lead to college, career, and life readiness. 

“This grant is very impactful in that it will change hundreds of lives for students here in Osceola County,” said Kerry Avery, executive director at Education Foundation Osceola County. 

Staff members at all three foundations get great joy out of watching a child blossom while finding their voice and building their confidence. Through all of their programs, which are designed to either accelerate student achievement, support teachers, and prepare youth for their future careers, they have paved the way for students to reach their goals in and out of the classroom.  

“It’s magical,” Pedraza said. “Just watching them become who they are going to be as a person. It’s hard to describe. But even in my own volunteering, just watching the light bulbs go off in a child’s eye when they finally grasp a concept, or they finally do it themselves. Anyone who is a favorite aunt, a favorite uncle, or a parent knows that feeling. But, it’s even more powerful when you are able to do it for a child who’s not your own. These programs that allow people to mentor and have that connection with the kids create that magic.” 

As part of the DeVos family's 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million has been donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over 18 months, investing in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.  

“There are tremendous things happening in the Orlando community every day,” said Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. “We wanted to mark this 30-year milestone by coming alongside nonprofits in the community to assist them in their important work.”