Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Distributes Over $1 Million to 17 Central Florida Organizations

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - A word Orlando Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley frequently used throughout the 2021-22 season when describing the state of the team was “growth.”

After many of their practices, games, and other team functions during the season, Mosley raved about the progress he was seeing from this young squad. Their collective spirit, enthusiasm, and determination helped them withstand many of the challenges they were faced with, including injuries and inexperience.

For the Magic as a whole, helping others recognize the potential they have and showing them what it takes to achieve their goals, no matter how lofty they may be, is something that spreads beyond the hardwood. Daily, the Magic use their platform to give back to their community.

That was again conspicuous Sunday, as just an hour before the Magic tipped off their final game of the season against the Miami Heat at Amway Center, their charitable arm, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF), distributed over $1 million to a combined 17 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping at-risk children accomplish their goals.

“It’s great that we are able to do it working through the foundation with so many people who contribute to the foundation,” Magic Chairman Dan DeVos said. “Putting it in the hands of people who really make a difference here. These are the people on the ground every day working hard making a difference, so we are very proud to be able to associate with them.”

Even though they each offer their own set of unique services and programs, these agencies share plenty in common. Topping that list, without a doubt, is emboldening youth.

During Sunday’s ceremony, grant recipient representatives got a chance to bounce ideas off one another and game-plan for future projects. That’s a big deal for an organization like Harbor House, one of the four nonprofits that received $100,000 to specifically address critical needs in the areas of COVID-19 support and social justice and racial equity issues.

“We have an amazing community of support network, as far as a lot of the nonprofits that are out in the community, and then also the people who want to support,” Harbor House CEO Michelle Sperzel said. “Coming to things like this, I learn more about different nonprofits that we can partner with, and also celebrate people we already are in partnership with, and that in and of itself is fantastic because we share a lot of the same kids. That is a beautiful thing.”

This marks the 14th time that at least $1 million has been donated through the OMYF since inception. Each year, the Magic gives more than $2 million to Central Florida by way of sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise and grants. At the heart of the Magic’s charitable efforts is the work done by the OMYF, which is committed to helping children in Central Florida realize their full potential, especially those most at-risk, by supporting nonprofit organizations offering youth-based programs in the areas of education, housing/homelessness, the arts and health programs focused on preventing childhood obesity.

“These organizations are doing incredible work in our community, particularly with our children that are at-risk, and for us to be able to give a small check to them to help them with their work and help them grow their impact they are having in the Central Florida community is incredibly gratifying,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “It’s been a great journey under the ownership of the Orlando Magic by the DeVos family…This is a great day for us. This is one of our favorite days of the year.”

The DeVos family’s investment in the OMYF covers all administrative costs which allows for 100 percent of all donations to go directly to the foundation to benefit children and families in need throughout Central Florida each year. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and the Orlando Wine Festival & Auction.

The Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, the signature fundraiser for the OMYF, was held March 19, 2022 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. The weekend of events featured exclusive vintner dinners, an outdoor festival featuring live music, live auction displays, an e-auction, local and celebrity chefs, wineries, and food pavilions, along with Magic players and coaches. Each guest also received an invitation to today's OMYF grant ceremony, where all funds from the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, along with other fundraising opportunities, were distributed to these local nonprofit organizations here today. This year's Orlando Wine Festival & Auction raised nearly $700,000 for the OMYF.

In addition to the OMYF’s fundraising efforts, the DeVos Family Foundation is donating a total of $3 million to 30 area nonprofit organizations as part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years initiative, which aims to invest in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida. The DeVos family also assisted the OMYF with fundraising efforts in 2021, providing $700,000 to the foundation to make up for the shortfall due to the pandemic and the OMYF not being able to hold its usual fundraising events. Through that donation, the OMYF was once again able to reach the $1 million milestone in 2021 to help at-risk youth and families in Central Florida.

“The DeVos family made a very incredible impact on our community,” OMYF President Linda Landman Gonzalez said. “They, too, said these have not been a normal two years. They came together and asked how we can we go over and above what OMYF and the Magic do to really (make an) impact. Three million (dollars) for 30 grants is unprecedented. We’ve never done this before. It’s been extraordinary.”

Here is a list of the 2022 grant recipients and the amount they each received at Sunday’s ceremony:

Each of these 13 organizations received $50,000 grants

OMYF is proud to partner with City Year Orlando with a $50,000 grant investment Whole School Whole Child Team Sponsorship which delivers robust local engagement and visibility by supporting student success, employee involvement, and community investment. Funding will support 2,400 Evans High School students with math, literacy, and mentoring programs.

With a mission to provide every child with equal access to high quality early learning programs by supporting those who help children grow and develop, the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County’s vision is for every child in Orange County to enter kindergarten with the foundation necessary to reach their full potential. The ABC Infant and Toddler Care program will receive $50,000 to expand quality care and facilitates teacher development programs.

ELEVATE Orlando will receive $50,000 to support their College and Career Pipeline Program, offering exposure and guidance to emerging industries and preparing students for thriving careers. Students are inspired to achieve academic success, visualize their futures, and prepare for their post-secondary journey.

Hebni Nutrition Consultants will receive a $50,000 grant to expand the Kyds Healthy Habits Program to reach 80 middle and high school low-income, minority youth who are at risk of obesity and other nutrition related diseases. The program teaches students the importance of eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, including growing their own vegetables and cooking healthy meals.

With their vision of being the premier center of hope and empowerment for Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities, Hope Community Center is receiving a $50,000 grant for their Hearing Our Stories program. 130 elementary school students and 50 middle school students will create a sense of belonging through art education.

IMPOWER is dedicated to changing lives by protecting, counseling, teaching and inspiring individuals and families to reach their full potential. The Village Youth Homelessness Prevention and Transitional Housing program will receive $50,000 to help build life-skills, promote education, employment advocacy, and more.

Using dance to provide life changing opportunities for those who might not otherwise have the chance, Scholarship Training for the Enrichment of Primary Students (STEPS) provides free ballet classes to second and third graders at Title I schools in Orange and Seminole counties. OMYF will be distributing $50,000 to the Orlando Ballet STEPS program to improve the lives of children through the power of dance.

Encouraging students to use theater to build critical life skills by exposing them to high-quality, professional productions and arts integration experiences in the classroom. Orlando Shakes will be receiving $50,000 to provide accessible and inclusive programming of “Magic Tree House: The Jackie Robinson Story” to 50 Title I schools in Orange County with accompanying arts education programming.

Page 15 transforms lives through the power of words by using creative writing as the medium of self-expression. They are receiving a $50,000 grant to continue to help youth, many at-risk due to poverty and trauma, discover their own voice and build confidence and resiliency.

Professional Opportunities Programs for Students (POPS) mission is to enrich teenagers’ life experiences as they transition into adulthood by providing personal and professional development opportunities. OMYF will be providing a $50,000 Grant for their P2DP Program to give at-risk high school students personalized development plans to prepare them for a positive future.

WUCF, Central Florida’s PBS Station, provides strategies that take a whole-child approach to preparing children for kindergarten and is accessible to the entire community through PBS Kids. The On My Way to K program will receive a $50,000 grant to expand and meet the evolving education needs of children and their caregivers.

Empowering middle and high school girls to pursue (STEM) science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, Tech Sassy girls is receiving $50,000 to support college preparation, career readiness, mentoring, and entrepreneurship programs.

Zebra Coalition works with fifty-one separate agency partners to provide a continuum of vital services for homeless LGBTQ+ youth clients. Creating a community where LGBTQ+ youth feel safe, empowered and inspired, Zebra Coalition will receive $50,000 for their Mental Health program.

FOCUS AREA GRANTS (each of these four organizations received $100,000 grants):
OMYF is taking an even greater role in the Central Florida community by investing in and strengthening our existing partnerships, especially those that most strategically align with their mission and focus areas. For the 2022 OMYF grant cycle, they will be distributing $100,000 for four non-profit partners who have specifically addressed the critical needs in the areas of COVID-19 Support and Social Justice and Racial Equity issues.

The Foundation for Foster Children EDUCATE Program provides a comprehensive approach to improving the educational outcomes of foster youth at each grade level. OMYF funding of $100,000 will support the expansion and scale of services offered to improve academic performance and outcomes, as well as long-term scholastic success for our community’s foster children.

Read2Succeed enables elementary school students to build critical literacy skills, giving young readers a strong literacy foundation and the support to increase their literacy knowledge and reading comprehension. Receiving $100,000, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools.

Providing critical life-saving services to survivors of domestic abuse in Central Florida, Harbor House reduces transmission of intergenerational violence through interventions at Camp HOPE. OMYF funding of $100,000 will support their life saving mission and provide hope for the future.

The largest non-profit focused on supporting and strengthening communities with neighborhood-based services, the YMCA of Central Florida is receiving a $100,000 grant for the Links 2 Learning Program. This out of school program focuses on high school graduation rates, successful entry and completion at post-secondary education and life-skill development.

GRAND TOTAL: $1,050,000 to Central Florida