OMYF Spotlight: Foundation for Orange County Public Schools

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO – Many Orlando Magic players over the years have participated in outreach programs to help young kids improve their literacy skills. One of them is Jonathan Isaac, who has gone above and beyond since joining the Magic to raise awareness about the importance of reading.

Last season, for instance, the 6-foot-11, 230-pounder visited students at Hungerford Elementary School in Eatonville and read children’s books to them as part of the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools’ (FOCPS) Read2Succeed program. Isaac also called attention to the importance of grade level reading by wearing green during a particular game while raising money for the cause.

The alliance between the Magic, their players and FOCPS has helped many kids in the area become lifelong learners and build their vocabulary through supplemental reading programs. The latest contribution made by the team came earlier this year when the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) donated $50,000 to FOCPS, which will go towards helping even more at-risk children develop stronger literacy skills through Read2Succeed.

The staff at FOCPS, including Senior Director Debi Pedraza, is grateful every time they hear that OMYF has chosen their organization as one of the grant recipients.

“We are extremely grateful. We count on all of our partners. The Orlando Magic have been a longstanding partner for us, specifically with helping make sure our kids can read in the community,” Pedraza said last year at OMYF’s annual grant ceremony. “Our Read2Succeed program takes care of that fundamental skill. We are very grateful for the support. We cannot do it without them (the Magic).”

The financial boost from the Magic has helped expand and augment Read2Succeed. FOCPS has been able to hire more certified tutors and buy more books and other reading material for the children with the OMYF’s donations over the years.

“The growth of the program is largely based on being able to resource it properly and the Orlando Magic have been a key part of that,” Pedraza said.

Over the past 30 years, more than $25 million has been distributed by the OMYF to empower Central Florida children. 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 upcoming 2020 Orlando Wine Festival and Auction.

The second annual Orlando Wine Festival and Auction, the signature fundraiser for the OMYF, will be held March 13-15, 2020 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. The weekend of events is set to feature 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 receives an invitation to the OMYF grant ceremony, where all funds from the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction will be distributed to local nonprofit organizations. Last year's Orlando Wine Festival & Auction raised $900,000 for the OMYF.

Recently, the Magic and Magellan Jets, the sponsor of the Wine Festival’s live auction this year, unveiled many of the packages that will be available for guests of the event to bid on. They include an Aspen retreat, a harvest experience at Rudd Estate and tickets to next year’s Super Bowl in Tampa.

“The great thing about the event is the cause, first and foremost,” said John Amato, Magellan Jets’ Vice President of Aviation Consulting. “I love the fact that between the Magic and the DeVos family, they are doing such a great thing for the community. Our connection to Orlando runs very deep. And for us, who better to partner with than an organization that shares the same ideals, the same corporate core values as we do and that was evident from the very first meeting we had with them.”

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