ORLANDO -- Providing an assist in times of need has been a hallmark of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation (OMYF) since its inception.
For the last 31 years, the OMYF has been a staple in the Central Florida community, supporting programs and partnerships that empower families and change lives. However, the need for their assistance has perhaps never been greater than it is right now. And once again, the OMYF has stepped up to the plate to provide resources to those that need it the most.
The OMYF announced and distributed grants totaling $700,000 to 12 nonprofit organizations spread across Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties on Thursday. Combined with $300,000 awarded in March 2021, the OMYF has distributed $1 million to area nonprofits in this calendar year – the 13th time it has hit that mark since OMYF’s founding in 1990.
The organization’s ability to reach such a milestone in 2021 was once in doubt. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OMYF was unable to hold fundraising events over the past year that traditionally helped to add to the total available for giving. To make up for that shortfall, Magic ownership – the DeVos family – provided $700,000 for 2021 grant-making activity, in addition to covering all operating expenses for the organization as it traditionally does.
“Giving to our community has always been a focal point in all that we do,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “It’s an example that was set from day one by Mr. and Mrs. (Rich and Helen) DeVos and has been carried on by the entire DeVos family and the Magic organization ever since. This has been a challenging year for so many and we’re excited to partner with community organizations to make a real impact on our area’s youth.”
OMYF assists at-risk children and families in Central Florida. Over the past 31 years, more than $26 million has been distributed to more than 500 local nonprofit community organizations – impacting more than two million at-risk kids through the OMYF.
"Kids deserve the very best,” said Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. “We believe that every child is capable of so much and programs such as the ones supported by OMYF are critically important to a young person on their path to reaching their full potential. Kudos and congratulations to these wonderful nonprofits and their staff members who make a world of difference every single day.”
Organizations receiving grants were selected through OMYF’s extensive five-phase review process that opened up in March following the announcement of the year’s initial gifts of $100,000 each to the following partnerships: AdventHealth Foundation/Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Orlando Science Center/Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida/Grace Medical Home, Inc.
"On behalf of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, it truly is our honor to partner and support all of the people and organizations who focus on the most important members of our community – our youth," said OMYF President Linda Landman Gonzalez. "Our hope is to make their very important work just a little bit easier and assist these amazing organizations who help the OMYF fulfill its commitment to underserved youth and families in Central Florida. It is the honor of a lifetime to be able to work with those inspiring people who are at the heart of what the OMYF is all about. We are especially grateful to the DeVos family for their generous donation, which has allowed us to reach our $1 million goal once again."
As in years past, the OMYF grant recipients were recognized and honored with each nonprofit organization presented with a specialty basketball or OMYF jersey. Representatives were greeted by Martins, Landman-Gonzalez, and virtually by Dan DeVos. Vice President of Shareholder Engagement Ryan DeVos and his wife Michelle were also in attendance.
Their extreme generosity elicited emotion from a number of the recipients and even brought some to tears.
“I’m going to try not to cry again,” said Pace Center for Girls - Orange County Privilege Director Rosene Johnson, who was brought to tears when she found out that her organization received $100,000. “That amount is really, truly, to me, is transformation because now it gives us that edge that we need to really take what we’re doing over the top and to make sure that we don’t have any girls fall behind. Again, I was beyond surprised. I was not ready.”
The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction. However, due to the pandemic, the Orlando Wine Festival and Auction was canceled in March 2020 and other fundraisers were not able to occur as planned.
“We are in the planning process of reestablishing our wine festival and auction for next spring,” Martins said. “And we look forward to having our second version of it and raising a lot more money than we did the last time.”
The Magic and the DeVos family are committed to making a difference in Central Florida. 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 Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.
The OMYF 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.
Here is a full list of the grant recipients:
2021 Grant Recipients and Grants Received – $1,000,000 total
CHILDREN’S HOME SOCIETY ($50,000)
Children’s Home Society of Florida continues to support the surge of mental health needs of underinsured Orange County students due to the effects of the pandemic. $50,000 in OMYF grant funding will provide counseling for over 500 students at Evans High School and ACE Community Partnership School facing the impacts due to the pandemic, economic loss, and distance learning.
CITY YEAR ORLANDO ($50,000)
OMYF is proud to partner with City Year Orlando with a $50,000 grant investment in the Team Sponsor Program, 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.
EARLY LEARNING COALITION OF ORANGE COUNTY ($50,000)
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 ($50,000)
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.
FOUNDATION FOR ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ($50,000)
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 $50,000, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools.
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.
ORLANDO BALLET ($50,000)
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.
ORLANDO SHAKES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH UCF ($50,000)
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 fund the production of “Every Brilliant Thing” in various Orange County High Schools, with accompanying arts and mental health education programming.
TECH SASSY GIRLZ ($50,000)
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.
VALENCIA COLLEGE FOUNDATION ($50,000)
Valencia College provides opportunities for academic, technical, and life-long learning in a collaborative culture dedicated to inquiry, results and excellence. The $50,000 grant will support the Horizon Scholars Program, designed to increase college access for low-income Orange County students through mentorship, advocacy, networking, and scholarships.
FOCUS AREA GRANTS
OMYF is taking an even greater role in the Central Florida community by investing in and strengthening its existing partnerships, especially those that most strategically align with the foundation's mission and focus areas. For the 2020-21 OMYF grant cycle, the foundation is distributing $100,000 for two nonprofit partners who have specifically addressed the critical needs in the areas of COVID-19 support and social justice and racial equity issues. The following organizations have effectively provided measurable criteria within these new pillars of giving.
FOUNDATION FOR FOSTER CHILDREN ($100,000)
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.
PACE CENTER FOR GIRLS – ORANGE ($100,000)
Pace Center for Girls provides academic programming for vulnerable middle and high school girls. This $100,000 OMYF grant will provide specialized curriculum and tutoring to meeting their needs, tools to help overcome trauma induced learning disabilities, continuing teacher education training, and dedicated academic advising in a safe and inviting environment.
For the 2019 grant cycle, the OMYF invited nonprofit agencies to apply for collaborative grants which are $300,000, multi-year grants, payable at $100,000 per year. Through these collaborative grants, the OMYF hopes to assist in building long-term, sustained relationships and create more impactful and lasting solutions to complex issues. This is the final year of the three-year collaborative grants.
ADVENTHEALTH FOUNDATION/HEBNI NUTRITION CONSULTANTS ($100,000)
Healthy Weight and Wellness (HWW) is AdventHealth for Children’s comprehensive program that leads children with overweight and obesity and their parents to improved weight, and overall better health for life. Partnering with Hebni Nutrition Consultants, the third year of this OMYF collaborative grant program will serve 110 new low-income children and families to offer healthy cooking workshops, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, weekly health coaching and more.
ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER/EARLY LEARNIG COALITION OF OSCEOLA COUNTY ($100,000)
Orlando Science Center and Early Learning Coalition of Osceola County continue to meet the needs of Pre-K science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM) with the Ignite Discovery program. The third year of their OMYF collaborative grant funding will provide professional development training for 150 early childhood educators throughout 50 classrooms. Hands-on, immersive and virtual classroom workshops for low income children will be offered, encouraging them to use STEM to explore and interpret their world.
SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF CENTRAL FLORIDA/GRACE MEDICAL HOME, INC. ($100,000)
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Grace Medical Home have partnered together to develop the Food is Medicine for Healthier Kids program. Entering the final phase of the three-year OMYF Collaborative Grant, the Food is Medicine for Healthier Kids program will improve the health of Grace pediatric patients by incorporating access to healthy food, nutrition education and counseling with the highest quality medical care for more than 100 low-income, uninsured children in Orange County.
GRAND TOTAL: $1,000,000 to Central Florida