Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Spotlight:
University of Central Florida Foundation
By Josh Cohen, OrlandoMagic.com
ORLANDO — For those who have experienced college life, you know how strenuous being a student can sometimes be.
At the University of Central Florida, however, there is help for many young adults trying to overcome all the stress and complexities that come with being a college student. The First Generation Program, which provides disadvantaged students with all the necessary tools to succeed at UCF and beyond, has proven to be a huge boost for many aspiring professionals.
And now with assistance from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, even more UCF students are receiving supreme guidance. Earlier this year, UCF’s First Generation Program was one of 25 nonprofit organizations to earn financial assistance from the OMYF-MFF.
“We are extremely grateful to the Orlando Magic for providing us with this funding (which totaled $35,000),” said Belinda Boston, assistant vice president of student development and enrollment services at UCF. “In the way we use this money, we say it helps to keep kids in school. That’s our main focus.”
Students who enter into the program receive many benefits, including one-on-one guidance and advising from UCF staff, resources on financial concerns and scholarships and special opportunities to connect with community professionals.
“Our First Generation students don’t really have a support system at home when they come to college,” Boston said. “We help them build a network to survive and navigate the university system.”
By the time these students graduate, they often have gained so much extra knowledge and are ready to go on job interviews and succeed in their careers. Learning how to prepare a resume and tips on how to dress for success are just two examples of things acquired from the program.
A grand sum of $600,000 was awarded to 25 nonprofit organizations in January from the OMYF-MFF. A total of $3.8 million has been awarded by OMYF-MFF over the past four years and more than $18.8 million in the past 24 years.
Magic community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 6,000 volunteer hours annually.
“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.”
The 2014 grant recipients are: 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