Before Ivan Simon is asked about his dream job, he utters little more than a quiet “yes, sir” between questions. But he perks up as he describes his desire to study criminal justice upon graduating from high school.
“I want to be a police officer,” Ivan says, as his shy expression transforms into a brimming smile.
The junior at Dr. Phillips High School and 129 of his peers from across Orange County were recognized Thursday for their involvement with Take Stock in Children, a program dedicated to providing scholarships, mentors and opportunity to the underprivileged youth of Central Florida. The Florida Citrus Sports Foundation MVPs has been a major contributor to the organization, committing $1 million over five years.
“We started with 50 students, and Florida Citrus Sports was a big donor,” said the program’s executive director, Elisha Gonzalez-Bonnewitz.
“Our first graduating class is next year, so we’re very excited.”
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 21 percent of Florida’s youth live in poor families. These children are rarely afforded the same resources as those of a higher socioeconomic status, making a college degree nearly impossible to attain. The New York Times published a report this week highlighting the increasing disparity between the standardized test scores of affluent children and those from low-income families. The gap has widened some 40 percent since the 1960s, a Stanford University study found.
The goal for Take Stock is to continue to reduce the number of high school drop-outs and to increase the number of students who finish college and enter the workforce successfully. The organization strives to better the community through initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Central Florida’s youth, a vision shared by FCSports.
“Take Stock ties in with our summer camp because we offer scholarships to those involved with our program, as well,” said Joey Walters, director of FCSports Summer Camp. “It fits with what we believe in terms of trying to help economically disadvantaged kids.”
Take Stock in Children has aided more than 16,000 low-income students statewide, generating over one million mentor hours since 1995. The organization retains nearly $110 million in Florida Prepaid Foundation scholarship assets, funded from both the private and public sector.
For more information on becoming involved with the FCSports Foundation and its beneficiaries, please refer to the Foundation section of our Web site.