Mar 28, 2024

Florida Lottery, Department of Education visit Jones High School to promote Bright Futures Scholarship Program

Flanked by top representatives from OCPS and the Florida Department of Education, Secretary John Davis of the Florida Lottery took the stage in the Jones High School auditorium Tuesday to deliver an important message to 150 Tigers freshmen and sophomores about the Bright Futures scholarship program.

The initiative, supported by the Lottery, has helped more than 950,000 Florida students attend a postsecondary institution in the Sunshine State since its establishment in 1997, with many attending state universities and vocational schools at little or no cost.

“We’re here today and will continue to work with organizations like Florida Citrus Sports, Take Stock in Children, Junior Achievement and others in Central Florida to make sure that you all are aware of these opportunities,” Davis said of the program, available to students throughout Florida who meet certain grade point average, testing and community service requirements. “And we want to start early — we don’t want you to wait until 11th grade (to think about college).”

A Pahokee, Florida, native and former Florida State football player who attended college on an athletics scholarship, Davis drew on his gridiron experience to help illustrate the importance of preparing early for the future.

“I started playing football when I was in middle school, and early on, I was watching the sport — and that’s what most of us do,” Davis said. “We make sure we have the resources to be greater on the football field. Well, we’ve got to do the exact same thing in the classroom. And the onus, it’s not just the students. It’s also on the faculty, it’s on the teachers, it’s on the parents, and it’s on other organizations within this community to make sure we’re doing our part.”

Once the top free safety recruit in the country, Davis (photo above courtesy Florida State Athletics) also offered the students in attendance — many of them athletes themselves — a three-step guide to set themselves up for success in the classroom and on the field.

“No. 1, make sure that you’re always prepared and work to be your absolute best at any and everything you get involved in,” Davis said. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing — never let anybody tell you what you can’t do. … No. 2, to always do the right thing. No matter what it may be, always strive to do the right thing. … And No. 3, find your purpose in life and never, ever give up on your dreams.”

According to Davis, approximately 27 percent of each lottery ticket sold in the state is funneled back into education, with more than $2.4 billion added to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund during the most recent fiscal year. Florida Citrus Sports has been a Florida Lottery partner since 2015, working with Davis and other leaders to maximize the reach of the Bright Futures program in The Communities of West Lakes and throughout Central Florida.

“We appreciate the work (Florida Citrus Sports) has been a part of, starting with Lift Orlando and other opportunities right here in this ZIP code, in this community,” Davis said as he recognized FCS CEO Steve Hogan in the crowd. “We’re very fortunate to work with individuals like Steve and his team as a part of the work that we do.”

Others in attendance at the event included Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez and Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., each of whom praised Davis and the Lottery for bringing hope to families in the nation’s third-largest state.

“The burden of paying for college on their families is something that they don’t want, so many postpone ,” Dr. Vazquez said. “Many believe that they can’t go to college because they can’t fathom where the money is going to come from, but I’m here to tell you that you can attend college and not have to worry about that burden.”

“I want to personally thank (Davis) for his partnership,” Diaz added during his own remarks. “Because the Lottery’s role is to generate revenue for the state and for these programs, but this secretary – Secretary John Davis – has made it a point that we go out and raise awareness and make sure that all of you, in all parts of the state, are aware of these opportunities.”

To learn more about the scholarship options available, visit or click the image below.


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