improving family life,
knowledge and understanding!
A Short History
The Community Service Center has been an integral partner in our efforts to prepare these foster youth for work and life. Upon hearing of the City of Life efforts, Community Service Center expanded its job preparation program to meet the needs of older and former foster youth. With grants from Workforce Central Florida and Dr. Phillips Foundation, they have prepared and placed youth who otherwise would be unemployed and homeless. The Community Service Center has also led efforts to provide "move in" baskets for foster youth moving into an apartment for the first time. They also led the efforts to expand the services of Heart of Florida United Way's 211 to meet the needs of foster youth.
Other partners have helped address barriers to foster youth normal experiences that prevent them from developing the skills they need to succeed as adults. Central Florida Education Credit Union has offered bank accounts to foster youth without an adult co-signor which is a barrier to many foster children. Orange County Library System has offered library cards to foster youth under a special program.
Additional Corporate partners began to meet special needs of the youth. Fidelity National Title adopted a group home of older girls and provided support and mentorship. Cura Script Pharmeceutical provided holiday celebrations and presents for the youth. The Orlando Philarmonic, SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando Repertory Theatre and Orlando Science Center provided cultural experiences for the youth.
As City of Life addressed these problems, we began to work on a community strategic plan. Over a thirteen month period, a group of knowledgeable community members along with foster youth met to access what is needed to help these youth succeed and what can be accomplished in three to five years. This group met every three weeks for over a year to develop the City of Life Strategic Plan to Meet the Needs of Foster Youth Aging Out of the System. This plan will guide the City of Life in our efforts over the next few years. Many entities have committed to fulfilling this plan. City of Life is committed to ensure progress. We appreciate you joining us on this campaign.Type your paragraph here.Type your paragraph here.
The City of Life Foundation was created by Orlando resident Mary DeMetree to help at risk youth in Central Florida in 2002. This follows her family's long-time commitment to helping youth, especially foster youth. The goal is to provide opportunities for these youth to succeed. By coordinating existing community resources to meet the needs of these young adults without families City of Life helps get them on the path to leading productive lives.
Patrick Buffa began telling the story of older and former foster youth and their struggles. The community quickly rallied behind this issue. Early partners included juvenile judges, Edyth Bush Foundation, Valencia Community College and Orange County Government.
As the organization developed, corporate partners rose to the challenge. Upon hearing that these youth struggle to acquire jobs because of housing and transportation, Westgate Resorts offered an opportunity to these youth. Westgate offer jobs with housing at one of its resorts and provides mentorship and support. This project is now a national model of partnership between the social service and corporate communities. Starwood Resorts has now followed Westgate's model and offers former foster youth an apartment, job and mentor to succeed as an employee. Others including Universal Studios and OUC are developing similar programs for these youth.
While developing these partnerships, City of Life developed educational programs for older foster youth. With the sponsorship of many including Universal Studios, Rosen Resorts, Mears Transportation, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Family Services of Metro Orlando, Orange County Public Schools, Valencia Community College, University of Central Florida and Workforce Central Florida, the City of Life held a Fall Education Fair and Spring Career Fair for older foster youth every year for the last three years. These events provided these youth with information and inspiration on their future. In the Education Fair, the youth learned of the post-secondary options including vocational educational options available. There were representatives from all the programs available to assist the youth in choosing their future. In the Career Fair, the youth learned the options for first jobs as well as forever jobs. Through these many efforts, the City of Life began to identify and to develop partnerships with the social service agencies. The City of Life does not want to build a new social service agency. We want to leverage existing resources to meet the needs of these vulnerable youth. Two major partners in this effort have been Family Services of Metro Orlando and Community Service Center. As the manager of the Foster Care system in Orange and Osceola County, Family Services of Metro Orlando has provided tremendous support to our efforts.