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Disney Awards Children’s Home Society of Florida $30,000 grant to support at-risk students

STEPS Program at Evans High School will provide academic support and mentoring

May 24, 2012 (Orlando, Fla.) — Disney recently awarded a $30,000 grant to Children’s Home Society of Florida that will be used to launch the STEPS program at Evans Community School located within Evans High School. STEPS targets the lowest performing and most at-risk ninth graders and follows students throughout all four years of high school. The program focuses on mentoring, character building, parental involvement and academic support. The grant was provided through Walt Disney World Resort’s Helping Kids Shine initiative.

 STEPS includes weekly after-school classes, and Evans High School alumni and community members will mentor students as they progress through high school. The program also includes character-building curriculum and involve parents through workshops, events and other resources available through Evans Community School.

Children’s Home Society of Florida accepted the grant during an event at the Orlando Repertory Theatre that included Mickey Mouse and dozens of VoluntEARS.  Organizations whose efforts align with Disney’s focus on creativity and innovation were invited to participate in the launch of the yearly grant program.

“We’re thrilled to receive additional resources to Evans Community School,” says Tara Hormell, Executive Director of Children’s Home Society of Florida, a founding partner of Evans Community School, along with the University of Central Florida and Orange County Public Schools. “The Disney Helping Kids Shine grant will allow Evans Community School to increase attendance, academic performance and graduation rates as well as improve the overall post-graduate success of students who complete the STEPS program.”

In addition to Children’s Home Society of Florida, 58 other organizations from Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties received grants totaling $1.5 million, representing a record for the Disney Helping Kids Shine program.

“At Walt Disney World Resort, our vision is to build on our philanthropic legacy by investing in programs that make a lasting change in our community and promote the happiness and well-being of children and families,” says Nancy Gidusko, director of community relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “These organizations represent the best of the best.”

Walt Disney World’s philanthropic focus is on helping families meet basic needs, youth development and education. Disney Helping Kids Shine grants support organizations in Central Florida that inspire creativity and innovation, encourage a sense of compassion for others, and promote the health and well-being of families.

Grant recipients were chosen by a 15-member committee that included Cast Members, community leaders, government officials, educators and entrepreneurs.

About Children's Home Society of Florida
Founded in 1902, Children's Home Society of Florida is the oldest and largest statewide private not-for-profit provider of services to children and families in Florida and delivers a full spectrum of prevention and intervention programs. Services include foster care, adoption, child development, emergency shelters, residential group homes, independent and transitional living for teens, parent education, counseling, mentoring, treatment for developmentally disabled children, and more. Children’s Home Society of Florida, which served more than 8,000 kids and families in Central Florida, helped nearly 200,000 children and families throughout the state last year. Children’s Home Society of Florida is headquartered in Winter Park, Fla.

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