When school is out for the summer, fewer critical resources are available for Central Florida’s growing population of homeless children. To fill this need, the City of Orlando has partnered with Fifth Third Bank for The Summer of Dreams, a free, 10-week program that provides homeless students with meals, academic enrichment, mentoring and school supplies, as well as financial counseling for parents and students.
More than 11,000 children are considered homeless in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. The Summer of Dreams program has helped serve more than 5,500 homeless children in the tri-county area since its inception in 2011. This program will offer homeless youth in our city the opportunity to be enrolled in our After-School All-Stars and recreation summer camps, receive breakfast, lunch and weekend food packs, as well as backpacks filled with school supplies for the upcoming school year.
Damon Brown, a seventh grader at Memorial Middle School, is entering his third year participating in the program and recently spoke about how The Summer of Dreams has impacted him.
“The Summer of Dreams program gives me a safe place to go every day during the summer,” he said. “This is the one place you are free to be a kid every day. In one summer day, I can build a robot in science class, learn a new beat in drum line, cleanup a park in my neighborhood and hit the game-winning home run in baseball. Plus I get to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
A decade ago our entire region made a commitment to ending homelessness. And while great strides have been made, there is still more work to be done, especially as it pertains to homeless families and students. Through our extensive youth programming, we are providing our city’s homeless children with services that not only offer them a safe place to flourish, but also educational opportunities needed to better position them for future success.
To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or how to get involved, click here.
– Buddy Dyer, Mayor