In 2009, the City of Orlando had held a community-wide public safety survey, which was carried out by UCF that identified youth education and youth related crime as the highest concerns of City of Orlando residents. City programs such as the Mayor’s Matching Grant Program and the After School All Stars program were developed and realigned to target these community concerns and the City gave the following call to the community at large:
The City of Orlando believes the education of our community’s youth does not, nor should it, rest with one organization or entity. The educational development of our children demands a comprehensive and complimenting set of contributors, leveraging the resources of our neighborhoods, schools, families, businesses, religious organizations, community-based organizations, City and other government agencies.
With this in mind, the City of Orlando applied for the Cities of Service grant in April of 2010 in an effort to combat these issues. Orlando was chosen to receive the grant sponsored by Rockefeller and Bloomberg Foundations in July 2010 and Marcia Hope Goodwin was named Orlando’s first Chief Service Officer. Once awarded, the City of Orlando moved forward to combat the community challenges identified, youth education and youth crime, through the Cities of Service Initiatives.
More than 600 community leaders from nonprofit organizations, neighborhood organizations, City of Orlando school Principals and government officials were invited to participate in a survey sharing ideas and solutions to Orlando’s youth education and youth crime challenges. More than 75 of those community leaders participated in one of four, full-day focus group exercises where they developed specific operational solutions to our community’s challenges. Orlando Cares, Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service program features six initiatives which focus on service as a solution that were developed from community input and from those focus groups.