Click here to view the full Service Plan.
Mayor Buddy Dyer’s citywide service plan – ORLANDO CARES – will connect Orlando residents to volunteer efforts that target pressing local challenges with a clear focus on impact. Orlando is a proud member of the Cities of Service coalition and is one of 20 cities in the nation to receive a Cities of Service Leadership Grant, funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to develop a high-impact service plan. By joining Cities of Service, Mayor Dyer pledged that Orlando would unite in a nation-wide effort to achieve the goals of the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through this landmark legislation, all Americans have been called to volunteer their time to address their community’s pressing challenges.
ORLANDO CARES is the product of a seven- month planning process, led by Mayor Buddy Dyer and coordinated by Orlando’s Chief Service Officer, Marcia Hope Goodwin. This process engaged hundreds of community stakeholders and service experts from the public and private sectors, including businesses, non-profits, neighborhood associations, faith institutions, schools, universities and every-day citizens. ORLANDO CARES is designed to insure that Orlando will be a leader in answering the call to service.
A volunteer landscape analysis, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Bryer and PhD. students at the University of Central Florida’s College of Health and Public Affairs, guided the development of meaningful and impactful volunteer initiatives. Two priority focus areas were identified and a variety of Impact Service Initiatives and Infrastructure Initiatives were created to engage Orlando residents in addressing these community challenges.
The first ORLANDO CARES priority focus area is youth education. Volunteers will engage in four Impact Service Initiatives focused on improving youth literacy and increasing academic support, which are intended to improve third grade FCAT scores and increase graduation rates. These initiatives are designed to promote community vitality and engage citizens in supporting the Mayor’s education goals of improving literacy, increasing graduation rates and expanding preschool enrollment.
Mayor Buddy’s Book Club will deploy volunteers to engage 5th through 8th grade students in the City of Orlando and the Orange County Public Library System in activities designed to increase leisure reading by making it fun, accessible and valued. The ultimate goal is to improve youth literacy.
The COMPACT Expansion initiative will pair at-risk students with volunteer mentors on a weekly basis for at least one semester to focus on life skills mentoring, tutoring and career preparation.
The Preschool Ambassadors – Family Literacy Program will expand early childhood education by utilizing volunteers to increase the enrollment of 3 and 4 year-olds in Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs (VPK) and improve the quality of education in prekindergarten centers. This program will also train families in family literacy activities, to educate parents about the importance of reading to and with their young children.
The School Turnaround Interfaith Volunteer Pilot is a program coordinated by the Heart of Florida United Way, The Corporation for National and Community Service, The Department of Education Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This multi-faceted program is designed to engage volunteers from the faith-based community to assist students at Memorial Middle and its three feeder elementary schools to improve on-time school arrival, increase positive attitudes and behaviors, improve academic performance and promote interest in post-secondary education.
The second ORLANDO CARES priority focus area is youth crime prevention, with a focus on reducing youth crime by engaging youth in adult-supervised, skill-building activities during “out of school” time. There are two Impact Service Initiatives focused on this need area:
The Garden is an afterschool program for high school students led by volunteers who will engage them in gardening, nutrition education, camping and agriculture and science education. The Garden serves as a safe environment that will bring students and mentors together on a level playing field and provide a forum for open discussion regarding life issues, making good choices and developing goals. The Garden serves as a youth crime prevention effort by providing an adult supervised, structured environment with constructive and developmental activities during non-school hours.
The Path Finders program is a 12-week seminar for students to learn how their skills, abilities, personalities and interests should guide their career choices. Volunteers will help students explore various careers through career-focused mentoring, job-shadowing and workplace tours and assist in the development of their academic career plans.
To assess the impact of each volunteer initiative, program outcomes and metrics will be measured by official records, such as increased student attendance, improved Grade Point Average (GPA), school readiness, reduction or elimination of suspensions, and 3rd grade FCAT scores through a partnership with the Orange County Public School system, Orlando Police Department and other agency partners. Program participants will be measured against non-participants of similar demographics.
ORLANDO CARES has two Infrastructure Initiatives that address challenges experienced by most volunteer-using organizations in central Florida. During the landscape analysis, volunteer recruitment, retention, management and outcome measurement were frequently identified as challenges. The plan includes two initiatives to address these challenges:
ORLANDOCARES.net is an interactive city website that will make volunteer recruitment easy and accessible. Residents will be able to read Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service: ORLANDO CARES plan, sign up for the six volunteer initiatives (above), learn about volunteer job descriptions and connect with partner organizations. The site will include links to ORLANDO CARES’ lead partners and will link residents to a wide range of additional volunteer opportunities available through the Heart of Florida United Way’s website: VolunteerOrlando.com.
Through a partnership with the local Council of Volunteer Managers (CVM), ORLANDO CARES will offer volunteer management training and professional mentors to smaller, community-based organizations, which have limited or no volunteer management staff. The CVM will also assist our partner organizations, as they manage the ORLANDO CARES volunteer process.
The eight initiatives outlined in Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service: ORLANDO CARES plan capitalize on the City’s strong service infrastructure. Each one is supported by a dynamic team of partners committed to achieving results through cross sector collaboration. The Mayor’s Office will continue to engage community leaders and stakeholders from all sectors as the plan is actualized. Progress towards the goals outlined in ORLANDO CARES will be reported annually and made available to the public through ORLANDOCARES.net.
The City of Orlando’s mission is to enhance the quality of life in the City by delivering public services in a knowledgeable, responsive and financially responsible manner. The work done by volunteers through ORLANDO CARES will directly benefit Orlando residents, support our mission, and advance our City’s culture of service.
Click here to view the full Service Plan.