Background and Mission
Within Central Florida, resources dedicated to educating children continue to decline. Orange County Public Schools continue to face budget cuts, which most frequently impact schools in the most historically underserved communities. In addition, a troubling report recently issued by the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness found that 26,000 children within our tri-county area spent part of 2014 homeless. That’s one out of every 17 kids in Central Florida, beating the national average from the U.S. Department of Education, which estimates that one out of every 30 children is homeless, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Orange County reported serving more than 6,700 homeless students in 2014 — the highest homeless student population in the state.
The Pathways to College Program is designed to meet the needs of underserved K-12 students in the community who may not ordinarily be exposed to the idea of higher education. Using an awareness to preparedness model, the goal of the program is to help K-12 students feel empowered and realize that attending college is an achievable goal. More specifically, the hope is to teach younger students the importance of college and to prepare older students for their future matriculation to college.
Fern Creek Mentoring Program
A long-standing community partner, Fern Creek Elementary is a Title I K-5 public school with more than 80% of its students eligible for free or reduced lunch and with approximately 24% of its student body considered homeless. Consistent mentors are a “must-have” for the school and mentors spend 30-45 minutes with mentees once a week. Besides tutoring, mentors also focus on their students’ personal growth by advising them in goal development, academic success, and personal values.
Winter Park 9th Grade Center Mentoring
This mentoring opportunity takes place at the Winter Park 9th Grade Center, which is within walking distance from campus. Rollins students tutor 9th grade students to ease the transition from middle to high school. Tutors work with 9th graders to strengthen their learning strategies in algebra, English, social studies, and science.
Pen Pals Program
Rollins Pen Pals is a student-led organization that pairs Rollins students, faculty, and staff with underserved youth within the local Central Florida community. Many of the young children participating in the program need a mentor to assist with reading and writing skills. Rollins Pen Pals provides a great opportunity for members of the Rollins community to serve as role models, while not requiring a substantial commitment of time
Rollins Readers is a training started by Sharon Carnahan and Diane Terorde-Doyle from the Child Development Center at Rollins. This training is intended to help people in the community learn to read a book in a way that enhances a young reader’s learning process. Rollins Readers teaches effective strategies like how to engage and teach children by asking questions about the reading. Most importantly, the ability to read a book to a child with such essential background knowledge and practice is intended to be one of the first steps of bringing a child into a life of reading. Then, readers will use this training to work with children at the Florida Hospital in Downtown Orlando.