In 1993, Harris Rosen “adopted” a run-down, drug-infested section of Orlando called Tangelo Park. Rosen offers free preschool for all children prior to kindergarten and a free college education for high school graduates. Today, the high school graduation rate for Tangelo Park is 100 percent. And no, that is not a typo.and:
The Tangelo Park Program, started in 1993, gives every neighborhood child age 2 to 4 access to free preschool. Parents have access to parenting classes, vocational courses and technical training.
For a program that took just one hour and four people to develop, the impact has been wide and deep. Tangelo Park Elementary is now a grade-A school. Every high school senior graduates.
But there’s more. Much more.
Every high school graduate who is accepted to a Florida public university, community or state college, or vocational school receives a full Harris Rosen Foundation scholarship, which covers tuition, living and educational expenses through graduation.
Nearly 200 students have earned Rosen scholarships, and of those, 75 percent have graduated from college—the highest rate among an ethnic group in the nation.
“I was part of the first generation of pre-K children in the Tangelo Park Program. Now I’m about to be the first generation of my family to go to college,” says Antionette Butler, a senior at Dr. Phillips High School. Butler plans to use her Rosen scholarship to attend UCF and study neurology.
Donna Wilcox used her Rosen scholarship to earn a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal/organizational communication at UCF, and then went on to complete her M.A. in mass communications at the University of Georgia.
“When people have the resources to go and succeed, there’s a ripple effect,” she says. “It becomes generational. No one in my family ever went to college before, but now, my baby sister can’t even picture a life without college. My mother even went back and got her degree. I showed her that she could do it.”