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In 1993, Rosen decided it was also time to start giving back to his community. When he asked community leaders how he could help, they drove him to Tangelo Park, a crime-ridden community about one-quarter mile southeast of Orlando’s International Drive tourist area.
Drugs, poor school attendance, low test scores and high dropout rates were big problems in Tangelo Park.
Rosen vowed to clean up the community by providing hope in the form of education, and the Tangelo Park Program was born.
“I fell in love with the neighborhood,” says Rosen. “I knew I wanted to do some type of scholarship program for them.”
The website explains the program as “a new kind of philanthropy.” Rosen participates in day-to-day activities at the Tangelo Park Program, pays the bills and attends all the community meetings. He provides services only when the community identifies the need. It is “politically non-threatening, long-term, and student-centric.”
According to Rosen, “My goal in creating the Tangelo Park Program was not only to transform a community and provide its youth with a chance for a brighter future, but also to create a template for success that other communities could easily adopt. Our program advisory board is in place to provide guidance and support to any community or business that should choose to create their own program.”
This unique program oversees the fundraising, educational needs, and scholarship distributions for its citizens, ages 2 – 22, at no cost. It offers pre-school opportunities, parenting classes and vocational or technical options for parents with children in school. It also offers full tuition, room, board and living expenses for every Tangelo Park high school graduate who is accepted by a Florida-based vocational school, community college, or public university.
To date, I’m told that more than 200 of these children have graduated college on this program. Rosen also created a Parent Resource Center, so that parents could learn how to support their children and keep them in school. Ten community run, state certified in-home preschools were created, supplying not only free preschool for the community, but jobs for ten women running these schools out of their homes.
Twenty years later, crime and drugs have been dramatically reduced, and the high school drop out rate went from 94% to almost zero.
One might argue the Tangelo Park Program is personal philanthropy at its best.