redit: Melissa Lyttle, New York Times C
For 21 years, a Florida millionaire has funded day care centers and college scholarships in a small, low-income, mostly black town near Orland, reports the New York Times. With $11 million of Harris Rosen’s money, “Tangelo Park is a striking success story.”
Once, nearly half the town’s students dropped out of school. Now nearly all graduate and most go to college or trade school with full scholarships.
Property values have climbed. Houses and lawns, with few exceptions, are welcoming. Crime has plummeted.
The son of immigrants, Rosen grew up poor in New York City and made his money in the hotel business.
For the youngest children, he created a system of free day care centers in Tangelo Park homes, ensuring that the certified providers, who are also the homeowners, instruct children as young as 2. He also started and finances a prekindergarten program in the local elementary school and offers parents training through the University of Central Florida on how to support their children.
The Tangelo Park Program doesn’t fund K-12 education. “It is run almost entirely by volunteers, mostly community leaders,” reports the Times.
Next year, Rosen will begin funding early education in a downtown Orlando neighborhood with housing projects and few neighborhood institutions.