WPHF Investment Illustrates Importance of OCPS Partnerships

For more than a decade, a unique partnership between the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) has resulted in better school-based health and wellness services for students in 12 schools serving Winter Park, Maitland, and Eatonville. Students receive free services boosting student mental and physical health and building a culture of good health.

The joint program—called the Coordinated Youth Initiative—has been supported by WPHF grants totaling more than $13 million since 2000, and is just one example of the benefits reaped by students when private entities work with the school district through the new Philanthropic Strategic Plan. WPHF recently committed an additional $2.7 million to support Coordinated Youth Initiative programs through school year 2015-16. Most of the funds will flow through the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools.

Designed to help the district achieve its vision to be a top producer of successful students in the nation, the Philanthropic Strategic Plan features eight priorities that have the highest impact on improving student success, and OCPS is seeking business and community partners to help put those priorities into action.

One priority focuses on ensuring all children are ready to learn by providing a registered nurse or nurse practitioner in every OCPS school.

School Board Chair Bill Sublette said, “Orange County Public Schools aspires to be the top producer of successful students in the nation. We will only get there through the support of our community and the Philanthropic Strategic Plan is a vehicle for that support. I want to thank the Winter Park Health Foundation for its generous investment to insure every child has access to a licensed nurse at 12 of our schools, as well as access to mental health counseling and nurse practitioner services.”

“We are very grateful to Winter Park Health Foundation for stepping up with a true investment in the success of Orange County’s kids. Their support reflects their belief in our philanthropic process, and we share their hope that it will inspire other partners to consider creating a meaningful impact for our students, too,” said Debi Pedraza, director of Philanthropic Development for OCPS.

More information about the Philanthropic Strategic Plan can be found on the OCPS website by clicking here.

Based on the belief that healthy kids make better students, WPHF’s Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI) program is available to the estimated 11,000 students attending Winter Park High School and its 11 elementary and middle feeder schools.

The components of CYI include CHILL (Community Help and Intervention in Life’s Lessons), a free counseling program for students and their families and the School Nursing Initiative that provides a licensed nurse in each of the schools. Also CYI includes School-Based Health Centers staffed with nurse practitioners and Healthy School Teams which help create a culture of good health in schools.

“CYI has been a true partnership between WPHF and the 12 schools,” explained Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President. “School leaders collaborate with CYI program providers to promote services, engage staff and families, refer students, and enable access during the school day while providing in-kind space and resources. It represents teamwork at its finest.”

WPHF also supports the website www.healthykidstoday.org, which provides detailed information about the school-based programs, as well as the latest in health news, healthy school activities, healthy recipes, and tips and resources.