Community News


Creative funding approach gives Orlando nonprofits increased stake in results

Orlando, Fla. – August 16, 2017 – Westgate Resorts Foundation today announced its investment of $100,000 in four nonprofit partnerships that are developing programs designed to strengthen the local workforce.

Westgate challenged its existing 31 Central Florida grantees to work together in groups of two or more to create innovative new ways to fulfill the Foundation’s mission of Strong Families | Strong Workforce. Proposed projects tackled issues within the focus areas of family and youth homelessness, education, domestic violence, and veteran employment.

Four final teams were selected based on their ability to demonstrate how the collaboration would maximize existing resources, better leverage each nonprofit’s area of expertise and, ultimately, create a job-ready pipeline.

“As one of the largest private employers in Central Florida, building a strong workforce and community is critical to our success,” says Mark Waltrip, Chief Operating Officer of Westgate Resorts. “We support that through our hiring and development opportunities, as well as extensive community investment. These four grants are an important final piece of our Foundation’s $1 million commitment for 2017.”

Four grants of $25,000 each were awarded, representing nine different organizations. The awardees are:

  • City Year Orlando and Foundation for Orange County Public Schools for the “Accelerated Teacher Pipeline Program.” Mentorship and training program for City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members who are interested in a teaching career with a high-needs school within Orange County Public Schools.


  • Valencia College Foundation and The Jobs Partnership of Florida for “Hope for Students, Hope for Parents (Hope2).” Hope2 focuses on job skills, job placement and vocational training for the parents of students in the Valencia Promise – Take Stock in Children Program, increasing opportunity and stability for the entire family.


  • Community Hope Center’s IDignity Osceola Program, IDignity Orlando, and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida for “Gateways to Work.” This fast-track program ensures families have the identification resources they need to participate in the workforce, giving them immediate access to career-skills training, employment, education resources and health programs.


  • Foundation for Seminole State College and Victim Service Center of Central Florida for the “Be the Hero Bystander Education & Training.” Bystander education and training for students at Seminole State College, helping to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence, and keeping students on track to receive their degree.


The grant process was designed to encourage dialogue and innovation as Westgate’s nonprofit grantee partners worked together to create programs that capitalize on each organization’s unique skills and expertise. Recipients of Westgate’s collaboration grants have equal ownership in program implementation and how the financial resources are applied to achieve results.

“I was really impressed with the partnership and creativity of these programs,” says Mara Frazier, Senior Director, Community Affairs & Westgate Resorts Foundation. “All of the applicants did a solid job elevating the primary goals of the program: defining what they do best while relying on their partners to do what they do best, reducing duplication, and innovatively using resources to build our workforce.”

These four partnerships are the first collaboration grants that Westgate has awarded, representing an innovative approach to community investment. Based on the success of these partnerships, Westgate will consider expanding collaboration grants in the future.

About the Westgate Resorts Foundation

The Westgate Resorts Foundation is committed to investing in Westgate’s resort communities and team members by partnering with nonprofits equally committed to our mission of Strong Families | Strong Workforce: If families are equipped to break through barriers such as homelessness, domestic violence, gaps in education or returning to the workforce after military service, then they keep working or quickly return to work… paving their own path to self-sufficiency and lifelong success. A strong workforce means thriving communities where people want to live and vacation. The Foundation supports this mission through grant-making, advocacy and volunteerism in Westgate’s resort communities nationwide. For more information about the Westgate Resorts Foundation, visit www.westgateresortsfoundation.org.

 About Westgate Resorts

Founded in 1982 by David A. Siegel, Westgate Resorts is one of the largest resort developers in the United States. Westgate features 28 themed destination resorts with more than 13,000 luxury villas and hotel rooms in premier locations throughout the United States such as Orlando, Fla.; Park City, Utah; Las Vegas; Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Williamsburg, Va.; Miami; Cocoa Beach, Fla; Branson, Mo.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Tunica, Miss. Most Westgate Resorts locations feature a variety of unique restaurant, retail and spa concepts, including Drafts Sports Bar & Grill, Westgate Smokehouse Grill, Edge Steakhouse, Westgate Marketplace & Deli and Serenity Spa by Westgate. For more information about Westgate Resorts, visit www.westgateresorts.com.

Quotes from Collaboration Grant Awardees

City Year Orlando and Foundation for Orange County Public Schools: Accelerated Teacher Pipeline Program

“This collaborative opportunity brings out the best in both our organizations,” says Scott Howat, President, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools. “It helps us ensure that students in our fragile schools have energetic, prepared and dedicated teachers who believe deeply in each child’s potential. And it helps City Year Orlando ensure that corps members with a passion for education are able to accelerate their career trajectories. That’s a win for everyone!”

Valencia College Foundation and The Jobs Partnership of Florida: Hope for Students, Hope for Parents (Hope2)

“Working in concert with Jobs Partnership, we will be able to provide meaningful job training and preparation for family members so that they not only become more engaged and productive members of the Central Florida workforce, but they will also serve as incredible role models for their children,” says Kelly Astro, Director of the Valencia Promise Program at Valencia College.

Community Hope Center’s IDignity Osceola Program, IDignity Orlando, and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida: Gateways to Work

“The ability to develop strong families and a strong workforce requires organizations to each do their part, yet to also create novel approaches to collectively address a common goal,” says Michael Dippy, Executive Director of IDignity. “This collaboration grant provides the essential support for IDignity and IDignity Osceola to leverage our expertise in obtaining legal identification along with Goodwill Industries to utilize their experience in employment, allowing us to develop together a unique program that can have an even greater impact for our clients and community.”

Foundation for Seminole State College and Victim Service Center of Central Florida: Be the Hero Bystander Education & Training

 “We are really impressed at how Westgate looked at our area nonprofits and asked us to come together to better our community,” says John Gyllin, Vice President, Resource and Economic Development and Executive Director, Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida. “Because of this unique approach, we will be able to team up with Victim Service Center and offer this training directly on our campus.”


Want More i4? Subscribe to the Magazine.

About the author

i4 Business

i4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are shaping our region.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment