2015 Entrepreneur of the Year: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
Within a short walk from Orlando’s upscale urban core is the kind of poverty that challenges our “City Beautiful” reputation. Some think that the communities stricken with poverty are a result of an economically idle population, but according to LIFT Orlando, chronic poverty is compounded by four complex social issues – concentrated poverty, generational poverty, toxic charity and gentrification.
The non-profit LIFT Orlando was started in 2012 after Tom Sittema gathered a group of prominent Central Florida business leaders like Andy Gardiner, Terry Prather, Steve Hogan and Sandy Hostetter, and asked them, “Can the business community help solve some of our city’s most complex social problems?” The answer was a resounding yes.
LIFT Orlando’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through holistic neighborhood revitalization. Consistent with this approach, LIFT Orlando partnered with the residents of the Citrus Bowl’s surrounding communities to develop a set of shared goals to accelerate their community’s transformation. Their research-based approach applies principles of holistic community transformation.
According to Tom Sittema, also the CEO of CNL, a major private investment management firm focused on global real estate and alternative investment opportunities, “businessmen and women need to engage and use the gifts and abilities they are blessed with to solve these issues. They are gifted with vision, strategic alliances, resources and a drive for results.”