Philanthropy-Minded College Students Return to Orlando for “Alternative” Spring Break

For Fourth Year, Hotelier Harris Rosen Sponsors Cornell Univ. Students Who Will Spend School Holiday Working with Tangelo Park Youth

For more information, contact: Mary Deatrick DPR
(407) 718-4640
Photography available in the Media Gallery

ORLANDO (March 23, 2011) – For the fourth year in a row, students from Cornell University will come to Orlando to take part in an “alternative” spring break program in which they will mentor elementary and high school students from an underprivileged Orlando neighborhood.

This week, Ivy League students from Ithaca, New York will spend their spring break working with youth in the Tangelo Park neighborhood of Orlando. The students will be hosted by hotelier and philanthropist Harris Rosen, who created the Tangelo Park Program (TPP) to benefit children and teens in the once drug- and crime-riddled neighborhood.

Created in 1994, the three-fold educational community service initiative provides free preschool for every two-, three- and four-year-old child living in the Tangelo Park neighborhood, full college or vocational school scholarships for every graduating high school senior in the area, as well as a Neighborhood Center for Families at which parents can take parenting courses and obtain counseling and other resources to help them become positive role models for their children.

The collegians will spend their days mentoring students at Tangelo Park Elementary and Dr. Phillips High School and working with preschool students at various Tangelo Park daycare facilities, and then spend their nights at Rosen’s luxurious AAA Four Diamond hotel, Rosen Shingle Creek®. The students’ entire one-week stay, excluding airfare, is sponsored by Harris Rosen and the Rosen Foundation.

“Not many college students would opt to spend their spring break serving the community, so we are grateful that these civic-minded young men and women have it in their hearts to make a difference,” said Rosen. “We applaud their choice to forge a different path and we guarantee they will leave here with a sense of pride and accomplishment for their sacrifice— as well as many new friends, young and old.”

Cornell students learned about Rosen’s Tangelo Park initiative after the philanthropist spoke at an entrepreneurial program at the university four years ago. After students inquired about how they could help, the Ivy League University then added Tangelo Park as one of several locations for Alternative Breaks, a program designed to provide student volunteers the opportunity to participate in alcohol and drug-free, community-based service trips during their spring and winter breaks.

Participants in the Alternative Spring Breaks program engage in reciprocal service in communities with whom they otherwise may have had little or no direct contact with, learning about a variety of social issues, such as urban and rural poverty, racism, hunger, homelessness, the environment, domestic violence and juvenile delinquency. Students are immersed in culturally enriching experiences that challenge them to think critically about the social and environmental issues that shape society.

After a private welcome dinner with the project’s planning committee: Harris Rosen (President & COO Rosen Hotels & Resorts®), Alberta Masmoudi (Rosen Hotels & Resorts®), Dr. Robert Allen (Chairman, Tangelo Park Program, former Principal of Tangelo Park Elementary School), Chuck Dziuban and Marcella Bush (both from University of Central Florida), the volunteers will begin their busy week. While at Tangelo Park Elementary, the college students will spend their mornings in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms, working with students and assisting teachers. Afternoons will be spent mentoring high school students from Dr. Phillips High School. The college students will participate in a dinner meeting with the advisory board for the Tangelo Park Program, including the TPP Board of Directors: Dr. Robert Allen (President), Harris Rosen (Treasurer), JuaNita Reed (Recording Secretary); UCF Deans of College of Medicine, Health, Public Affairs, and Education, and other representatives from the University of Central Florida; as well as representatives from Orange County Public Schools, the Tangelo Park Neighborhood Center for Families, Head Start, Family Service Center, Two-Three-Four-Year-Old Program, Tangelo Baptist Church, Civic Association, YMCA, Sheriff’s office representative, Tangelo Park residents, Tangelo Park graduates and members of the Golden Stars Club.

Harris Rosen will visit Tangelo Park Elementary on Wednesday, March 23 from 10 am – 11 am to visit and speak with the elementary and college students as they work together. On Thursday, March 24, the Cornell volunteers will spend the day working with care providers and children at the nine Tangelo Park early childhood care centers that are funded through the project. On Friday morning, the students will attend a Make and Take workshop with the Ms. Patti Jo Houle, supervisor of the Two-, Three- and Four-Year-Old program. That afternoon, they will participate in a Reflection Session with the planning team and then enjoy a Friday evening farewell dinner.

During their week in Orlando, the student volunteers will enjoy a day of free time to enjoy the theme parks, shopping and other attractions. While at Rosen Shingle Creek®, the students will enjoy complimentary meals at the hotel’s many restaurants, including the fine-dining steakhouse, A Land Remembered.

To date, 204 teens who have graduated from high school have received full college or vocational school scholarships and 441 children have participated in the free preschool program. They are now in elementary school, in middle school and a few are freshman in high school. Fifty-eight students are currently enrolled in the free preschool program.

Prior to the program, the vast majority of high school students from Tangelo Park did not go on to college and the drop out rate was close to 60 percent. Today, the high school drop out rate is zero percent and approximately 60 percent go on to college.

Since 1993, Tangelo Park Elementary students’ reading, writing and math scores have steadily increased. And in 2004, 2006 and 2008, the school earned an “A” rating in Florida’s A+ plan and satisfied all the criteria required by the Federal No Child Life Behind Act.

Presently, the University of Central Florida is involved in a systematic study to determine the costs and benefits of the Tangelo Park Program to determine its return of investment. To date, the return appears to be $7 to society for every $1 spent.

Harris Rosen, a long-time Orlando resident, is the President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts®, Florida’s largest independent hotel chain which includes Rosen Shingle Creek®, Rosen Plaza®, Rosen Centre® and four value-priced properties including Quality Inn International, Rodeway Inn International, Quality Inn Plaza and Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista, for a total of approximately 6,300 guest rooms.

Rosen is a trustee at the University of Central Florida and donated the land and provided the funding to build the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Rosen also donated $3.5 million to build The Jack and Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando Jewish Community Campus, named in honor of his parents. He is an active conservationist and makes many other charitable donations.

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