The Tangelo Park Program
The Tangelo Park Program, Inc. (TPP) is a community-based initiative that promotes civic commitment by private, public, and community organizations. With the financial backing of Harris Rosen, of Rosen Hotels and Resorts, the program has the collaborative support of four Tangelo community organizations: Tangelo Park Elementary School, the Tangelo Park YMCA, the Tangelo Baptist Church, and the Tangelo Park Civic Association. The Tangelo Park Program Advisory Board addresses Tangelo Park’s educational, social, and economic interests.
Tangelo Park is a model community that assures quality childcare programs, parent effectiveness training, and post-secondary education or training opportunities at no cost to the community. All funding goes to the program with no need for salaries, materials, or other costs. All participants give freely of their time and expertise and monthly meetings operate with a shared decision model.
The community of Tangelo Park is located approximately one-quarter mile southeast of Orlando’s International Drive tourist area. From the late 1980s through the early 1990s, Tangelo Park characterized a typical urban community with low socioeconomic demographic problems: overt drug problems, poor school attendance, declining test scores, and high school dropout rates.
The Tangelo Park Program began as a result of a grassroots program that attracted local media attention and attention from local government, civic groups, and Mr. Harris Rosen, a local hotelier. In 1993, after a successful effort to reclaim their neighborhood from urban blight and drug dealers, Tangelo Park community leaders met with Mr. Rosen and the Orange County School Board Superintendent to discuss the possibility of a scholarship program for Tangelo residents; together they established the Tangelo Park Program.
Mr. Rosen provided the financial backing for the pilot project and collaborated with community leaders to establish an advisory board with the continued support of the Tangelo Park Elementary School, the Tangelo Park YMCA, Tangelo Baptist Church, and the Tangelo Park Civic Association. With financial support guaranteed by Mr. Rosen, the Tangelo Park Program oversees the fundraising, educational needs, and scholarship distributions for its citizens—ages 2 to 22. At no cost to its citizens, TPP offers:
- Preschool opportunities for every Tangelo Park two-, three-, and four-year-old
- Early intervention classes at Tangelo Park Elementary School
- Three additional at-home daycare locations
- Full tuition, room, board, and living expenses for every Tangelo Park high school graduate who is accepted by a vocational school, community college, or public university in the state of Florida
The formation of the Tangelo Park Program reinforced the relationship between the community and both its inner supporters and outside participants. Two levels comprise the Tangelo Park Program Board: a legal board of officers and the Community Advisory Board (CAB)—a functional board of persons directly involved with providing services to the Tangelo Park community. The CAB organized the community’s agencies into one body with one agenda:
Tangelo Park Civic Association
The Civic Association’s initiative in the early 1990s united the Tangelo Park community. Currently, the Civic Association provides up-to-date information about community events, initiatives, and concerns, and serves as a proactive facilitator and liaison for the community.
Tangelo Park Baptist Church
The church supports the spiritual life of the community, actively participates on the TPP Advisory Board, and assists Tangelo families to access educational and social services. The church established an instructional center to help students succeed on school levels and with important examinations such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Tangelo Park YMCA
The YMCA complements the Tangelo Park Program with educational, emotional, recreational, and civic activities and provides instructional programs for suspended students. The organization also features teen programs and summer enrichment programs.
Tangelo Park Elementary School
The school provides early intervention classes for two-, three-, and four-year-old children through community-based day care, a Head Start Program, and a Pre-Kindergarten program, and also provides support services for parents, day care providers, and Pre-K teachers through the Family Service Center. In addition, the Head Start program offers a food pantry and provides assistance for public utilities and referrals. The community provides transportation to these programs.
The school also provides tutors and mentors, addresses drug prevention issues, and provides workshops that address parental issues. The parent education programs also assist parents to find jobs and enhance their parenting skills.
**The Tangelo Park children are on a one-track educational plan from elementary school through high school. The feeder schools—Southwest Middle School and Dr. Phillips High School–provide counselors to transition students from the Tangelo Park community and counselors also assist in college placement to familiarize the students with on-campus experiences.