It was the top award given at the April 18 Promise Night Gala, which followed “Recommit to Kids | The Summit for America’s Future,” a daylong event in New York City. The Powell Legacy Award recognizes an organization that is transforming a community and the lives of the young people and families who live there.
Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) is a cradle to college approach to level the playing field for young people and their families in Orlando’s Parramore community.
The program, which started in 2006, aims to reduce juvenile crime, teen pregnancy and high school drop-out rates in Orlando’s highest poverty neighborhood. PKZ offers early childhood education, after school programs, youth development for teenagers, parenting classes, access to health care, mentoring, tutoring, college application assistance and job training.
“When a city invests in local communities, young people can be put on a path toward a brighter future,” said America’s Promise Chair Alma J. Powell, the wife of retired four-star general Colin Powell. “We applaud the City of Orlando and the Parramore community for their collaboration on behalf of young people and recognize the program as an example of what is possible when communities pull their resources, ideas and talent together to create positive community impact.”
Since 2006, the Parramore community has seen a 63 percent decline in juvenile arrests, a 73 percent decline in teen pregnancies, a 48 percent decline in child abuse cases, along with increases in the percentage of Parramore students performing at grade level in math and reading, according to Lisa Early, director the city’s parks and recreation department, which runs PKZ.
In PKZ’s Student Advocate program, 90 percent had a GPA over 2.0, 98 percent were promoted to the next grade and 100 percent of seniors graduated.
“We’re turning tragedy into triumph,” said Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill, who volunteers at PKZ and grew up in the Parramore neighborhood.
The award came with a $50,000 check that will be used to help fund the program, which served nearly 2,000 participants last year.