Orlando, January 17, 2020 – In one of his first actions of 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Glenton Gilzean Jr., the President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, to the State of Florida’s 2020 Census Statewide Complete Count Committee.
Gilzean joins a diverse committee, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, and is composed of representatives from local governments as well as businesses and community leaders. The goal of the committee is to ensure that all Floridians are aware of the upcoming census and will be equally represented in the final count.
This marks the fifth time that Mr. Gilzean has received a gubernatorial appointment. In 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Mr. Gilzean to the Florida Commission on Ethics. Previously, Governor Rick Scott appointed Mr. Gilzean to the Pinellas County School Board (2012), to the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Board of Trustees (2013) and to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (2016).
Reflecting on 2019, I can proudly write that the Central Florida Urban League made an incredible impact on our community. Throughout the past twelve months, we have focused on empowering Central Floridians through education, employment and entrepreneurship. As the year draws to a close, I am both humbled and grateful by our incredible success.
In early 2019, we welcomed Governor Ron DeSantis, who addressed the Urban League’s Policy Breakfast only weeks into the beginning of his administration. Governor DeSantis took this opportunity to outline his vision for a true partnership between his administration and our community. His speech followed decisive action, coming days after the historic and long-overdue pardon of the Groveland Four.
Working alongside Orange County Public Schools, the Florida Department of Education, and Step Up for Students, we embarked on a concerted effort of ending the school-to-prison pipeline by bringing our Top of the Class Reading Program to local schools. This program was created in direct response to the staggering statistic that 75 percent of children who do not read at grade level by the third grade do not graduate from high school. In order to bring about change, we began to offer a literacy program to public school students in Grades 3, 4 or 5 in dire need of assistance. With continued support from the State of Florida, we are proud of the fact that this program will expand to include public school students in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval and Miami-Dade counties in 2020.
As the promotion of entrepreneurship is critical to our overall goal of ending generational poverty, in 2019, we were proud to launch the CFUL Empowerment Zone. This unique initiative will provide support and resources to help entrepreneurs and business owners develop, enhance and grow their business. Ultimately, with support from the CFUL and community partners, these businesses will also gain access to much needed support and mentoring to further enhance their growth. This program was made possible due to a $75,000 grant from Wells Fargo.
As the Urban League continues to work with entrepreneurs to grow their ideas into businesses, our organization is also working with local partners to bolster the talent pipeline. In conjunction with Mayor Dyer, Commissioner Regina Hill, the City of Orlando and CareerSource of Central Florida as well as local institutions such as Valencia College, the CFUL launched Blueprint 2.0, a job-training program that connects residents with more than 100 vocational training opportunities. Individuals enrolled in Blueprint 2.0 receive the short-term training they need to prepare for long-term careers in a high-demand, higher-wage industry.
As we tackle generational poverty through entrepreneurship and employment, the CFUL has also continued to address financial illiteracy. This year, we were fortunate to partner with Fifth Third Bank, FAIRWINDS Credit Union and Regions Bank. These three financial institutions contributed both funds and volunteers to support our Meet the Bankers initiative, a critical program which promotes financial literacy, ensuring that Central Floridians avoid major financial pitfalls.
Our organization closed out 2019 by laying the foundation for 2020. In October, we welcomed Ashley D. Bell, the White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Mr. Bell signed a historic partnership between the White House, the Small Business Administration and the CFUL which will help bring new and exciting prospects for local entrepreneurs through the federal government’s Opportunity Zone Tax Incentive. I can proudly say that this partnership was the first of its kind for any Urban League affiliate in the country.
Countless Central Floridians have benefitted from CFUL programming and initiatives in 2019. I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible staff as well as a Board of Directors, volunteers and community partners all of whom share in our vision for the betterment of our region.
Thank you for your ongoing support and I look forward to continuing this success in 2020,
Glenton Gilzean Jr.
President and CEO
Recently, the Central Florida Urban League partnered with the FAIRWINDS Foundation to bolster our Meet the Bankers program! Click below for the article from The Orlando Times.
Under the new agreement, the Foundation will contribute $30,000 and employee volunteers from FAIRWINDS to support the CFUL’s Meet the Bankers program, an initiative designed to provide a detailed path to financial stability and home ownership through education.
Launched in 2016, the CFUL's Meet the Bankers program afforded unbanked, low-to-moderate income individuals the opportunity to consult one-on-one with a representative from a financial institution. Beyond empowering participants to establish and pursue their financial goals, the time spent with a banker also led to the establishment of, or reestablishment of, trust in employees of the financial sector, a critical metric for measuring the financial health of a community. In partnering with the CFUL team, FAIRWINDS Foundation will provide invaluable financial and educational support to the program as it continues to evolve.
“We are grateful for our public-private partnership with both the City of Orlando and FAIRWINDS Credit Union,” said Glenton Gilzean, President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League. “This multi-faceted investment by the FAIRWINDS Foundation to support the Central Florida Urban League and its work with the Blueprint 2.0 program will undoubtedly change lives by equipping people with the tools they need to become financially literate and competitive in today’s job market. Ultimately, through programs like Blueprint 2.0 and with our community partners, we will achieve our long term goal of eliminating generational poverty.”
As part of the agreement, FAIRWINDS Credit Union employees will be tapped to lead financial literacy workshops to teach program participants to develop efficient household budgets, create savings plans, manage debt, formulate strategic investment decisions for themselves and their families and avoid common pitfalls such as predatory loans.
“Thanks to the generosity of the FAIRWINDS Foundation, the Central Florida Urban League now has even more tools to improve lives through education,” said Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill. “Partnerships like this bring an even greater impact to Orlando’s new Blueprint 2.0 program that connects residents to job and training opportunities.”
“Due to its standing in the community, Central Florida Urban League is uniquely positioned to provide guidance on the critical issue of financial literacy,” said Elisha González, executive director of the FAIRWINDS Foundation. “As their work perfectly complements the mission and vision of the FAIRWINDS Foundation, this partnership represents a natural next step for our team as we work to promote responsibility, security and freedom in the communities we serve.”
To register for the Blueprint 2.0 program, please click here.
Join us on Friday, December 6 at the CFUL Office: 2804 Belco Drive for the 2020 Census Hiring event!
Join us on November 6 to learn about free vocational training opportunities in Central Florida!
The Honorable Ashley D. Bell, the White House Policy Advisor for Entrepreneurship & Innovation made a special trip to Orlando this week to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Florida Urban League, which calls for the CFUL to lead to efforts in the development of Orlando’s 12 Opportunity Zones.
The CFUL, alongside its local partners: the Small Business Administration, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and the Black Business Investment Fund of Florida, will be working alongside local businesses and investors to breathe new life into the city’s low-income communities.
“Opportunity Zones have the potential to be a game-changer for our community,” said Glenton Gilzean Jr., President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League. “This program mirrors our vision for Central Florida as our goals is to create new opportunities for our community. The public-private partnership brought forward through this program is critical if we are to truly empower those in need with the resources and tools to better themselves and those around them.”
In all, the State of Florida has 427 communities which have been designated as Opportunity Zone.