Helios Education Foundation first invested into the Parramore community of Orlando in 2017, and augmented its investment in 2019. The Parramore Education and Innovation District (PEID) intended to create a collaborative infrastructure to support a cradle to career education ecosystem for Parramore residents. After years of evolution, PEID is now thriving and supporting the educational aspirations of residents thanks to a continued partnership among the University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Orange County Public Schools, Kresge Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and The Harris Rosen Foundation.
Uplifting PEID was done deliberately and with care by all partners involved, ensuring respect for the Parramore community, its residents, and its history. Listening to the voices of the community has been part of the process and continues to be ingrained in the implementation process. All partners understand the context and history of previous attempts at collaboration with the community and have taken a holistic approach to implementation.
Helios was able to speak to a Parramore resident and parent, Yahaira Santos, to better understand the viewpoint from a community member about what she sees as triumphs, challenges, and what can be improved. Below is our interview.
How has the work by the Parramore Education and Innovation District improved educational access for the Parramore community?
I feel that the work of the Parramore Education and Innovation District has helped and improved educational access by providing many new opportunities for everyone to sign up to get their GED, a postsecondary career, among other engaging programs.
UCF, OCPS, and others have tried to proactively engage residents of Parramore in shaping this work. How has this effort by UCF, OCPS and others differed from past efforts?
I’ve only been living in the Parramore community for a little over 8 years now, but to me what’s different from the efforts tried in the past is that they are including the people from Parramore and are giving the opportunity for parents like me to become a part of something and listen to our suggestions.
What have been some of the challenges faced in the implementation of the Parramore Education and Innovation District?
I will have to say that some of the challenges faced implementing the Parramore Education and Innovation District program is getting people to join and engage in many of the great opportunities that are being offered.
What activities or innovations have most benefited residents as a result of the Parramore Education and Innovation District work?
Some of the programs and opportunities that have helped or benefited residents of Parramore are the Jump Start to Success Program - providing many opportunities to become more successful. Another program that has benefited is the Women’s Empowerment Group, which gives women a space to learn new emotional helping skills, let’s them be able to express themselves without any judgement, and provides the support they need to learn to accept themselves the way they are. Other activities that have helped and benefited were the Drive-Thru College Fair and the kids screening event at the Callahan Neighborhood Center, among many more.
What else would you like us to know?
I feel that the work that the Parramore Education and Innovation District has committed to work on, is an awesome project. With the many different opportunities offered, it gives everyone a chance to grow and become more successful for themselves and their families. I feel that if more people were to just take a few minutes to learn about PEID and all the opportunities they have to offer, they will realize what is being made available to help everyone in the Parramore community. I’m grateful to be one of the parents involved with PEID, OCPS and UCF.