United Way of Central Florida invests community resources in services that are beacons of light for many, giving second chances and fostering a lasting change. Every organization we partner with shines like a star in the night sky.

But five shine the brightest.

Family Literacy Academy of Lake Wales; Girls, Inc. of Lakeland; Learning Resource Center of Polk County; The Salvation Army serving West Polk County; and Lighthouse for the Blind received Star Award funding for exceptional services that will transform lives and strengthen our community.

Family Literacy Academy of Lake Wales takes a multi-generational approach to educate families and help them become financially stable.  Tutors are on hand to teach parents English, finish their GED and go on to attend Polk Stage College with a scholarship all the while children are engaged in an early literacy program with a proven track record for preparing them for a successful school career.

About 100 at-risk girls at Girls, Inc. will have access to a certified teacher thanks to the additional Star Award funding.  Professional tutoring in math and reading will equip the girls with the skills they need to be promoted in school, graduate and attend college. $5,000 in scholarships will also be provided to low-income girls at its Bartow location.

The Learning Resource Center will use its Star Award funding to help students with Dyslexia learn how to overcome their disorder and succeed in school.  These often bright students struggle with reading, causing frustration which leads to problems with attendance, behavior and grades. Educating theses students requires highly trained and credentialed tutors. The number of students served is relatively small, but the needs are more intense and the results outstanding.

The Salvation Army serving West Polk County is using its Star award funding to implement the Pathway of Hope Initiative.  The national financial education and mentoring program helps homeless families find and maintain financial stability. Running successfully in other communities, Pathway is a new program for Polk.

Lighthouse for the Blind will hire a therapist to offer small group and individual mental health services for visually impaired adults and children who are experiencing depression or anxiety.  Mental health services are a priority in Polk County and Lighthouse has an extensive history of successfully helping the visually impaired and maximizing their independence.