ELEVATE Orlando was founded to address the needs of a growing number of at-risk students in
Orlando. The organization leverages the proven model of the nationally acclaimed Colorado Uplift, a program with a 30-year proven history of maintaining graduation rates around 90% and
enrollment in post secondary education to 85% in the most challenging schools in Denver,
In 2008, a group of Orlando-based community leaders traveled to Denver to observe the Uplift
program and decided that the unique model should be launched in Pine Hills, one of Central
Florida’s most challenging communities. ELEVATE Orlando’s first classes were held in January 2009 at Evan High School. The program now serves over 1200 students throughout 11 Orange County Public Schools.
For the past 7 years, ELEVATE Orlando has worked to positively impact the Evans and Oak Ridge High School communities. Teacher/Mentors are faced with the daily challenges of our students, which range from peer pressure to street violence, school suspensions to abusive home life, and even gang affiliation. Approximately 75% of our students come from single parent homes or live with a guardian other than their biological parent. On average, about 50% of these families live with incomes below the median Pine Hills community income level, and another 25% below the poverty line. For many years, Pine Hills schools have ranked among the highest in the state of Florida in truancy, suspension and dropout rates as well as the lowest graduation rates in the state.
Between 2006 & 2012, Evan High School went from an F-Rated school to a B-Rated school. Dr.
David Christiansen, Principal during those years, credits ELEVATE Orlando as being part of the
turnaround. An advocate of the program, Dr. Christiansen states, “The Teacher/Mentors are
available to students 24/7, helping to meet their social and emotional needs beyond the classroom, as well as providing a support system, which helps cultivate character and