The Orlando Magic gave out more than $1 million Wednesday through its youth foundation — money that will help at-risk kids avoid homelessness, eat healthier food, heal the trauma of domestic violence and explore career paths that can lead them out of poverty.

“I am in shock,” said Sherry Paramore, president of ELEVATE Orlando, one of five local charities to receive $100,000 in this year’s round of funding. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us to expose more children to careers ... to inspire them to do great things. Our work allows them to dream."


For ELEVATE, which mentors hundreds of students from second grade through high school, the money is roughly 10 percent of its annual budget.

The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has distributed more than $25 million in the past 30 years, including the $1,050,000 this year to 16 nonprofit organizations in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Those include $100,000 to the Pace Center for Girls in Orange County and the second of three years of $100,000 grants to three collaborative projects, including one between Second Harvest Food Bank and Grace Medical Home.

Florida’s infants and toddlers face the greatest risk of being undercounted in the upcoming 2020 Census — an error that could cost the state “staggering” amounts of federal funding for everything from schools to children’s health care to food stamps.

That effort helps provide healthy food and nutritional counseling to pediatric patients struggling with chronic illness and obesity. While the program already has enrolled more than 100 children, the additional grant money will help it reach as many as 300.

Grants for $50,000 each went to Central Florida Community Arts, Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, Harbor House of Central Florida, Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, IMPOWER, Orlando Ballet, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orlando Shakes in partnership with the University of Central Florida and United Against Poverty.

“Our hope is to make their very important work just a little bit easier and assist these amazing organizations who help the OMYF fulfill its commitment to underserved youth and families in Central Florida," said OMYF President Linda Landman Gonzalez. “It is the honor of a lifetime to be able to work with those inspiring people who are at the heart of what the OMYF is all about.”

The Magic organization covers all the administrative costs while raising grant money through donations, auctions and events, including the OMYF Open Golf Tournament and the upcoming Orlando Wine Festival and Auction.

The wine festival, which netted $900,000 in 2019, its inaugural year, far exceeded its $350,000 goal, said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. And this year’s event, March 13-15 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, should bring in even more.

“We know this community’s need is much greater,” he said. “If we can grow that event, we can give out even more money.”