Where did the time go? On Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, roughly 213,000 students will head back to their A-rated Orange County Public Schools and resume their educations. I’m a firm believer education is a life-long process and one is never too old to learn. There are several fascinating examples confirming how “knowledge is power” in this month’s Digest.

You might not think the 2020 U.S. Census could have an effect on education, but funding for preschool programs such as Head Start and free and reduced school meal programs for Orange County Public Schools is based on a complete and accurate count. We’re looking for volunteers to help with the 2020 census. You can visit to learn more about how you can help with this important process.

For inmates at the Orange County Jail, a new innovative program is providing offenders with the skills and knowledge to secure jobs in the food service, retail and warehousing industries. The program is reducing recidivism and helping to rehabilitate former offenders, and I’m extremely proud of how it’s making a difference in the lives of so many. You can read more about the program in the Digest.

Believe it or not, you can easily educate yourself on steps to keep your homes and neighborhoods safe from crime, and it’s a topic Jason Reynolds of our Neighborhood Services Division is passionate about. His research has shown that using common sense measures such as knowing your neighbors and adding landscaping and lighting around your home can deter criminals. Jason will present his findings at an upcoming Orange County Community Conference you’re welcome to attend. Visit .

Please be aware of students walking to school in the coming days and drive safely, and enjoy the rest of your summer.
A student stirring a large pot of food

Tory Blackwell, a former Orange County Corrections Department inmate, is now lead cook at a popular local restaurant thanks to IN2WORK vocational training. The culinary program is designed to provide offenders with the skills and knowledge to secure jobs post-release in the food service, retail and warehousing industries – in turn reducing recidivism and successfully rehabilitating offenders.
Facade of Bloem building with a flower pot in the foreground

Corporate sustainability has become synonymous with social and environmental responsibility. One Apopka-based company, Bloem LLC, which manufactures innovative outdoor garden products, took the initiative to upgrade older manufacturing equipment in an effort to drive sustainability and reduce operational costs.
Two women carrying flags of different nations on a pole. Behind them is a large screen that reads "You can be You here. Fusion Fest."

Through August 1, 2019, is issuing a call for performers, artists, vendors and volunteers to register their “Intent to Participate” in the second annual festival that celebrates diversity and inclusion in the Central Florida community.

On Friday, June 21, 2019, the Equal Justice Initiative joined hundreds of community members, including Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, in downtown Orlando for the unveiling of a historical marker honoring July Perry, who was lynched on Election Night 1920.
Mayor Jerry Demings’ Housing for All Task Force held its 3rd meeting on July 9, 2019 at the Orange County Administration Center located at 201 S. Rosalind Ave. in Orlando. All Task Force meetings are open to the public, and resident comments are welcome at the beginning of each meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the same location. Visit for more information.
Orange County Corrections Officer Hernandez carrying his son
Back 2 School Shots The Florida Department of Health in Orange County is offering free vaccinations for children ages 4-18 at the West Oaks Mall, 9401 W. Colonial Drive in Ocoee. The free immunizations are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis each day through Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Parents must bring a valid ID and their child’s current immunization record, birth certificate, passport or government ID. Call 407-858-1444 or visit the Florida Department of Health on Orange County’s website for more information.

Back 2 School Bash The Hope Now Foundation is hosting its annual Back 2 School Bash on Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fashion Square Mall, 3201 E. Colonial Drive. Receive free back packs (while supplies last), courtesy health and dental screenings, and haircuts. And thank you to the Orange County Commissioners who hosted their own school supply events in July to support residents in their districts.
Green PLACE Opening – Explore our natural habitat by joining Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division for an opening of the environmentally protected land at Hidden Pond Reserve, 20537 State Road 5 20 in District 5. The event will be held on Aug. 21 at 9 a.m.

Call to Artists The Hispanic Heritage Committee of Greater Orange County is calling for Central Florida artists to submit their Hispanic-themed artwork to be displayed at Orange County Government buildings during Hispanic Heritage month. Submissions are due to by August 9th.
Join the conversation on social media and follow Mayor Demings on Facebook and Twitter .