The Central Florida Foundation is a driving force behind community collaboration, dedicated to providing educational opportunities and engaging events to help improve the lives of their fellow citizens. A prime example of their commitment is the United Way of Central Florida (UWCF) health initiative, which works to improve health indicators and reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room, days in the hospital, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. The UWCF collaborated with local health experts to identify health services that would meet critical local needs and specific evaluations that would reliably measure the outcomes of funded services. With the guidance of experts from the health management team, the UWCF increased access to health care for people who work hard and are uninsured.
Polk County is the ninth most obese county in the country, so the UWCF prioritized services for diseases related to obesity such as diabetes and hypertension. Local studies are reviewed annually with experts, and children and adults have seen considerable improvements in their health. The UWCF also provides information about free health care. The Conservation Centers of International (CCI) campus reserves are located in North, Central and South Florida, each reflecting a unique geography and landscapes. Orange County commissioned a series of reports that helped local leaders better understand the magnitude of homelessness in Central Florida.
To protect species such as the Florida scrub jay, gecko turtle, Florida black bear and rare plants, land acquisition is not enough. Since 1979, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Florida has been actively enforcing prescribed fire on conservation lands and training tomorrow's prescribed fire professionals. Orange County Government is the largest funder of public services for the homeless in Central Florida. There are currently more than 10 million acres of conservation land in Florida, more than half of which requires fires every few years to maintain biodiversity and community safety. Healthy Central Florida encourages individual changes in behavioral health by instituting community programs aimed at improving lifestyles such as being more active and eating healthier. With the ambitious goal of making Winter Park and the surrounding area the healthiest community in the country, Healthy Central Florida has set out to transform its vision into a reality. These collaborations have resulted in an incredible number of conservation successes that have benefited both the environment and people of Florida.
For six decades, TNC Florida has enjoyed tremendous success working across the state; they have achieved tangible conservation results, been a leader in management, education and training on the ground; protected hundreds of thousands of acres through a variety of conservation methods; and promoted partnerships and collaborations among various colleagues and organizations. TNC in Florida has seven reserves open only to researchers that provide access to other ecological, hydrological and geological research opportunities across the state. This helps align services and planning with federal funding throughout Central Florida. CCI promotes conservation through education and training, outreach and volunteerism, science and research, and land stewardship in Florida.