Episode #115: The Tangelo Park Program – A Model for Breaking the Cycle of Educational Inequity & Transforming Our Country One Community at a Time


You are going to hear a remarkable case study about a successful and sustained philanthropic initiative focused on educating disadvantaged youth. Although outside of the strict domain of healthcare delivery, this initiative is actually about the health & well-being of our communities and our country – education being a significant social determinant of health outcomes.

Joining us in this interview are Harris Rosen, President & COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Dr. Chuck Dziuban, and JuaNita Reed.  Dr. Dziuban is the Coordinator of The Harris Rosen Foundation educational programs for the University of Central Florida. He is in charge of maintaining the research and statistics of the Tangelo Park Program.  JuaNita Reed is a recently retired guidance counselor at Dr. Phillips High School. She has mentored the scholarship recipients in the program and continues to lead that aspect of the program in her new role as Scholarship Coordinator of The Harris Rosen Foundation.

In this episode, we’ll discover:

  • The key components contributing to the success & 26-year sustainability of the Tangelo Park Program.
  • The profound educational outcomes & remarkable impact it’s had on the community – for example, dropping the crime rate by ~80%!
  • Mr. Rosen’s vision for spreading the Tangelo Park Program to the rest of the country.

Since 1994, Harris Rosen and his colleagues have funded a Pre-K program and a full college scholarship in a small, disadvantaged community. Although the solution is simple, the success is startling. Also startling is how this program has not only sustained itself but has activated the youth and catalyzed the parents in the community. Over the years, families have required and requested less of the Rosen funding, as they’ve been acquiring more college scholarships on their own. Another critical point to understand is that this approach is reversing an insidious, self-perpetuating driver of financial disparity & inequity in educational opportunity.

If you live in the bottom economic quartile in this country, your chance of graduating from college is 11%. The odds against you are 9:1. The total college debt in the USA is $1.7 Trillion dollars. Most of this college debt is carried by the bottom economic quartile in this country, and by Black youth. It is a compounding problem which perpetuates a cycle of debt and the suppression of upward mobility, largely in the Black & LatinX populations. One of the brilliant things that the Tangelo Park Program does is break this cycle of educational debt and upward social mobility. The evidence for that – well, for starters, the Tangelo Park program has reversed the odds of these kids graduating college, from 9:1 against, to 3:1 in favor!  Further evidence – over 160 Tangelo Park youth have graduated from college. That is 3 times the expected number, which would have been 45. In addition, the program has resulted in 227 degrees, including post-graduate degrees. There’s also a positive economic impact to the community. Lance Lochner, an economist at the University of Western Ontario, recently calculated a 7:1 return to the community.

Harris Rosen’s program is catalyzing the tremendous intellectual talents, capabilities and potential in our disadvantaged youth, particularly in Black & LatinX youth. He understands that a college or vocational school education leads to employment, financial stability, and significantly higher life-time earnings. Those are well substantiated facts. At one point in the discussion, Chuck Dziuban refers to a recently published landmark study which has demonstrated that a Preschool (Pre-K) education positively and cumulatively transforms an individual’s entire life, with ripple effects on the lives of their children & grandchildren.

I suspect that you will be as moved as I was by this story. But Harris is asking for more. Harris Rosen is calling for action. His vision is that every underserved community in this country be adopted by philanthropists, Boards and C-suites.

Toward the end of the interview, Harris implores us, “What I would like to hear and see more of is people who not only say that black lives matter, but people who are inclined to do something about it. Here’s a program with nearly 30 years of extraordinary success. All somebody has to do who cares about Black lives, LatinX lives, the lives of our youth – is ask how we did it.”  If reversing the cycle of educational & economic inequity in our country is important to you, then please share this interview with others – especially those who are in a position to replicate the Tangelo Park Program.

Until next time, be safe and be well.
Zeev Neuwirth, MD