Lift Orlando, a place-based community development organization that strengthens neighborhoods so people can thrive, marked its 10th anniversary celebrating years of strengthening neighborhoods.
In 2012, a handful of community-minded business leaders partnered with Florida Citrus Sports in hopes that the reconstruction of what is now Camping World Stadium could benefit the surrounding neighborhoods. After 30,000 hours, 1,500 door-to-door interviews, and dozens of community gatherings led by Polis Institute, residents and partners began to seek social and economic justice following decades of disinvestment.
Lift Orlando has influenced more than $100 million in capital projects across The Communities of West Lakes, focusing on health and wellness services, mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career education pathways, and economic development opportunities. As a result, West Lakes has seen a per capita income increase by approximately $10,000, childhood poverty decrease from 54.8% to 19.1%, and the creation of 400+ jobs throughout the past 10 years.
“Business leaders, community partners, elected officials, and diverse stakeholders have united under the banner of Lift Orlando,” Lift Orlando President Eddy Moratin, said reflecting on the last decade. “These collaborations have transcended color, background, and political beliefs, unified by the common goal of fortifying our communities for the common good, demonstrating that love is rooted in local action. Today, I’m filled with pride and gratitude for the achievements that were impossible to accomplish alone. We celebrate the advancement toward a vision where every neighborhood is a place of hope, and where each child can grow up hopeful and return joyful.”
West Lakes residents are also thrilled with the changes. In a 2022 survey, 77.1% of residents reported positive sentiments about the neighborhood’s growth.
Overview of Milestone Projects in West Lakes:
Health & Wellness
- Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center: The new resident-focused health and wellness center strengthens the 32805 ZIP Code by providing convenient access to holistic health, financial, and lifestyle services under one roof. The state-of-the-art $13.5M facility makes history as the first-ever, large-scale collaboration between AdventHealth, Orlando Health, and Florida Blue.
- Pendana at West Lakes: The $40M-mixed-income community opened with more than 10,000 applications for 200 highly sought-after apartments in the summer of 2018
- Pendana at West Lakes Senior Residences: The $25M-affordable senior living community opened in mid-2020 features 120 one and two-bedroom units
Early Learning Center
- West Lakes Early Learning Center: The $12.75M, 16,300-square-foot facility, owned and operated by AdventHealth, debuted for the 2020-2021 school year. It provides high-quality and affordable early childhood education with a blended curriculum based on Primrose Schools Balanced Learning and AdventHealth’s CREATION Kids’ programs
Boys & Girls Club
- Jacqueline Bradley & Clarence Otis Family Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida: This $9.4M building is now the region’s largest Boys & Girls Club, featuring a full-size gym, technology center, music lab, dance studio, stage, and art studio
- Lake Lorna Doone Park: After a $9M investment by the City of Orlando and Florida Citrus Sports, the 12-acre green space has undergone major upgrades with a nature walking loop, fitness stations, a barrier-free ADA accessible playground, miniature golf, art garden, and splash pad. The renovated park opened in June 2022
In 2021, Lift Orlando was honored as the Floridian of the Year by Florida Trend. Most recently, Lift Orlando and the Orlando Housing Authority received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant to support the planning of the complete redevelopment of Washington Shores’ Lake Mann Homes and West Lakes’ Lorna Doone Apartments.
The organization will be marking the 10th anniversary with a community campaign called Love is Local.