Recognizing the need to reverse the rising dropout rate and assist high school students, in April of 1988, Orlando Mayor Bill Frederick called upon a group of leaders to go beyond just an examination of the problem and to take it a step further to developing a program that would
“promote opportunity for all of our youth – especially the less advantaged – to become productive members and part of the mainstream of the Orlando Community.”
This group became the Mayor’s Commission on Youth Opportunities, and quickly resolved to approach the challenges through a broad-based effort involving Orange County Public Schools, private businesses, government and the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce.
On April 4, 1989, the Orlando/Orange County COMPACT Program became a reality. It officially began with a pilot program of 14 students at Jones High School, mentored by 13 professionals from Coopers & Lybrand and AT&T District Manager A. George Fuller. In February 1994, Mr. Fuller became the third Executive Director of COMPACT when he became a loaned executive from AT&T. Upon his retirement in May, 1994, he was hired by OCPS to resume duties as the director of COMPACT.
Since its’ inception in 1989, COMPACT has served more than 12,000 students. For the current school year, COMPACT is operational in 16 school sites: Acceleration Academy, Dr. Phillips High School, Freedom High School, Gateway School, Howard Middle School, Jones High School, Memorial Middle School, Mollie Ray Elementary School, Oak Ridge High School, Orange Center Elementary School, Orlo Vista Elementary School, Silver Star Center, South Creek Middle School, Three Points Elementary School, Timber Creek High School, and Vista Lakes Elementary School.
Three main events highlight the year for COMPACT: the Annual Washington D.C. Cultural and Educational Trip, the “Salute to COMPACT” Awards Banquet and the Annual COMPACT Golf Tournament. The Washington D.C. Trip, a week long once-in-a-lifetime excursion to our nations’ capital has been conducted annually since 1992 for approximately 20 special achieving COMPACT students. These students are winners of a year long competition emphasizing good grades, attendance and behavior, community service; as well as written and verbal skills. Since entering into office, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has met with the COMPACT group every year. The group also has had the opportunity to meet with many other government, military and international officials.
The Salute to COMPACT Awards Banquet was originated in 1995 by the inspiration and leadership of James Etscorn of Baker & Hostetler, LLP., a past chairperson of the COMPACT Board of Directors. The event is held each fall and serves to recognize outstanding COMPACT students, parents, mentors, teachers, administrators and business partners. It is hosted annually by Baker and Hostetler with corporate sponsorships and support from a number of other businesses.
The annual COMPACT Golf Tournament began in 2010 as a way to raise money for COMPACT scholarships.
COMPACT has continued to respond to former Mayor Bill Frederick’s challenge and is, indeed, helping less advantaged youth on the journey to become productive mainstream citizens.