Disneyland Resort Announces $1.5 Million in Grants to Anaheim Nonprofits and Schools

Dani Decena

by , External Communications Specialist, Disneyland Resort

This #WorkforceWednesday is a big one! As the Disneyland Resort community workforce development initiative heads into its fifth year, we are excited to announce $1.5 million in grants to local nonprofits and school districts. These grants go toward programs like Avanza through Anaheim Family YMCA that prepare high school students with networking skills, resume building and interview techniques and organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & The Inland Empire, which matches high school students with Disneyland Resort mentors for a glimpse into the workforce.  

In total, the Disneyland Resort workforce development initiative has touched more than 10,000 lives over the last five years. $5.5 million of contributions have helped nonprofits and school districts grow their existing workforce programming and develop brand-new programs to meet residents’ unique needs. These grants support long-term collaborations with organizations like Orange County United Way and Chrysalis, and welcome new organizations to the network like Orangewood Foundation and the Community College District of North Orange County. 

Anaheim’s Innovative Mentoring Experience (AIME) is one program Disneyland Resort has supported since 2019, with the Anaheim Union High School District. This program allows students from Anaheim high schools to build relationships with mentors in real workplaces (including Disneyland Resort) to experience the workforce and get a taste for potential career paths.  

Just last week, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock presented AUHSD with funding to help grow the program and give more students an opportunity to explore future careers. 

Ken Potrock (front left) and members of the Corporate Social Responsibility team at Disneyland Resort present a check to AUHSD to give more students opportunities to explore future careers through AIME

“We are so proud to continue our support of Anaheim schools and nonprofits that are championing the workforce of tomorrow,” said Potrock. “We are grateful to be part of the ripple effect of support in our community and shining a light on what these incredible organizations do.” 

AIME Students celebrate an eye-opening day shadowing a Disneyland Resort Duty Manager in front of “it’s a small world”

“While AUHSD has committed to providing our students with the technical and soft skills to be ready for life after high school, having the students work hand-in-hand with industry leaders in our own backyard propels our students to be leaders in their schools and communities and empowers them to be agents of change in their own life to better those around them,” said Ray Solorzano, AIME summer program coordinator. 

From long-term mentoring to facilitating skills workshops, Disneyland Resort cast member volunteers (or Disney voluntEARs) have been allies to these incredible organizations, giving their time and expertise, while building relationships with students and adults entering the workforce. Check out some success stories from the past five years of the program:

Cindy Nguyen (left) and Princeton Parker (right) meet in-person for the first time in Frontierland at the Disneyland Resort

One of the Disney VoluntEARS making a difference is Princeton Parker, associate manager, content programming and synergy. Passionate about inspiring youth, Princeton volunteered to be a part of the Speakers Bureau for the workforce development initiative, which allows him to speak to various groups about his career journey. During virtual leadership sessions with Orange County United Way, he empowered one high school student in particular, Cindy Nguyen, to have more confidence in pursuing her goals. She now works at the Disneyland Resort as a food and beverage cast member! 

Kim Sims works with a client at Chrysalis in Anaheim

Another long-time Disney VoluntEAR is Kim Sims, security manager, who works with clients at Chrysalis to empower them with skills and confidence to land meaningful employment. Since Chrysalis opened in Anaheim in 2018, they have helped over 2,000 individuals find jobs.  Kim has helped prepare them with everything from interview skills to help building a resume, many for the first time.   

Stories like these showcase just how much incredible work is being done to inspire the workforce of tomorrow. Take a look below at how the program has made an impact in Anaheim and be on the lookout for more #WorkforceWednesday success stories in the coming months!  

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