Disney's Programs Offer a Wide Range of Support
In The Bethune-Cookman College Work Experience Program, first-semester sophomores who are majoring in hotel and restaurant management spend 12 weeks in food and beverage or hotel operations at Walt Disney World. Students spend some time in the classroom, then some time on-site.
College students live in company-provided housing at Disneyland or Walt Disney World while attending 10 weekly seminars to learn about the leisure and entertainment industries. Classes are taught by Disney professionals. Students also work on-site.
Students get on-site, hands-on experience at a Disney location in such areas as: animation, design and engineering, architectural planning and engineering, marketing, attractions, merchandise and food management. For example, the Animation Internship Program gives students from U.S. art schools internships in the feature animation department located at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park.
The Challenge Program gives potential dropouts who live in the Walt Disney World area a chance to finish their high school educations. Students go to school for half a day, then work for the other half. (For more information on this program, see main story.)
The Disney Studios in Burbank, California has partnered with Monterey High School, a continuation school in Burbank. Disney cast members in the area teach classes at the school throughout the school year. Some students participate in a four-week job-shadowing program to learn about their fields of interest. Others work at the studios through the JTPA program.
Walt Disney World cast members have adopted schools in Florida and California. For example, through The Compact Program, a cast member who's in management becomes a mentor and life advisor to one of the 100 students at Dr. Phillips High School in Central Florida, about nine miles from Walt Disney World.
Each year, a student from each of Central Florida's 20 high schools who wouldn't normally have the funds receives a fully paid, four-year scholarship to go on to the Florida college of his or her choice. More than 60 Disney scholars currently are going to college on the Mouse.
Honors and awards.
Walt Disney World's Dreamers and Doers Program rewards hard-working elementary, middle and high school students statewide for demonstrating curiosity, confidence, courage or constancy in school or in extracurricular activities, while also overcoming personal challenges. Students are brought to the park for a weekend event, which is topped off with a presentation by a celebrity. Past presenters have included astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr., baseball pitcher Dave Dravecky and actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner The Cosby Show. Seven hundred and fifty Florida students have received the "Phi Beta Mickey" award.
In-school drug prevention.
The Disney Crew is an anti-drug puppet troupe that has spread the just-say-no-to-drugs-and-alcohol message in an entertaining way to almost every third-grader in Central Florida. The program is a team effort with The Center for Drug-Free Living.
The Teacher-rific Merit Awards program gives $1,000 ($500 to the teacher, $500 to the school) to an outstanding teacher or teacher group in each of Central Florida's 180 public schools each year. The award recognizes innovative and successful teaching techniques.
American Teacher Awards.
Each year, the company conducts a national search (coordinated by a national advisory committee of educators), for the best U.S. teachers in several different fields of instruction. The three-hour awards presentation is telecast on the Disney Channel and is highlighted by celebrity presenters and the honored teachers—each of whom is profiled during the show. One Teacher of the Year award, which includes a cash prize, is given at the end of the presentation.
Teachers learn to apply entertainment and communication techniques to the classroom through seminars offered at the Epcot Teachers' Center located at Walt Disney World.
New art talent and potential employees are identified by going into schools to work individually with students who display a talent in the arts. The students are given the opportunity to attend talent seminars, career workshops and informational talks given by entertainment professionals at Disney theme parks.
Since 1974, Disney professionals have gone into Central Florida's eighth-grade classrooms once a week to teach students about business topics through its Project Business program. Disney also supports the national Junior Achievement program through special events, like hosting the 1991 Junior Achievement's National Hall of Fame at Walt Disney World, which brought 1,600 of the nation's top business leaders together to honor and inspire students. Disney also gives a $2,000 scholarship to the top junior achiever in Central Florida.
Personnel Journal, December 1992, Vol. 71, No. 12, p. 61.