First Lady Casey DeSantis announced a partnership between New College of Florida and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) on Thursday while speaking at the higher-learning institution. 

The core focus of this collaboration is to enhance employment avenues for students, with an emphasis on supporting those with disabilities.

The announcement arrives during the Disability Employment Awareness Month, highlighting Florida’s proactive measures to integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce. 

The partnership aims to offer students a platform to transition effectively from academia to employment, ensuring they are equipped with the necessary tools and opportunities to navigate the job market.

New College is set to be the inaugural state university to partner as an employment sponsor with Hope Florida, a DCF initiative aiding Floridians in moving away from public assistance programs. 

Initiated by First Lady Casey DeSantis and backed by several state departments, Hope Florida was introduced in 2021. From its establishment, the program has assisted over 74,000 individuals, with more than 8,500 of its participants decreasing or fully cutting their dependence on public assistance for food or monetary necessities.

“New College will take the lead as the inaugural employer support. They will collaborate with the agency catering to individuals with distinct abilities,” DeSantis said at the announcement.

New College will also offer two complete scholarships to individuals enrolled in the Hope Florida program.

New College of Florida Campus
New College of Florida Campus

New College of Florida is proud to partner with First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope Florida initiative through employment and educational opportunities,” said New College President Richard Corcoran. “During Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are thrilled that this initiative connects us with Floridians served by Hope Florida including those with unique abilities who are looking for job opportunities and scholarship assistance.”

DeSantis has introduced several other initiatives as First Lady. In February 2022, doctors announced Casey DeSantis was cancer-free. Since then, DeSantis has become an advocate for those affected by cancer. She has contributed to securing significant funds for cancer research and care and introduced the Florida Cancer Connect initiative. This initiative offers centralized information on cancer treatments, caregiver resources, and accounts from Floridians who have faced cancer.

DeSantis also initiated the Cancer Connect Collaborative, bringing together leading medical professionals to evaluate and refine Florida’s strategy against cancer. Under the umbrella of this collaborative, Florida now collects cancer recurrence data, facilitating research. 

In acknowledgment of her contributions, the Florida Legislature renamed the Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program to the “Casey DeSantis Cancer Research Program.”

Another area of focus for the First Lady is substance abuse prevention. In December 2019, Casey DeSantis introduced the “The Facts. Your Future.” campaign, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education. This initiative provides students with information about substance abuse and tools to prevent addiction. “The Facts. Your Future.” has conducted school assemblies in many Florida counties to educate students on the consequences of drug use.

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