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Anaheim Gathering Promotes ‘audacious’ Plan To Improve O.c.

FACE 2024 seeks to reduce high-school dropouts, cut childhood obesity and reduce the percentage of homeless children.

By DOUGLAS MORINO / STAFF WRITER, Orange County Register l Published: 3.7.14 Updated: 3.8.14

An ambitious plan to combat some of the biggest issues facing many Orange County communities – unemployment, homelessness and high school drop-out rates – was considered by elected leaders gathered from across the county in a fourth-floor conference room at Angel Stadium Friday. “This is way too important not to make happen,” said county Supervisor Todd Spitzer during an afternoon workshop where officials talked about building support for the plan. “This is all about the future of Orange County.”

The FACE 2024 program, launched in September by Orange County United Way, seeks specifically to slash high-school dropouts to less than 2,000 students a year from about 4,000, cut childhood obesity rates by a third and reduce the percentage of homeless children in half. The program also seeks to reduce unemployment and create workforce training. There is no clear blueprint yet to achieve those countywide goals; the event on Friday was considered an initial step.

Those in the room agreed it was an audacious goal for Orange County United Way, the nonprofit that helped sponsor the Orange County’s Visionary Leaders’ Conference and drafted the 10-year plan to address issues discussed during the day-long seminar. And building support across the county, city leaders acknowledged, could be a challenge.

“Something that works in Anaheim might not work in Westminster,” Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey said. Several of the leaders who spoke during the afternoon workshop looked to county officials to lead the effort to build support across communities. Along with the Orange County United Way, the conference was sponsored by the Association of California Cities-Orange County and Spitzer’s office. Cities represented at the event included Fountain Valley, Westminster, Huntington Beach, Alisa Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Anaheim and Irvine.

The Orange County United Way is hoping to open lines of communication between dozens of public agencies across the county to achieve its goals. The nonprofit seeks to develop funding for programs, help elected leaders build local support while simultaneously educating the business community and residents about key issues facing the county before a specific roadmap is developed and, eventually, executed.

“I think it’s a great start to have community leaders come together and acknowledge the issues in their communities,” said Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras, who also works as a senior manager of education for the Orange County United Way. “What hurts one city hurts another. We’re all one entity.”

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