CENTRAL FLORIDA URBAN LEAGE SUPPORTS ENTREPRENEURS
By FRANCISCO GONZALEZ
Since becoming President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League (CFUL) in 2016, Glen Gilzean has taken the organization to new heights, with a focus on what he calls “The Three E’s: Education, Employment, and Entrepreneurship: We believe the three E’s will really eradicate generational poverty,” said Gilzean.
When he came to the Central Florida Urban League in late 2015, the nonprofit organization was in $1.2 million in debt. He didn’t take a salary for the first seven months on the job, living only off his personal savings. He finally collected his first paycheck from CFUL and was permanently named CEO in July 2016. From there, he has spent the rest of his time helping other people in the black community earn their own paycheck too, taking them from welfare to work. While the CFUL office is located in Pine Hills, the organization services populations in the seven Central Florida counties of Polk, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia. They also have plans to add a satellite office in Sanford and other locations in the region.
Under his leadership, the Central Florida Urban League has grown in size, influence, and impact. In 2018, the CFUL was named the best affiliate in the country by the National Urban League. And in 2019, Gilzean was named one of Central Florida’s CEO’s of the year by Orlando Business Journal. While Gilzean was at the head of leadership, he stresses that “there is no ‘I’ in team” and gave much of the credit for this success to everyone on staff and on the board for working together to turn the organization around. He also gave credit to someone else.
Most of what Gilzean learned in his life came from his mother. She always taught him the importance of learning to read and acquiring work experience. He’s been putting that philosophy to work to help transform the lives of so many others.
Last fall, Gilzean and the CFUL hosted an event with Ashley Bell, the White House Policy Advisor for Opportunity Zones and the Regional Administrator for the Small Business Administration. That day, Gilzean and Bell both signed a Memorandum of Agreement with to partner in developing Opportunity Zones here in Orlando – the first Urban League in the country to be a partner with the SBA. “The concept behind it is how can we incentivize private capital in underserved communities” with tax incentives for businesses and access to capital for entrepreneurs of minority-led businesses and impoverished areas.
Building on their many programs that have been historically focused on those in the black community, but open to all, the CFUL recently announced that they are now an approved Microsoft Office Specialist provider – a first for any Urban League in the country. This means that they will be providing programs to train those in the IT industry to become certified to be a Microsoft Office Specialist. “We realized that if you have this certification, you can demand roughly about $17,000 more a year (in salary),” said Gilzean. And in today’s COVID world, with so much being digital, it makes this skill set even more important. “We are working to get people … gainfully back to work as soon as possible,” said Gilzean.
Their first Microsoft Office Specialist course kicks off in September 2020. To find out more, contact the Central Florida Urban League at (407) 841-7654, email them at , or visit their website at cful.org.
Glen Gilzean was also recently featured on Episode 80 of the Agents of Innovation podcast, hosted by Francisco Gonzalez, the author of this article.
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