Bezos Academy: Tuition-free preschool opening in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new preschool will soon send young children to school tuition-free in Orlando.

The Bezos Academy is opening along Mercy Drive and is meant to cut out some of the barriers for parents when it comes to child care.


According to data from the Center for American Progress, daycare shortages are mostly reported on the outskirts of Orlando, but in the city’s core the barrier for many is cost.

Doneldo Menocal and Mark DeMaio said with high costs and multiple kids, daycare wasn’t ever a consideration.

Read: Parents call on Congress for long-term funding for affordable childcare

“Yeah, daycare does not seem very feasible when you’re feeding a large family,” DeMaio said.

When it comes to kids younger than 5, two major problems exist: a shortage of centers and high costs to enroll children.

While Orlando isn’t experiencing a major shortage of centers, high poverty remains a barrier.

Read: Report highlights childcare availability and affordability concerns for military families

Federal programs like Head Start cover childcare for families making below the poverty level. But that means just $30,000 for a family of four, which is a dollar amount that leaves lots of families behind.

“A lot of them make more than $30,000 a year but still can’t afford an early childhood education for their kids,” said Mike George, president of Bezos Academy.

That’s why the Bezos Academy opened its first Florida location on Mercy Drive Wednesday. Classes will start next Monday for 40 students.

The school is located within a multifamily affordable housing community called Village on Mercy.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.