Gov. Rick Scott calls on Florida businesses to volunteer for the needy

Gov. Rick Scott, who won national attention for his program to drug test welfare recipients, announced a new initiative Monday aimed at pairing Florida businesses with needy children, seniors and families.

The "Partners for Promise" initiative ( is aimed at encouraging businesses, many of which have won tax breaks at Scott's behest, to give time through mentoring foster kids, coaching families out of poverty or volunteering to help those fighting addiction or struggling with a pregnancy.

"This is exactly what ought to happen," Scott told reporters. "One thing we gotta do is make sure our state gets back to work. But the other thing we need to do is make sure that all of us participate in helping those that need something."

In three years before becoming governor, Scott earned about $23 million, according to tax returns from 2008, 2009 and 2010. His charitable contributions during that time included a $999 desk and a mahogany armoire to a Naples youth ranch and giving $5,000 to the Cato Institute. His biggest donation of more than $1 million went to Conservatives for Patients Rights, a group he started to fight Obama's health care overhaul.

Scott said today that he also volunteered in a "variety" of ways. "We put together a project in Africa for four years, a healthcare project. It was a primary healthcare system," Scott said. "I was on the United Way board for six years. We've been involved in the 'Y,' the Boys & Girls Club, the zoo. Gosh, just a variety of things."

Business around the state have already volunteered their time and resources, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins said.

Scott and Wilkins were joined today by officials from AT&T, Starbucks, Wells Fargo and Centennial Bank. Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Mentorship Partnership, Big Bend Community Based Care and the Guardian ad Litem programs also attended.