About UnidosNow

#Madewithlove Visit

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Pictured here are the #Madewithlove ladies and UnidosNow supporter Herb Moller.

We were surprised and delighted to receive some wonderful, unexpected community support from Megan, Amanda, and Sonia, who generously baked and delivered homemade cookies to the UnidosNow team in November! They just wanted us to know that we are thought of and cared for. Many thanks to this thoughtful trio for making our day brighter through their #madewithlove campaign!

Herb Moller, a long time supporter and mentor of UnidosNow, was in the office and gladly accepted the gift from these talented ladies.

2Gen Partnership Empowers Parents

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Thanks to the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s 2Gen initiative, UnidosNow and Tuttle Elementary School are partnering to implement an innovative engagement program for parents of Tuttle students. The curriculum, targeting English Learner parents, includes a national parent engagement model, Padres Comprometidos, and ESOL classes.

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Tuttle parents are participating in Padres Comprometidos, a field-tested parent engagement program developed by NCLR, which has met with great success throughout the United States, and which UnidosNow has been trained to implement. Its goal is to create a culture where children are expected to graduate from college by receiving support from their parents and community. The program helps parents build relationships with the school and other parents, as well as their own children; it also helps them develop goals for their children, from the early education years through high school, so that they can attend college.

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In addition, parents are attending on-site ESOL classes, with the goal of improving English speaking and listening skills. The adult learners all share a common interest in learning English to help their children, to communicate in society (teachers, doctors, shopping), and to improve employment opportunities.  Since the classes launched in October, participants have accomplished a strong understanding and pronunciation of the English alphabet, cardinal/ordinal numbers, pronouns, and personal information. But perhaps, most importantly, they are building self-confidence to speak and understand English.

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“Myths & Facts” Presentation at Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County

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In November, UnidosNow’s Executive Director Luz Corcuera spoke to the Healthy Teens Coalition membership about the myths and facts associated with applying to college for low income, first generation high school students.

Some of the myths, which UnidosNow programming directly addresses, include the notion that college is too expensive to consider; it’s unattainable; the student doesn’t have “what it takes;” and/or studying out of state is too costly.

The truth is that these students underestimate their own potential, so that, without the appropriate support to help them realize that potential, they often drop out of college. However, statistics show that a significantly higher percentage of these students graduate when they attend smaller, more selective colleges than most large public universities in Florida.

Merit-based scholarships are often more substantial at such institutions. In order to access these opportunities, students need to take the first step, which is completing the FAFSA. This will determine if Pell Grant money is available to them and will allow them to apply for private scholarships, which require FAFSA completion.

“Inspiring Latinos to Achieve the American Dream” Presentation at AAUW

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The American Association of University Women invited UnidosNow to speak about our work last month. Executive Director Luz Corcuera and FLA Scholar Gabrielle, jointly, presented at this special meeting.

Luz discussed UnidosNow’s mission to empower and inspire young Latinos and their families. Gabrielle spoke about the impact of the programs in which she has participated, in particular, the Future Leaders Academy, and how it motivated her to revamp her resume and essay and apply to selective colleges.

Gabrielle, whose dream is to become a pediatric surgeon, will graduate from high school with an associate’s degree in 2017 and has been accepted to UCF and USF. Exploring all options, she is applying to other schools, as well.

UnidosNow Continues Celebrating Giving Challenge Successes!

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UnidosNow is proud to be one of nine selected winners of the Manatee Millennial Challenge, which was one of the competitions of the 2016 Giving Challenge in September. We are honored and grateful to have been chosen from a pool of 25 great local nonprofits that participated in this new contest. Thanks to the support of the Manatee Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and to the dedicated efforts of our Millennial Volunteer Committee – spearheaded by Juan Arcila – UnidosNow will receive a $5,000 grant.

In addition, we’re thrilled and grateful to have been selected – from among hundreds of applications – as the awardee for Best Social Media Campaign in the category for “Medium Sized Organization.”  Thanks to the generous support of the foundations involved in the Giving Challenge, UnidosNow will receive a $1,500 award for this special recognition.

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Juan Arcila, Volunteer of the Month

juan_arcilaJuan, originally from Colombia, graduated from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs and went on to complete his BS in public health from the University of South Florida, where he is now an admissions counselor at the Sarasota-Manatee campus. Fortunately for UnidosNow, he found us on campus this year while we were holding our Future Leaders Academy (FLA), which our partner, USF Sarasota-Manatee, graciously hosts every summer.

After connecting with the FLA scholars, he gave them individual appointments and let them know what USF has to offer them.  He was so impressed with our program, and saw the value of empowering low income, first generation college students, that he signed up as a volunteer to mentor our scholars. This fall, when UnidosNow decided to participate in the Millennial Challenge, as part of the 2016 Giving Challenge, Juan stepped up to spearhead the efforts of our Millennial Volunteer Committee.

Working as an enthusiastic team player, he coordinated strategies with his fellow committee members and Unidos staff, for encouraging young professionals and philanthropists to get involved with UnidosNow through giving, as well as volunteering/mentoring. Juan launched a Facebook campaign featuring and targeting Millennials to promote the Giving Challenge and spread awareness of UnidosNow and its mission. He connected with youth groups and young professional groups and networked with other Millennial leaders to talk about their passions for community service and brainstorm ideas for future collaborations. Through these experiences, Juan also shared success stories from UnidosNow, and how these young community leaders can partner with Unidos to expand our impact.

But Juan, didn’t stop there! He also reached out to Latino professors and student clubs at universities. As a result, the Millennial Volunteer Committee was able to recruit college students as volunteers to help out with programs and build relationships where they can become mentors for our students.

In addition, Juan and the committee were instrumental in garnering Millennial participation in the community event – an Hispanic Heritage Month celebration – we held during the Giving Challenge.

Thanks to Juan’s leadership, and the active role of the committee, in carrying out a hugely successful Millennial Challenge, UnidosNow will receive a $5,000 grant from the Manatee Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Daniel Paredes, Volunteer of the Month

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We couldn’t be more proud of Daniel, a Future Leaders Academy scholar. As a high school junior, not only is he a stellar student, with a WGPA of 4.4 at Pine View High, but he is a community leader-in-the-making and our volunteer of the month.

Daniel directed and produced the compelling UnidosNow video for our 2016 Giving Challenge campaign, which we entered into the Best Video Contest. He is also developing the design for our organizational brochure.

Daniel, originally from Peru, will be the first in his family to go to college. He has a love of engineering, which was fostered by his father encouraging him to fix things around the house. He’s planning to study engineering at one of the universities where he’ll be applying, including Purdue University Calumet, Syracuse University, and Stanford.

Daniel also happens to love soccer and started an after-school soccer club at Pine View. We know he will go on to great things in the near future! But in the meantime, we’re lucky to have him sharing his brilliant talents with UnidosNow and his community!

Local Government Presents Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamations

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UnidosNow is proud to have received proclamation presentations in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month from our local government offices. Nationally, this observance takes place from September 15 to October 15. This year’s theme, Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future, offers a special opportunity to recognize the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and to celebrate our heritage and culture!

The Manatee County Commission proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Month for the county at its September 13th meeting and the Manatee County School Board did the same at its September 27th meeting. The Sarasota County Commission will issue its proclamation in October.

Many thanks to our elected officials for celebrating our community’s contributions to the local economy, business, arts, culture, cuisine and more!

Future Leaders Academy Scholars Speak to School Board of Manatee County

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Several of UnidosNow’s summer program participants had a special opportunity to share their experiences and excitement about the Future Leaders Academy with the Manatee County School Board and administration at their September 13th meeting.

These talented, enthusiastic young people also announced their plans to lead the development of UnidosNow clubs at their respective high schools during the 2016-17 academic year, so that the powerful college prep information and tools they gained during the summer can be shared with other students during the school year.

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Celebrating our 2016 Giving Challenge Successes

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What a thrilling Giving Challenge campaign we held in September! Thanks to the generous support of our friends, family, and the community, UnidosNow raised a total of $36,440, from 166 on- and off-line donations, that will help expand our college prep and access services for talented, hardworking, first generation, low income students who want to pursue higher education.

We started out the month on an a exciting note, having been one of 20 participating nonprofits selected to receive a $200 grant for the Best 2015 Giving Challenge Story. Then, UnidosNow collaborated with several new partners for this year’s Challenge, which made it that much more energizing! Our young professional committee volunteers led the charge for us to compete in the Millennial Challenge. Juan Arcila, Kelly Rodenas, and Carolina Saavedra organized outreach to young philanthropists, including a community event at the restaurant, Mi Pueblo, which graciously hosted us and donated 10% of proceeds to support our Giving Challenge campaign. As part of our goals for the Millennial Challenge, we will recruit young, new mentors to help conduct FAFSA workshops this year.

During this year’s Challenge, UnidosNow also partnered with the Ringling, which hosted a special tour of their GraphicStudio exhibit, Collaborating Across Borders, featuring Latin American artists, in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. The UnidosNow familia, including staff, board, volunteers, and students, enjoyed the event.

Osciel and Omar Urbina, two of our dynamic Future Leaders scholars, who are part of Manatee High’s jazz band, took their group to the Giving Challenge Donor Lounge and delighted the audience with their music. You can find it in our Facebook page.

We are also extremely proud of the Giving Challenge 2016 video that our Future Leaders Academy students created! If you didn’t have a chance to view it during the Challenge, we know you will enjoy watching the short video, here.

The UnidosNow DREAM team is so deeply grateful to each of our donors who made our 2016 Giving Challenge campaign such a tremendous success! Thank you! ¡Mil Gracias!