Education Archives | UnidosNow

An Unprecedented FAFSA Challenge Success

Since the Manatee College Access Network (MCAN) formally organized last fall to improve student access and entry into post-secondary education, its member agencies jumped into the FAFSA challenge in late 2016.  This resulted in a significant accomplishment for the community: $658, 625 additional Pell grant dollars to Manatee students over the prior year.

With a capacity-building grant from the Florida College Access Network, the MCAN will begin its strategic planning process this summer, using a collective impact model. UnidosNow will serve as the MCAN’s backbone organization over the next year to help facilitate this process for the community.

Participating MCAN organizations include: Manatee Technical College, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida, Boys and Girls Club, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Goodwill, Career Edge Funders, Career Source, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Education Foundation, Manatee Technical College, Manatee County Library, Manatee County Government, Manatee Community Foundation, United Way of Manatee, School District of Manatee County, and Bradenton Area Economic Development.

UnidosNow’s presence in the schools, working with students to complete their FAFSA application, also made a difference in Sarasota county, which won “MVP for Large Districts” from the Florida College Access Network. We are proud to be part of the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership that helped to get 45.5% of Sarasota County high school seniors to complete their FAFSA, resulting in an estimated increase of $513,000 of Pell Grants being accessed by Sarasota County students.





Gocio’s Families Together Program

Photography by Karen Arango, karenarango.com

Proud parents of our Families Together program at Gocio Elementary School had their graduation ceremony. This program has been made possible thanks to the support of the 2Gen fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Gocio Elementary school students and their proud principal Mr. Royce attended the ceremony as well as Roxie Jerde, John Annis, Terri Vitale, Nelle Miller, Rick Gomez, and Rebekah Leopold of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Celebrating our Students on their Signing Day

May 25th was a very special date for our Future Leaders Academy Scholars. Families, friends, community partners, UnidosNow mentors, Board and staff gathered at Manatee Technical College to celebrate their graduation from high school and their acceptance into college. We are very proud of them and wish them success in their next adventure. It’s been a pleasure working with all, and we cannot wait to hear about all their future accomplishments.

College Tour Spring 2017

Our Future Leaders scholars and parents spent two days traveling around Florida, from college to college. On the first day, they visited Rollins College and the University of Central Florida; on the second day, they visited Eckerd College and Saint Leo University. This tour gave our students and their parents a better idea of where they would want to spend their college years.

Neil Comber shares his reflection on why he became a mentor

“As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I have long appreciated the value of a college degree. Coming from Mexico, it served me well to open doors to a successful global business career.

What is different today for students is that the application process is much more complex and competitive. When I met with Luz, I quickly signed up to be a mentor. Part of the reason was I was so impressed with the comprehensive process at UnidosNow.

In my experience, it as unmatched in its ability to help Latino students understand that college is necessary, and help them take the steps to make it a reality for them.

Once I started, I found my students to be eager and open to receiving help. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to give advice, motivate and encourage. All of them are from immigrant families with all the attendant difficulties of living in a foreign land and having to assimilate. When I heard that each of them had been accepted to college, I felt a huge sense of pride and super excited for their futures.

I will definitely mentor again. The experience with UnidosNow has shown me that while my one-on-one coaching with my students may have only been a little ‘granito de arena’ (grain of sand) in the process, it is so important to help these young people take a very big step in their journey of success in life. Anything I can do to help in their journey is worth the time and commitment. Enhorabuena to all the students and their families who embrace this journey.”

We are grateful to Neil Comber for mentoring three students that have been successful in their college attainment. We are still in the process of recruiting new mentors. We hope you will consider mentoring a student this year. Please do contact Luz Corcuera if you feel inclined to help: luz@unidosnow.org or call (941) 840-0266.

Financial Aid Through FAFSA

FAFSA labs are still happening in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Last month UnidosNow assisted students and their families at Bayshore High School, North Port High, and the Boys & Girls Club.

Bayshore High School organized the last FAFSA lab for the 2017 class. Mrs. Roberts, the Career counselor, hosted the event that convened several families. Financial aid officers from theUniversity of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the State College of Florida,  along with UnidosNow staff and members of Bayshore High’s UnidosNow Club, helped families to fill out their FAFSA application.

Leadership in Practice

We are extremely proud of the scholars that have taken the lead as officers of the UnidosNow High School Clubs. They have been offering workshops, assisting their peers with FAFSA applications and, in some of schools, working on fundraising events for a college tour. The Palmetto High club is planning a trip to visit Florida State University in Tallahassee.

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.