community foundation of sarasota county

Welcoming & Empowering New Neighbors Builds a Stronger Community-wide Family: UnidosNow’s Parent Leadership Program

By Marnie Howell, Parent Leadership, Parent Leadership Director

Imagine a class where adult learners convene to gain skills that help them better navigate, and contribute to, their new country and community. Their countries of origin are Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Ukraine, and Venezuela. They join UnidosNow’s Parent Leadership program to learn language and life skills needed in the U.S. to help propel them, and their families, to success. Our parent leaders reflect the multicultural quilt that is our nation.

Our Parent Leadership program at Gocio Elementary School in December 2019.

“How do you say hello in Arabic?” “Why do you call your child papacito?” “What are avocado leaves good for?” These are questions that pop up in class. Often, there are three languages going back and forth, including English. Enthusiasm and body language fill in the gaps.

This pandemic has opened-up new and different opportunities for interactions. UnidosNow is no longer in the classroom itself, but operates virtually and, if needed, in person, masked- up and following CDC guidelines. In the spring of this year, many of our families found themselves without jobs, confronting financial crises that impacted their ability to cover rent, utilities, and food. UnidosNow, in collaboration with community partners, stepped in with a temporary emergency fund. Additionally, one of those partners, Harvest House, provided boxes of nutritious food for our families over many weeks.

Realizing that some of our families had no transportation to receive food boxes, nine individuals within our organization, volunteered to be drivers. However, more than food arrived at the doorsteps of those who could not drive. New friendships were forged, as in the case of Adriana and Kateryna. Although both were participants in our Parent Leadership program, they had never met in person. Adriana, who was a pediatric nurse in Venezuela, was eager to help with any deliveries. Kateryna, an elementary teacher in Ukraine, was grateful to receive some of those deliveries. In her words: “I have an interesting, wonderful life. I would never have thought I would be part of a Latin American family.” It is difficult to put into words all the aspects of our Parent Leadership Program, but one thing is for sure: it’s not just about learning English.

One of the last Parent Leadership meetings of 2020.

Through the program, parents build trust and community with UnidosNow and among each other. The program recognizes and fosters the parents’ social capital, which emphasize, and draws upon, all of the strengths and abilities they have brought with them to their new community. So, while they have the opportunity to learn about local community resources and the US education system, they also share their gifts and talents with their new neighbors and lend peer support to other parents.

And, as we are living Life in the Time of Coronavirus, it’s more apparent than ever that we, as a community, need, value, and deeply benefit from good neighbors!

Shared Empowerment: The Partnership Between UnidosNow and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

By Roxie Jerde

Just as UnidosNow is turning 10-years old this year, so too is its partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Our two community-minded organizations were brought together by a shared vision to empower families and individuals across generations to reach their full potential, and since then our partnership has only grown stronger and more interconnected.

As an early adopter of our 2-Gen philosophy, UnidosNow continues to be an invaluable partner in creating cycles of opportunities for children and their families. This genuine care for our community is also reflected in UnidosNow’s work within our Season of Sharing network, helping support our most vulnerable neighbors in crisis with immediate basic needs as a way to regain stability and security.

I am always proud to mention that UnidosNow was one of the first organizations to join The Giving Partner and participate in our inaugural Giving Challenge, a tradition it has enthusiastically continued with award-winning campaigns throughout our last seven challenges. In our most recent challenge – the 2020 Giving Challenge – UnidosNow received $283,000 in gifts from more than 330 donors, a campaign that was recognized with four distinct awards: Best Nonprofit Partnership with Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County; Best Board Member Engagement; Best Use of Social Media; and, the second Best Overall Campaign as a medium-sized organization. All these distinctions culminated in UnidosNow celebrating a third-place finale on our leaderboard, out of 686 local participating nonprofit organizations.

And donors have resonated with these efforts: to date, UnidosNow has been awarded more than $1,328,000 in grants to further their causes, including The Giving Challenge. Just within the last year, UnidosNow has transformed this generous funding into multi-generational opportunities for connection and empowerment, from supporting families through its Parent Leadership Program at Tuttle, Gocio, Emma E. Booker and Alta Vista Elementary Schools to addressing virtual needs – of students and parents alike – that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even civic engagement and voter registration are part and parcel of UnidosNow’s work, as seen during its Mi Voto, Mi Futuro campaign that was supported by the Athena Progressive Giving Circle of the Community Foundation.

All of us at the Community Foundation want to congratulate UnidosNow and its incredible board, staff, and volunteers for reaching this significant milestone. Cheers to 10-years of making a difference, and here’s to the next 10 and many, many more!

2018 Giving Challenge

Mark your calendars for May 1st and 2nd, when you’ll have the opportunity to help our students and families continue to thrive by donating to the Giving Challenge, presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County—with each gift strengthened by The Patterson Foundation.

What’s particularly exciting this year is that The Patterson Foundation will provide a 1:1 match for all unique donations—up to $100 per donor, per organization—without  a limit to the number of individual matches from unique donors (individuals with a personal credit/debit card) a nonprofit can receive during these 24 hours.

“Be the One” to support our students and families of UnidosNow.

Your donation is crucial. We are asking for your support so more students and families can take advantage of our programs.

You can continue to make a difference because your contribution can help us establish the following programs in even more Sarasota and Manatee county schools:

  • Our Future Leaders Academy for Girls (FLAG), and our Future Leaders Academy for Middle Schoolers (FLAMS), which enable low-income elementary and middle-school students and their families learn about the path to higher education and develop critical skills.
  • Our Families Together Program equip parents of low-income, first generation students with the knowledge and skills for learning how to succeed in the education system in the United States by integrating indispensable life and language skills and building social capital.
  • Our Future Leaders Academy provides Manatee and Sarasota high-school seniors with the tools to successfully be admitted to college, as they pursue their academic and professional journey.
  • THE GANAS program informs and supports those students wanting to pursue technical school, a two- or four-year college, or the military. Aptly named, the translation of “ganas”is grit or desire to succeed, which is what our students embody.

On behalf of the UnidosNow students, parents, mentors, volunteers, staff, and Board, we appreciate all your support and the difference you’re making in so many people’s lives.

Please support UnidosNow during this Giving Challenge—from noon to noon on May 1st and 2nd—and help empower our students and their families. Stay tuned on May 1st at 12 p.m. when the donation link will be live to participate and donate during the 2018 Giving Challenge.

As in the past, thank you for your unselfish commitment. Together we can Be the One.

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.

2Gen Partnership Empowers English Language Learners

Thanks to support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s 2Gen initiative, UnidosNow and the Salvation Army have been able to implement an innovative English language instruction program for the Salvation Army’s Impact Families participants. Two ESOL-certified teachers lead this project. The adult English Language Learners, who attended the summer program, demonstrated an average of 60% gains in post-test results.

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Be The One To Inspire a Student

Our talented scholars of the Future Leaders Academy inspire us to continue working from them -and for the generations to come- and guide them to dream big and reach high.

Our tremendous mentors inspire our students to find their passion, and to believe in themselves to accomplish their goals.

Our committed parents inspire all of us in the pursue of their American Dream.

During the Future Leaders Summer Academy, our students were asked to create a personal statement, a presentation of who they are, and what they want to achieve. METV joined UnidosNow during the closing ceremonies of our Rising Juniors and Rising Seniors classes, giving us the possibility of sharing with all of you their powerful stories and outstanding talents. With them, we wish to also inspire you.

Future Leaders Academy – Rising Juniors Closing Ceremony

Future Leaders Academy – Rising Seniors Closing Ceremony

But now it’s your turn to inspire a student. We are counting on you –our friends and supporters– to help expand and enhance our programs through the 24-hour online giving event, from noon to noon on September 20 and 21, the Giving Challenge 2016. Learn how simple will be to donate here.

It only takes one to inspire a student. Be The One.

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We Are Almost There

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We are sure you have heard it from all the other great non profits in the area you are involved with. And we know that all of them deserve your attention, because there are so many great causes that our extremely amazing philanthropic community takes on to improve the lives of Manatee and Sarasota counties’ peoples, environment and animals.

We know you already know about the Giving Challenge 2016, and how we all want you to Be The One to take on all these different causes and make a difference.

And we also know that you are here reading this email because you care about UnidosNow, because you are aware of our impactful work with low-income students who are looking for an opportunity to continue their post-secondary studies, because you already are The One who has made a difference in their lives.

But once again we want to ask you to continue supporting our young leaders, because this is the strong impact you have already had on them. So imagine how many more students’ lives you can touch by simply supporting UnidosNow during the Giving Challenge 2016 that will happen online, from September 20th at 12pm to September 21st at 12pm.

24 hours that could mean more students served.

24 hours that could mean more high-schools reached.

24 hours that could mean more 2-gen workshops provided.

Because:

  • $25 sponsors materials for one scholar for college prep workshops
  • $50 sponsors refreshments for 1 scholar during year-long college prep activities
  • $100 sponsors a college tour for 1 scholar or a parent
  • $250 sponsors all college prep workshops for 1 scholar or a parent for one year
  • $500 supports UnidosNow’s transformational change to expand programming into elementary, middle, and additional high schools

Imagine the possibilities. Be The One to inspire a student.

2Gen Support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Hector with Pedro, Anthony, and Omar

Hector Gutierrez, Anthony Gutierrez, Omar Santana, and Pedro Gomez just came back from an amazing experience! The Community Foundation awarded a 2Gen grant sponsoring Hector Gutierrez, Anthony’s father, to attend a baseball camp in Baltimore. Hector also chaperoned two other  participants, Omar and Pedro, from Sarasota-Manatee.

The kids learned leadership skills, team building, baseball, and learned healthy competitive spirit.  Hector was honored to be entrusted with chaperoning all three young people. The  boys are highly motivated to engage in sports, keep an active lifestyle, and do well in school.

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