future leaders academy

Riverview High School Special FLA Celebration

UnidosNow and Riverview High celebrate the acceptance of eight students into the 2017 Future Leaders Academy, three juniors and five sophomores. They were among approximately 50 talented students selected from throughout the region.

Thanks to the support of the United Way Suncoast, UnidosNow is able to provide college prep and FAFSA assistance to students at Riverview High.

We thank Deb Piner, college counselor, and the administration for their partnership and support.

From left to right.  Santiago Uribe, Ruby Vila (ESOL coordinator), Hector Tejeda (UnidosNow), Alexis Cejas Carbonell, Jonathan Bruzon, Bridget Coughlin (Guidance Counselor, UnidosNow mentor), Gabriella Hernandez, Nick Sanchez, Alex Celas, Angela Rodriguez, Beth Sheets (IB Advisor), Allison Zavala, and Wendy Barroso (UnidosNow).

Welcome New Scholars

UnidosNow would like to welcome students accepted into the 2017 Future Leaders Academy. There were a record number of applicants this year, making it very challenging to make final selections. Accepted students came from many different backgrounds but had one thing in common, an intense desire to challenge themselves and go to the best college possible.

We are particularly proud of the diversity of high schools represented by this year’s class, with virtually every high school in the region being represented.  Thanks to the many schools and community partners who assisted in identifying these students and encouraging them to apply; the lives of these students are about to be transformed, and we couldn’t have done it without our collaborators.

Reaching Higher

Our Future Leaders Academy students are making us prouder and prouder every day.

  • Jorge Serrano, a senior at Palmetto High School has received the Army ROTC Scholarship. This scholarship will cover all his college costs, from his freshman year through graduation. He wants to pursue a career in the medical field.
  • Jorge Hernandez accompanied our Executive Director to give a presentation to the Manatee Community Foundation Manatee Matches Circle and impressed the donors with his story. Hernandez was given a scholarship of $1,000 from an anonymous donor and also received a laptop donated by a generous donor to send him to college on his way to becoming a veterinarian.

  • Ten fortunate UnidosNow scholars were provided a scholarship to attend ACT preparation classes at USF-Sarasota Manatee. We are grateful to the William Stark  Foundation and Jo-Ann Hillman for their generous support.

  • More college acceptances for our students:

Diamante Luna: Agnes Scott College, Stephens College.

Karen Cruz: University of South Florida.

Freddy Orjuela: University of Central Florida, Wheaton College.

Lorenzo Dubrocq: University of Miami, Rochester Institute of Technology, Lehigh University, Boston University, Colgate University.

Laura Orjuela: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Central Florida, Florida State University.




ACT Prep Class

Our students and sponsors understand the importance of preparing for the ACT, the standardized test many universities ask for from students in their applications. Since for many of our Future Leaders Academy scholars English is their second language, they feel compelled  to put forth more effort than the average student to make sure they obtain scores that  are competitive.

The first weekend in February, Ms. Anita Marcus, member of the Athena Giving Circles, gave her time to prepare our students for the ACT. During the weekend, our scholars received eight hours  of intensive preparation. On February 11th, the students took their ACT test and have markedly improved their scores. Thank you, Ms. Marcus, for your instrumental aid in getting our scholars to a new level.

Lakewood Ranch High Prepares to Host College Tour

In preparation for this year’s College Tour for our Future Leaders scholars, Lakewood Ranch High School and UnidosNow are starting to work together. Last month, the organization visited the premises to give students information about our education programs and FAFSA for seniors.

FAFSA Workshop at Southeast High

Southeast High School hosted financial aid workshops* for their senior students. UnidosNow, together with  volunteers from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida, and Keiser University, assisted students in filling out the their FAFSA, which will help  them receive resources to attend post-secondary school and college. Our Future Leaders Academy scholars were at the sign in table welcoming the families.



*Manatee Community Foundation​ and United Way of Manatee County​ support the initiatives in Manatee County through the Manatee Matches Giving Circle.

McIntosh Middle Program – An Update

Education Initiative Manager, Wendy Barroso, and Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, met with parents at McIntosh Middle School to promote a program, supported by the United Way Suncoast, with middle to top performers in 7th and 8th grade, providing them with the tools they need to think about going to college as they transition to high school.

Several parents enrolled in the program, after hearing the successful stories of current Future Leaders Academy scholars and parents, such as Anthony, who said, “Their help navigating through an unknown system and helping me successfully get into the college of my choice has been invaluable”.


Gecko’s Creates a Scholarship for our Scholars

Gecko’s Hospitality Group Family of Restaurants presented a check to UnidosNow to award scholarships to four of our very deserving scholars. The owners, Mike Quillen and Mike Gowan, have established these scholarships in honor of the loyal and dedicated families that support their children to pursue higher education.

Gecko’s has been a steady supporter of UnidosNow and it is one of the first businesses that has made onsite English-Life Skills classes available for their workers and their families.

We value and appreciate their partnership and commitment to our community.