future leaders academy

College Prep Programs Expand

UnidosNow piloted  our high school program at Sarasota High and Palmetto High during the 2015-2016 academic year. This academic year the program has expanded to several other high schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Two of our recent launches have been at Riverview High* and North Port High*.

Working closely with Riverview High faculty and staff, as well as other non-profit partners, our goal is to assist low-income students who aspire to continue their education after high school.  Our first two initiatives included a FAFSA workshop to assist families in filing for federal financial aid and a scholarship workshop conducted in conjunction with the Selby Foundation.

Riverview High SchoolRiverview High School
In the background, Alix Giannini (Director of Counseling Services at Riverview) and Deb Piner (College and Career Advisor); in the forefront, community partners from Keiser University and the Sarasota County Government Human Services Program.Wendy Barroso (UnidosNow) assisting a student and his Spanish-speaking father fill out the FAFSA application.
Riverview High SchoolRiverview High School
Evan Jones (Selby Foundation), Hector Tejeda (UnidosNow) and Deb Piner (College and Career Advisor, Riverview High).Evan Jones (Selby Foundation) giving overview of how to apply for local scholarships.

We are supporting North Port High with their FAFSA application process thanks to the support of Tervis, and starting in March, we will also  begin working at North Port High , identifying and supporting high-performing Latino students who have the potential to gain admission to competitive colleges. We will also provide support to the school’s college and career advisor, as well as guidance counselors, in serving the broader Latino student population to make informed plans for their future.

UnidosNow will also develop and deliver age-appropriate college prep workshops, starting with middle schoolers transitioning to North Port High.  These sessions will include working with parents to help them better understand how to  support their children’s education, including how to get more involved with the school.

*The Riverview High School program is supported by the United Way Suncoast. The North Port High School program is supported by Tervis.

Choosing a Career Based on your Passion

On Wednesday, February 15th, the UnidosNow Club at Palmetto High School hosted a meeting focused on how to choose a career. Juan Arcila, Admissions Counselor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, engaged the students with a dynamic presentation, encouraging them to look for a career in a field they are passionate about. Dr. Giti Javidi, Assistant Professor of Information Technology at USF Sarasota-Manatee, shared her love of information technology, and did a fabulous job talking about the benefits of choosing a career in the areas of engineering/information technology.

The meeting wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jorge Serrano and the officers of the UnidosNow Club, who motivated their peers to be a part of this event. Also, Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Vasquez, teachers at Palmetto High, were key to the success of this event.

Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, stated after the meeting how appreciative UnidosNow is of all these community partners: “We are grateful for your leadership and partnership as we work together to empower our young Latino students. It is a privilege to work with all of you.”

Allstate Foundation Donates $1,000 to UnidosNow

From left to right, Board Member, Frankie Soriano; Board Chair, Kelly Kirschner; Executive Director, Luz Corcuera; long-term UnidosNow supporter, Manuel Chepote; and Communications Director, Beatriz Paniego-Béjar.

Thanks to the endless support of our volunteer Manuel Chepote – who has been a mentor, advisory board member, and amazing advocate of UnidosNow since 2010 – we recently received a $1,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation.

Manuel is one of their agents, whose office is located in downtown Sarasota, and he has secured this donation to support our Future Leaders Academy and the work we do to ensure our students get the help they need to walk through the college application process. Thank you, Allstate Foundation and Manuel!

The Good News Keeps Coming: More Scholars Receive their College Acceptances

The closer we get to graduation, the more college acceptances our scholars are receiving. We continue feeling enormously proud of them, and we know they wouldn’t have come this far without the passionate support of all their mentors. Congratulations, FLA graduates, and thank you, mentors!









FAFSA Lab at Braden River

On Thursday, January 26th, students of the UnidosNow Club, financial aid officers from the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida and Keiser University, and other volunteers were helping families to fill out their FAFSA at Braden River High School. The organization and welcoming of Braden River staff was excellent, and through this FAFSA workshop we guided students to get financial aid to go to college.

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

UnidosNow’s Board Chair, Education Winner at the Unity Awards

UnidosNow’s Board of Directors Chair, Kelly Kirschner, received the Unity Award in the Education category this year, because he “sees education as the ticket to self-improvement, productivity and democracy.” Read the full article from Biz941 here.

The award was received by Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, on Tuesday, January 24th, at the Unity Awards event at Michael’s On East. Corcuera gave a heartfelt speech, having in mind all of our Future Leaders Academy Scholars:

“Education is a basic right for everyone, but it is also a responsibility that the community has to take at heart. We are all responsible for our children’s education and we must look at them as ‘our’ children.

Kelly understood this early on and during his studies at Georgetown University and his involvement with the Peace Corps, he immersed himself in the richness of the culture and the language of the people of Guatemala.  During his tenure as a Mayor of Sarasota, he realized very quickly that the Latino community was the fastest growing  group in Sarasota-Manatee and had the vision to create UnidosNow as the center to empower Latinos in Sarasota and Manatee to achieve the American Dream.

It is now up to all of us to continue promoting education in an environment that fosters love, kindness, and hope.  We celebrate the Unity Awards and the inspiring people they honor today because of their contributions to continue to make America the great country it is with its rich diversity.”

Our Youth is the Future

By Luz Corcuera

Almost exactly one year ago, in February 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of Japanese students who were visiting St. Stephen’s Episcopal School as a part of an exchange program. Mr. Patrick Whelan, Head of Social Studies, invited me to speak with the students, and our discussion centered on social justice, peace, poverty, immigration, marginalization, education, and social determinants of health.

After that encounter, some students kept in touch with me, including Akisumi Nouguchi. Akisumi is an impressive young man who really wants to use science to help humanity. He has now prepared a brochure (please see below) to explain what happened in Kumamoto (Japan) after two earthquakes struck this place in just two days. Akisumi shared his project with me and asked me to share it with my network. I hope you find his work and passion as enlightening and inspiring as I found it.

This will be the generation to bridge divides and create a just and peaceful world for subsequent generations.

Thank you, Akisumi, for sharing your work with us.