future leaders academy Archives | Page 5 of 9 | UnidosNow

Ongoing FAFSA Outreach & Support Efforts

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The UnidosNow education team and partners have been crisscrossing Manatee and Sarasota counties in the last month, working to ensure high school seniors have the critical information needed to complete their FAFSA. We conducted numerous outreach activities to inform students and families about FAFSA labs, where volunteers help families fill out their FAFSA forms. Our outreach efforts included, for example, classes or lunch hours where seniors were in attendance at Palmetto and Bayshore high schools, a college fair at Palmetto High, an information session at Sacred Heart Church, the Hispanic Festival at Holy Cross Church, an info table at the Remote Area Medical event at MTC, and electronic outreach via our Remind system, which sends text notifications to students who are registered with us. UnidosNow engaged over 1,000 seniors through this outreach. Find pictures of all these events in our Facebook page.

Subsequently, in partnership with our community partners, FAFSA labs were offered at Sarasota Military Academy, North Port, Sarasota, Booker, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch and Bayshore high schools, where trained volunteers assisted approximately 254 families to complete the FAFSA. Our invaluable partners include Talent for Tomorrow in Sarasota County – comprised of United Way SuncoastSarasota Education FoundationGreater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and CareerEdge. – and the Local College Access Network (LCAN) in Manatee County – comprised ofthe Manatee Community FoundationUnited Way of ManateeThe School District of Manateethe Manatee Chamber of Commerce, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Manatee Technical College, Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, and CareerEdge. UnidosNow is a member of both collaboratives.

We believe these partnership efforts are significantly impacting FAFSA completion rates in our area, as evidenced in the below data charts from the US Department of Education for Manatee and Sarasota counties:

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For information on upcoming FAFSA labs or information sessions, click here.

“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.

FLA Scholars Visit Goshen College

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Three of our Future Leaders Academy scholars were recently invited to visit Goshen College in Indiana.

Thanks to the sponsorship of the college and the support of Gilberto Perez, Jr. and Rachel Smucker, our talented students Laura Orjuela, Fany Benitez, and Joana Gonzalez, along with our Director of Education, Hector Tejeda, visited the school in November.

The students truly enjoyed the opportunity and the many different activities and classes they attended. They were also amazed by the hospitality of the people on campus.

“Goshen College gave me the best insight on the benefits of attending a small college,” Laura Orjuela noted.

And Joana Gonzalez stated, “It was a great experience to see how small a college could be and how culture and everyday life in another part of America is different from life in Sarasota.”

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Future Leaders Academy (FLA): Ongoing Parent Engagement

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UnidosNow recently convened a group of parents of our summer FLA scholars who are, now, in their senior year. The goal of the meeting was to provide follow-up and to support their efforts to help their children complete college applications. We were thrilled to learn how engaged the parents are in the process! We are here to offer them additional tools, encouragement, and support, as they work with their children to meet deadlines and benchmarks that will ensure college entrance.

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!

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!

Bayshore High School UnidosNow Club

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This week, officers from the UnidosNow Club at Bayshore High School left Mrs. Platt classroom with enthusiasm and ready to bring new members to their club.

The club is a going to meet on Wednesdays from 2:15 – 3:00 in room 150. This club will promote college preparatory guidance for those that want to achieve a higher education.

Freshmen and Sophomores are encouraged to participate, where they will also go on college tours.

You Can Be The One to Students Like Tea

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Congratulations to Tea Binder who was recently named a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist, which places her in the top 1% of all students in the country taking the 2015 PSAT.

Tea has participated in our Future Leaders Academy for the past two years and aspires to attend a top national university and eventually become a surgeon.

As a semi-finalist, Tea qualifies to compete for National Merit Scholarships to be awarded next spring. Good luck, Tea, we are all cheering for you!

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