UnidosNow had the pleasure of volunteering in the United Way Suncoast Obstacle Course Race on Saturday, February 18th, where people from the community showed their competitive spirit supporting this fantastic organization.
UnidosNow has started a new program in McIntosh Middle School thanks to the support of United Way Suncoast. We will provide middle-to-top performers with the tools they need to start thinking about going to college as they transition to middle school.
We will also offer workshops for students and parents on how to select colleges, learn about financial aid and scholarships, and some other tools to assist them in planning for higher education.
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 Suncoast, Sarasota Education Foundation, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and CareerEdge. – and the Local College Access Network (LCAN) in Manatee County – comprised ofthe Manatee Community Foundation, United Way of Manatee, The School District of Manatee, the 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:
For information on upcoming FAFSA labs or information sessions, click here.
Thanks to the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s 2Gen initiative, UnidosNow and Tuttle Elementary School are partnering to implement an innovative engagement program for parents of Tuttle students. The curriculum, targeting English Learner parents, includes a national parent engagement model, Padres Comprometidos, and ESOL classes.
Tuttle parents are participating in Padres Comprometidos, a field-tested parent engagement program developed by NCLR, which has met with great success throughout the United States, and which UnidosNow has been trained to implement. Its goal is to create a culture where children are expected to graduate from college by receiving support from their parents and community. The program helps parents build relationships with the school and other parents, as well as their own children; it also helps them develop goals for their children, from the early education years through high school, so that they can attend college.
In addition, parents are attending on-site ESOL classes, with the goal of improving English speaking and listening skills. The adult learners all share a common interest in learning English to help their children, to communicate in society (teachers, doctors, shopping), and to improve employment opportunities. Since the classes launched in October, participants have accomplished a strong understanding and pronunciation of the English alphabet, cardinal/ordinal numbers, pronouns, and personal information. But perhaps, most importantly, they are building self-confidence to speak and understand English.
UnidosNow is proud to be one of nine selected winners of the Manatee Millennial Challenge, which was one of the competitions of the 2016 Giving Challenge in September. We are honored and grateful to have been chosen from a pool of 25 great local nonprofits that participated in this new contest. Thanks to the support of the Manatee Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and to the dedicated efforts of our Millennial Volunteer Committee – spearheaded by Juan Arcila – UnidosNow will receive a $5,000 grant.
In addition, we’re thrilled and grateful to have been selected – from among hundreds of applications – as the awardee for Best Social Media Campaign in the category for “Medium Sized Organization.” Thanks to the generous support of the foundations involved in the Giving Challenge, UnidosNow will receive a $1,500 award for this special recognition.
If you’re a senior planning to attend a post-secondary school, it’s important for you and your parents to complete a FAFSA form, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Federal student aid includes Federal Pell Grants, federal student loans, and work-study opportunities. In addition to determining eligibility for federal student aid, many states, private organizations, colleges, and career schools rely on information from the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non federal sources of aid.
There are two major changes to the FAFSA taking effect for the 2017–18 school year, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018:
To help students and parents prepare the form, UnidosNow is partnering with Talent4Tomorrow and the Manatee Education Collaborative to offer workshops at high schools in both Sarasota and Manatee counties, respectively, from October through February. Click here to see the calendar of dates and locations.
We are also recruiting bilingual volunteers to provide one-on-one assistance to students and parents at these workshops. If you are interested in volunteering for one or more of the sessions, please RSVP to Lisbeth Oscuvilca, Lisbeth@UnidosNow.org, for one of the following trainings:
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.
UnidosNow is proud to have received proclamation presentations in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month from our local government offices. Nationally, this observance takes place from September 15 to October 15. This year’s theme, Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future, offers a special opportunity to recognize the contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and to celebrate our heritage and culture!
The Manatee County Commission proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Month for the county at its September 13th meeting and the Manatee County School Board did the same at its September 27th meeting. The Sarasota County Commission will issue its proclamation in October.
Many thanks to our elected officials for celebrating our community’s contributions to the local economy, business, arts, culture, cuisine and more!
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.