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Champions For Learning Hosts 2018 Golden Apple Celebration

On April 16, Champions For Learning hosted the 28th Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. During this event the community honored and thanked the Golden Apple Recipients, Teachers of Distinction, and Collier County Public Schools Teachers of the Year.

Champions For Learning invited each Collier County School to put forward an educator and best practice to be recognized as this year’s Teacher of Distinction, providing the opportunity for every school to be involved. The result was 57 teachers representing 55 of our schools. From this group of talented teachers, the Golden Apple Selection Committee chose five to further highlight their best practices.

During the event, community members were treated to students introducing their teachers and teachers sharing their passion for the profession. Champions For Learning also honored Thomas Riley as the 2018 Heart of the Apple recipient.

All Teachers of Distinction received a $250  award, and the Golden Apple recipients received an additional $500 award thanks to the Mary Ingram Fund of the Columbus Foundation.  Each 2017-18 Golden Apple recipient receives a grant of up to $5,000 from Suncoast Credit Union to build on their best practices.

“At Suncoast Credit Union, we believe that the stronger we make our teachers, the stronger our students will be. For this reason, we create opportunities for educators to share best practices and to grow professionally, “ said Cindy Helton executive director of the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation.  “The Golden Apple Awards enable us to recognized teachers whose dedication and practices stand above the rest. We hope that the grants will inspire them to continue investing in our students and to develop innovative practices.”

The Suncoast Credit Union Foundation is funded through the credit union members’ use of their debit and credit cards. The Suncoast for Schools Rewards Debit Card and VISA Credit Card program automatically generates funds that are dedicated to education and health-related initiatives benefiting children in the local community.

For those who couldn’t attend the event, Champions For Learning invites them to watch the Golden Apple television program, which will be aired on April 22 at 7:00 pm on NBC-2 and rebroadcast multiple times on The Education Channel. To stay connected text APPLE to 52182 for links to videos and photos of the Golden Apple event, tune in to watch reminders and access to fund classroom grants.

Click here to view videos highlighting the best practices of our Teachers of Distinction and Golden Apple recipients.

Presenting Sponsor: Suncoast Credit Union

Champions Level Sponsors: Adams Food, Inc./McDonalds, CenturyLink, Conditioned Air, eBella Magazine, Mary Ingram Fund of the Columbus Foundation, Moorings Park, Naples Daily News, NBC-2, Perna-Rose Foundation for Hope, and Wells Fargo

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Barbara Uible Announced as Take Stock in Children Mentor of the Year

Champions For Learning is proud to announce that Barbara Uible has been named one of Take Stock in Children’s Mentors of the Year in the state of Florida. She was honored on Wednesday, January 10 at the Take Stock in Children Luncheon honoring Leaders for Life Fellows and TSIC Alumni & Mentors of the Year. This was part of the Take Stock in Children Leadership Summit & Day at the Capitol.

Champions For Learning identifies students with economic need, provides them a mentor and a college and career prep program. When the student fulfills their ongoing commitment to meet with the mentor, stay drug and crime free, and maintain their GPA, the student earns a two-year Florida state college scholarship upon high school graduation.

To date, Barbara has mentored two students and is currently mentoring her third student. Through her mentoring she has treated each mentee as family, which has built friendships that have continued beyond high school.  She has also served as a member of the Student Selection Committee for a number of years.

With her demonstration of selflessness and desire to help others succeed, Barbara is truly making a difference by providing consistent support to not only her mentees, but to the Take Stock in Children program.

Susan McManus, President, Champions For Learning, says, “We are proud of Barbara who has impacted many students through her involvement with Champions For Learning. Barbara’s passion to help students succeed is truly inspiring.”

Barbara was honored at the 4th Annual Night of Champions as Champions For Learning’s Mentor of the Year. The event honored community members for their impact on the lives of students through mentoring, leadership, collaboration and community involvement.

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Champions For Learning Announces 2017-2018 Board of Directors

Champions For Learning would like to announce their 2017-2018 Board of Directors. This group of professionals and community leaders are devoted to working diligently to help impact Collier County students and teachers.

“Our Board of Directors consists of individuals who are very committed to impacting students and teachers by enriching the environment for learning,” says Lynn Davidson, Board Chair. “Each board member brings their own expertise and passion to the organization and I am honored to serve among them. These community leaders exemplify the engagement that Champions For Learning needs to continue supporting students and local classrooms.”

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Announcing Tom Riley as 2017-2018 Heart of the Apple Recipient

Champions For Learning is proud to announce that Tom Riley has been named the 2017-2018 Heart of the Apple Award recipient for the significant impact he has made in Collier County. Riley is Founder & Chairman of Thomas Riley Artisans’ Guild – a fine interior woodworking company that has been committed to local youth and education since its inception.

Each year, Champions For Learning awards a Heart of the Apple in recognition of sustained and committed leadership in support of building the culture of learning in our community through the mission of Champions For Learning.

Riley’s commitment to “nothing less than monumental” in every endeavor, includes his dedication to education in the community. He has provided internships and opened his workshop to thousands of students through programs that demonstrate the importance of hard work, respect and passion. Riley has also supported the Golden Apple program by donating his and his team’s time and talent to create the hand-carved lecterns and stage setting that is used at the annual event to this day. Over the years, Riley has contributed the work of his team of artisans to support the Champions For Learning mission.

Susan McManus, President, Champions For Learning, says, “We are proud to honor Tom who has had a lasting commitment to our educators and students. He has shown great support of education through his involvement with Golden Apple. Tom’s passion to help support local teachers and students truly embodies the Heart of the Apple Award.”

Thank you to Tom Riley for helping to connect students to their future.

The Heart of the Apple and the Golden Apple recipients will be honored at the 28th Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner presented by Suncoast Credit Union on April 16, 2018, at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. Opportunities to sponsor a school to attend the event are available. For more information on event sponsorships and ticket sales click here.

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Announcing the 2017-2018 Glass Slipper Recipients

Champions For Learning is proud to announce the 2017-2018 Glass Slipper recipients.  The recipients are Nancy Blackburn, Lynn Davidson, and Anne Fleming.

Each year, the Glass Slipper event is held to honor women leaders for their dedication and service to the children of Collier County. This event and recognition program benefits young ladies who are graduates of Champions For Learning student programs, and helps meet their needs as they currently seek post-secondary education.

Join us in honoring the Glass Slipper recipients at a cocktail reception, which will be held on March 21, 2018 in a custom model residence in Quail West by Stock Signature Homes. There will be heavy hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction to benefit Champions For Learning student scholarships. Tickets for the event are $50.

For tickets please contact Heather Noel at (239) 643-4755 or HNoel@ChampionsForLearning.org.

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Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Teachers of Distinction


We are proud to announce the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program’s 2017-2018 Teachers of Distinction. This year, Hurricane Irma provided an opportunity for each school to bring forward a teacher and best practice to highlight on behalf of their school. From this group of Teachers of Distinction, Champions For Learning’s community-based selection committee will identify five teachers to highlight as Golden Apple recipients. Click here to see the list of Teachers of Distinction.

The Teachers of Distinction and the Golden Apple recipients will be honored at the Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner presented by Suncoast Credit Union on April 16, 2018, at the Naples Grande Beach Resort.

We’d like to thank our presenting sponsor, Suncoast Credit Union and all of the support they provide educators and students.  We would also like to thank additional Golden Apple Champion Level Sponsors:  CenturyLink, Moorings Park, Naples Daily News, NBC-2 Waterman Broadcasting and Perna-Rose Foundation for Hope.

Opportunities to sponsor a school to attend the event are available. For more information on event sponsorships and ticket sales click here.

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Champions For Learning Earns Highest 4-Star Rating From Charity Navigator

Champions For Learning’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.

This is the second consecutive time that Champions For Learning has earned this top distinction.

“Champions For Learning’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds Champions For Learning to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support Champions For Learning.”

“We are extremely proud to be receiving a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator,” says Lynn Davidson, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Our Board of Directors and staff work hard to make sure that 100% of the community contributions go directly to the programs that enrich student learning through educators and ensure students achieve their college and career goals.”

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Attention 11th Graders! Real World Learning Model Application Now Open!

Start planning for your future today! The Real World Learning Model College and Career Prep Program provides weekly support for college access, financial aid instruction, career exploration and readiness, goal-setting and self-advocacy skills for 11th-12th grade students and families.

Students in 11th grade, from public or independent high schools, regardless of income level, are eligible to apply. This program is provided at no costs to students and families thanks to community contributions and a generous grant from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation.

Deadline for the application: October 30, 2017

Click here to download the application.

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Don’t Forget FAFSA is Now Open!

Need help paying for college? Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick. It gives 12th graders and college students access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or technical school. In Florida, colleges will also determine your eligibility for state and school aid. Applying early is the key to ensuring you are eligible for the maximum amount of aid.
The 2018-19  FAFSA is now open! 
For more locations to get free assistance to complete your FAFSA click here.
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Night of Champions Honorees Announced!

We are proud to announce their 2017-18 Night of Champions honorees.

These honorees are being recognized at the Night of Champions event on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. These individuals will be honored for their impact on the lives of students through mentoring, leadership, collaboration and community involvement with educators or students. These honored Champions exemplify what it means to make a commitment to our students and their future.

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