(239) 643-4755
info@championsforlearning.org

News

Bikes for Tykes Provides for Recent Champions For Learning Graduates

Recent Champions For Learning graduates will not have to worry about how they will get around their college campus in the fall thanks to Bikes for Tykes. The organization provided over 30 refurbished bikes for recent graduates of Champions For Learning’s scholarship and mentoring program on Friday.

Bikes have become a necessity for most college students in Florida. With college campuses being so wide-spread, having a way of transportation is crucial. Many students will not have a car while in college, making a bike their only form of transportation.

“Being able to transport myself from class to class every morning is extremely important, especially so I’m not late,” said Isabella Viquez, Champions For Learning 2022 graduate. “I currently don’t have a car or anything and I am moving to a different city away from family. So it’s really important to be able to transport myself around the cities and be able to know exactly it is where I am living and the area around me.”

For many soon-to-be college students without a car, their next and only option would be to walk. When asked what his backup plan would be if he did not receive a bike today, Manuel Castro, Champions For Learning 2022 graduate, said, “I probably would’ve walked for my first semester which is pretty far. My business class is almost 20 minutes away from my dorm.”

This is the second year Bikes for Tykes has partnered with Champions For Learning to give away bikes to high school graduates.  Bikes for Tykes has been busy collecting used bikes, refurbishing them and then storing those bikes for students.

“We work very closely with Champions For Learning to see how many they need. How many are boys and how many are girls. Then we go back to see what we have in stock. As we get them in, we set them aside,” said John Whipple, director at Bikes for Tykes.

Whipple says on top of giving away bikes today, he was also able to teach some students how to ride a bike.

“It’s one thing to work in the shop and fix the tires and fix the various things that go wrong with a bike, but to be here and provide that bike that you fixed and see that smile on their face. It is just amazing,” Dave Pascale, Vice President, Bikes for Tykes.

Bikes for Tykes also provided helmets for every student who received a bike today. In order to do provide helmets, the Bikes for Tykes staff became certified to fit students for the correct helmet.

Champions works hard to always support the success of our students and knows that these new bikes will be an essential piece of their college success.

Read more

Kendra Scott Gives Back to Champions For Learning

The popular and adored jewelry store, Kendra Scott, is supporting teachers and students within Collier County through a special event benefitting Champions For Learning.

Saturday, June 25th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 20% of the proceeds made at the Kendra Scott store located at Waterside Shops will go towards supporting Champions For Learning.

This initiative is part of the Kendra Gives Back program. Taking the fashion world by storm, Kendra Scott uses her fame and fortune for a good cause as much as she can. The program allows community members to host in-store events for causes and organizations that work to improve health & wellness, education & entrepreneurship, and empowerment.

In addition to the in-store event, Kendra Scott Gives Back will also take place online.

Anytime from June 25th-June26th, when you purchase from the Kendra Scott website using code GIVEBACK-CBAOJ 20% of your purchase will go towards student and educator programs at Champions For Learning.

This is a great way to purchase some beautiful items for yourself and others for a great cause.

Support Champions For Learning at the Kendra Gives Back event, we hope to see you on Saturday, June 25th. Kendra Scott is located at Waterside Shops, 5485 Tamiami Trail, between Sunglass Hut and White House/Black Market.

 

 

Read more

With Gratitude: Alan Richard Korest Sr.

Our entire community is so grateful for having had Alan Korest as a champion for teachers, children, and their learning in Collier County.

His unwavering curiosity fueled his limitless desire to learn and inspired him to set that example for generations of children and families who will thrive into the future.

Alan’s legacy of leadership around building a culture rooted in learning was recognized in 2013-14 when he became a Heart of the Apple recipient through Champions For Learning.

Click here to read his full obituary and contributions of a life well-lived.

Read more

Highlands Elementary Incorporates Fun Ways to Learn Through a Classroom Grant

Highlands Elementary School’s science teacher Mara Shaffer recognized the learning approach her students needed and this past July, applied for a Champions For Learning Classroom Grant. Shaffer wanted a way to “incorporate fun, instructional videos throughout the curriculum” and requested a one-year subscription service from Brain Pop and Flocabulary for her curriculum.

As students continue to learn through tablets and other devices, teachers are turning toward supplemental instruction videos which helps visual learners engage in a learning approach that benefits them.

Beverly Feagin, a committed member of our Champions community, funded this grant and supported Shaffer’s request. “Giving to Classroom Grants is a wonderful way to show appreciation to our teachers and to help them create innovative learning experiences. My family was a big supporter of education and I can’t think of a better way to carry on that legacy. It’s a wonderful feeling being able to contribute in any way possible,” said Feagin.

These services are professional educational websites that provide informational videos for students K-12 to help them learn and memorize classroom content. Shaffer wanted to benefit her classes and knew these videos would allow her students to “be more engaged throughout the lesson and will use the mnemonic strategy to remember key concepts being taught across the curriculum”.

The subscriptions purchased through the grant were used between multiple classes covering language arts, science, and social studies lessons. Because of this Classroom Grant, elementary students were able to learn in a fun and interactive way to help them remember class material. This is just one example of how a Classroom Grant can impact students in Collier County.

Collier County teachers! The classroom grants portal is now open for submissions. You can apply for a grant here.

All grants will be made public for community funding starting on July 19th.

In the meantime, support classroom grants in Collier County by purchasing a Support Education license plate. When a Florida resident purchases or renews their Support Education specialty tag, $20 goes directly back to support schools, teachers and students in the county where the tag is registered.  In Collier County, Champions For Learning, The Education Foundation of Collier County, invests 100% of those proceeds into classroom grants.

Lindsay Lydon is a graduate of Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children mentoring and scholarship program. She is currently a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University studying marketing and advertising and is interning with Champions For Learning this summer.

Read more

Lely High School’s Theatre Program Returns Thanks to a Classroom Grant

After a 15 year pause for Lely High School’s theatre program, they recently performed Mother Goosed, made possible in part by the investment of the Michael J. Searcy Family through the Champions For Learning Classroom Grant program.

Dr. Cynthia Gomez teaches Language Arts and Theatre at Lely High and wanted her students to be able to experience theatre in an authentic and memorable way. The $500 donation enabled Dr. Gomez to purchase supplies for her students, including stage materials, make-up kits, and scripts, allowing students to organize, plan, and produce a performance that will not be soon forgotten.

The materials purchased allowed the students to experience a true performance, including set designs, make-up, and costuming.  Gomez says hosting and performing the show has “reignited a passion for theatre among our students”.

“These students will learn things that will push them out of their comfort zones and stretch their character. They will learn that the sky is the limit, and with the right words- they can become whomever they choose to be,” shared Gomez.

Our Collier County community has the opportunity to change the lives of students in many ways. The students and staff at Lely High will never forget the impact the Searcy family’s donation had on them. This one donation has changed the lives of many students. Champions For Learning believes in the power of education and is proud to see the impact one person can make for a whole community.

Collier County teachers! The classroom grants portal is now open for submissions. You can apply for a grant here.

All grants will be made public for community based funding for the 2022-2023 school year starting on July 19th.

In the meantime, support classroom grants in Collier County by purchasing a Support Education license plate. When a Florida resident purchases or renews their Support Education specialty tag, $20 goes directly back to support schools, teachers and students in the county where the tag is registered.  In Collier County, Champions For Learning, The Education Foundation of Collier County, invests 100% of those proceeds into classroom grants.

Lindsay Lydon is a graduate of Champions For Learning’s Take Stock in Children mentoring and scholarship program. She is currently a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University studying marketing and advertising and is interning with Champions For Learning this summer.

Read more

A Year of Student Success Thanks to Our Donors

As another school year comes to an end, Champions For Learning is in awe of all the amazing things our students have accomplished. However, none of these accomplishments would have been possible if it weren’t for the generosity and support of our donors and sponsors.

This year alone, 47 eighth graders were inducted into our four-year mentoring program, Take Stock In Children. Graduates of this program earn a 2-year scholarship to a Florida state college or technical school.

“There is so much value in Champions For Learning and Take Stock In Children that got me through a lot of struggles,” said Watson Marcelin, a graduate from the Champions For Learning Take Stock In Children. “The program got me prepared in every facet to make sure I was ready for college, and then didn’t let go of my hand but made sure I completed college successfully.”

Champions For Learning is also celebrating the graduation of 82 seniors from this years College & Career Prep program. This program provides in-person support for students in financial aid, career exploration, goal-setting and self-advocacy. Collectively, these 82 students received over 250 college acceptances!

“Being a first-generation student was difficult enough but figuring out everything I needed to know to prepare for college seemed impossible without the Champions For Learning community,” said Brianna Barrantes, a 2022 graduate from Champions For Learning’s College & Career Prep program. “Through Champions, I learned to make a resume, apply for a job, study for the SAT, write a personal statement, apply for financial aid, and so much more.”

It is because people within our Collier County community believe in the importance of education, that many students’ lives are forever changed.

Help every student develop a goal for their future, an educational pathway and a financial plan to accomplish their dreams!

You can give to Champions For Learning in various ways. Click here to learn more and to give.

Read more

Attention Collier County graduating seniors!

Champions For Learning has one-year JumpStart scholarships available! As soon as possible, seniors must complete their applications for a scholarship that Lory Garraux said will allow her to reduce her financial burden of obtaining a college education so she can focus on her studies.

“My family has always supported my efforts and have worked hard to provide for me but it is a struggle to afford paying for college. That is why I am taking the initiative of applying for this scholarship!” Garraux said.

The JumpStart scholarship provides eligible students with 30 credit hours at a Florida technical program, state college or state university for one year. In addition to helping with the rising cost of tuition, recipients receive support for financial aid, life skills and career exploration through three virtual workshops.

Garraux said, “Scholarship opportunities are a key finding that can create a strong foundation for supporting students such as myself in their success. That is why it is so essential to apply for scholarships such as the JumpStart scholarship.” By being able to lower the costs of college and the number of hours she would need to work during school, Lory plans to earn her undergraduate degree in health sciences and pursue a career in nursing. Eventually she plans to apply to a physician’s assistant program. By applying for the JumpStart scholarship, she will reduce the financial burden of her education.

Applications for JumpStart are now open. To find the eligibility requirements and to apply visit www.championsforlearning.org/jumpstart.

Read more

President/CEO Susan McManus Leaving Champions For Learning to Pursue Educational Goals

Champions For Learning has shared that Susan McManus, President/CEO, will be leaving her role at the end of May and will be pursuing her own educational goals.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments that our community has made over the past 32 years to support and encourage high-quality education for our children,” states McManus.  “I am a Champion for life and will continue to support the mission and vision of this organization.”

“It has been my honor to have worked with so many educators, students, parents, donors and volunteers who care so deeply about our shared vision of a community that is 100% engaged in student success,” she reflected.

McManus served on the founding board of the organization in 1990  and became the staff executive leader of Champions For Learning (The Education Foundation of Collier County) in 1993.   Through her leadership, Champions For Learning and its impact for students, families and educators has grown exponentially.

McManus has been inspired by late entrepreneur, Frank Daveler, as she looks ahead to her next chapter.  “Frank helped me see the importance of keeping an entrepreneurial mindset both personally and in my work,” she shared.  “I am eager to pursue my own educational goals.”

The Board of Directors has hired Dr. Terrie Mitev as Acting CEO, a well-respected and accomplished former educator, principal and administrator in Collier County. This interim role will steward Champions during the search process for permanent executive leadership.

Read more

Champions For Learning Unveils New Volunteer Award

During the recent Countdown to Cap & Gown celebration, Champions For Learning unveiled a new volunteer recognition award, the Karen Harman Excellence in Volunteering Award.

Karen Harman was a long-time volunteer at Champions For Learning. For over 10 years she dedicated her time to helping students and teachers alike. “Her passion was volunteering in education, and you would never see a brighter smile than Karen’s when she was volunteering with us” said Susan McManus, CEO of Champions For Learning.

Inspired by his late wife, her husband Ray Harman chose to honor her memory through a legacy gift that will forever fund volunteer recognition. The first recipients of this award included volunteers Dottie and John Whipple. Over the last six years, Dottie and John have served in 126 volunteer roles at Champions For Learning. They have also dedicated their time to mentoring 10 students. The time and talent Dottie and John give to Champions For Learning is invaluable.

“Being a mentor and being involved with Champions For Learning has been a wonderful experience for John and me,” said Dottie. “Working with mentees and helping them navigate through high school and beyond has brought us so much joy and inspiration. John and I are so proud and honored to be the first recipients of this award.”

Five students were also recognized for the time they have donated to Champions For Learning success. They each completed over 200 hours of service. Liset H., Grace S., Yanet H., Prisca P., and Daniel C. each received the $500 Karen Harman Excellence in Volunteering Award scholarship.

Congratulations to our inaugural recipients and we look forward to awarding this meaningful recognition for years to come.

Read more

Champions For Learning Celebrates the Class of 2022

Champions For Learning celebrated the Class of 2022 at the Countdown to Cap & Gown event on Wednesday May, 4th at Artis Naples and presented by BMO Wealth Management.

The eighty-three graduates completed two years of College and Career Prep and many will be receiving scholarships through Champions For Learning’s Take Stock In Children Program, In-Demand Career Scholars and Project STARS Program. The graduating class of 2022 has faced numerous challenges over the last two years that they have had to navigate. As Michael Rubenstein, Vice President and Senior Fiduciary Advisor at BMO Wealth Management told the students, “The skills you have learned through these challenges will help you as you continue your education and enter the workforce.”

Collectively, the 83 Champions For Learning graduates have thus far accomplished the following:

  • 479 applications for college or technical programs
  • Received 245 college acceptances
  • Earned 52 industry certificates

Graduate Brianna Barrantes made remarks on behalf of the class. She credited Champions For Learning with teaching her how to go through the college application process, make a resume, apply for a job and apply for financial aid. All of which she wouldn’t have known how to do without the guidance of Champions For Learning as her family never went through the process themselves. “Being a first-generation student was difficult enough but figuring out everything I needed to know to prepare for college seemed impossible without the Champions For Learning Community.”

Champions For Learning is so proud of how hard the Class of 2022 has worked over the last two years and their dedication to their education. Countdown to Cap & Gown was a wonderful evening celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2022!

Read more