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Volunteer Resources

Because of Our Volunteers

At Champions For Learning, volunteers are the changemakers that fuel the success of the organization. Because of these changemakers, Champions For Learning is able to create life-changing learning experiences for students and educators in Collier County.

Each year, nearly 400 changemakers dedicate thousands of hours in support of Champions For Learning’s mission. These members of our community volunteer their time in many different ways.

More than half of the volunteers at Champions For Learning serve as mentors for our Take Stock in Children program, dedicating countless hours during the student’s high school years. Becoming part of the students’ support system, mentors are excellent listeners and trusted advocates who want to see their mentee succeed and accomplish great things. Because of volunteers who choose to mentor, students’ lives are forever changed.

New this school year, the INCubatoredu entrepreneurship program within Collier County Public Schools is composed of volunteers. Champions For Learning manages the recruitment and stewardship of mentors, coaches, and judges. These volunteers bring real world expertise into the classroom and not only help students grasp business concepts, but also help students hone critical life skills such as public speaking and interviewing. Because of volunteers, students gain confidence and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Hundreds of volunteers serve on our 15 different community-based selection committees at Champions For Learning. Selection committees serve a critical role in the selection of students to access scholarships and programs offered through Champions For Learning. Volunteers review applications and allocate funding for classroom grant as well as serving on  the Golden Apple selection process. This year, a new selection committee was formed to distribute much-needed hurricane relief funds to Collier County educators and staff.

Often unseen but no less valued, are the volunteers that help with clerical tasks and event details. From assembling event invitations, to stuffing nametags or manning the reception area these detail oriented volunteers make our organization shine.

It is clear that without volunteers who serve as changemakers, Champions For Learning would not be able to have as wide of an impact on education in Collier County. As volunteers are celebrated across the community, Champions For Learning honors our changemakers who give willingly of their time to help better our community through education.

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Introduction to Innovation

For years Champions For Learning has been involved in preparing students for their future learning and career goals, utilizing the lab space within our office building to not only inspire students’ ambitions but to help them reach their goals.

Longtime Champion, Frank Daveler, was always grateful to facilitate students’ ambitions as they pursued their own success through opportunities otherwise inaccessible. Because of the $500,000 contribution from Frank and his late wife, Ellen, Champions For Learning was able to launch the Frank and Ellen Daveler Center for Innovation in January, allowing the lab space to be reimagined, moving the new Center into the future.

Frank & Ellen Innovation Center Classroom | Champions for Learning   Frank & Ellen Innovation Center Classroom | Champions for Learning   Frank & Ellen Innovation Center Classroom with People | Champions for Learning

Scheduled for completion in June 2021, the new Center will expand the capacity and opportunities for Champions For Learning to support collaboration and innovation with teachers, students, parents, volunteers and community partners. As you look at the renderings of the reimagined Center, you will see that the strongest theme is collaboration. The spaces are meant to be rearranged to become functional lab spaces where students, teachers, and community partners can come together to discuss and innovate.

We believe the Davelers would have enjoyed seeing students, teachers and community members engaged in this way in this vibrant new space, creating opportunities for our community to connect with students as they prepare for their futures and to inspire solutions to complex challenges.

We are excited about the opportunity to engage teachers, students, parents and the community through the Center for Innovation and know that you are excited to move into the future with us!

Champions For Learning is in need of funding for furniture and materials for student modular workstations and conference rooms for the Frank & Ellen Daveler Center For Innovation. Contributions to the Innovation Center will be matched dollar for dollar.

Join in. Your gift to Champions For Learning inspires our community to continue to work together. No gift is too small–your gift can be combined with others to support life-changing learning experiences.

Should you like to make a donation, please visit us here online. Your gift begins making an impact immediately.

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Top Five Reasons for Becoming a Mentor

Have you ever considered being a mentor but uncertain about getting involved?

Champions For Learning offers Collier County community members the chance to mentor high-achieving, low-income public school students who show the potential to go to college. Upon successful completion of the program, each student mentee earns a two-year state college scholarship from Champions For Learning.

Here are five reasons why we ask you to look beyond the obstacles that may have held you back in the past and to take the next steps in becoming a mentor for a local student today:

Reason #1: Mentors change lives. 

Just think about the impact you can have on a young person’s life!

Do you remember a teacher, a coach or a friend who said or did something that changed the trajectory of your life?  This is your chance to do that for someone else.  Not every mentoring partnership is life changing but every mentor has the potential to instigate change.

You may not think that you have much to offer but engaging with someone who has had an entirely different background can be immensely rewarding for both of you.

Many young people in our community don’t see attending college as a possibility, but you can help change this. Give a new generation the encouragement and support that will help them make the most of their potential.

Seeing a student developing their life skills firsthand and, knowing that you have played a part in this, can be incredibly satisfying.

Reason #2: Mentoring allows you to gain new perspectives. 

Mentoring is a unique opportunity to step outside your normal circle of friends and family to gain an intimate understanding of how the world looks through someone else’s eyes.  New perspectives lead to fresh ideas, and who knows where fresh ideas could lead you?

Mentoring gives you the chance to engage with someone younger than you, who may see things very differently than you. In a changing world, it can be very rewarding to understand how those who have come after you think, and also how they view your own generation.

Mentoring a young student also helps bridge the generation gap, as each generation can come to understand the other’s motivations, goals, and attitudes.  In fact, we’ve found that at some point during most mentoring experiences, it begins to feel like there’s no gap at all.

Reason #3: Mentoring feels good. 

We guarantee you that once you become a mentor the “feel good” factor will take hold.  There is little more rewarding than knowing you are making a difference in someone else’s life.

Mentors have the opportunity to build up someone’s skill set and confidence – and that’s a relationship not easily forgotten.  Not to mention, the idea of enlightening another person’s life will always add additional happiness to yours.

Mentoring is more than just a fancy word for supporting someone else. It is a commitment of time and effort that is incredibly rewarding, providing a sense of fulfillment that extends far beyond your mentor/mentee sessions. It is knowing that you have made an impact on your mentee while at the same time undertaking some valuable self-reflection, which can only have positive outcomes for your own life.

Reason #4: Mentors become part of the Champions For Learning family.

Champions For Learning offers a connection to our community that many often feel is missing. It’s a connection to the needs that exist in Collier County, to like-minded volunteers and mentors, to the teachers, students and families the community served through Champions For Learning, and to the Champions For Learning staff.

When you offer your time to mentor, you not only make a difference in the life of your mentee and in the future of our community, you also become a part of the Champions For Learning family. A family that is dedicated to creating life-changing learning experiences for students, but also a family that is very much dedicated to one another.

Reason #5: Mentors leave a legacy.

Most of us long for a legacy, some stake in the future that says, “I was here.” What better legacy than to be a part of shaping the future of our community?

Mentors can have a lasting impact on their mentees. This is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a mentor… just knowing the small contribution you have made to the life of a young person can be incredibly rewarding.

Remember how lost and confused you sometimes felt during high school?  By acting as a mentor, you can help make challenges and transitions easier for your mentee. And when you reflect on what you have given to your mentee, you receive a profound sense of legacy and gratification.

Q & A with Kristin Peras, Director of Community Engagement, Champions For Learning

Kristen Peras, Champions For Learning

What’s the purpose of the mentoring program?

The mentoring programs offered through Champions For Learning break the cycle of poverty by identifying high-achieving, low-income public school students who show the potential to go to college and providing them with holistic support. More than 200 high school students are active in the program each year.

What do students need to do to qualify for the program? And what kind of assistance do they receive?

Students entering 9th Grade with economic need, good grades, behavior and attendance in school, and a desire to achieve post-secondary goals may apply to the program. The program offers students a caring volunteer mentor, a professional College Success Coach, and College Readiness support.

What is the end goal of the program?

Upon successful completion of the program, students earn a two-year state college scholarship from Champions For Learning. To date, Champions For Learning has impacted over 32,000 students.

Do mentors need special experience or skills?

No experience is required, and training is provided. Mentors are trusted advocates and excellent listeners, helping the student reach their goals, develop life skills, learn to advocate for themselves, and ensure they take advantage of resources and opportunities available — mentors are not a tutors or counselors.

How long of a commitment do mentors need to make?

Mentors are encouraged to continue to mentor the same student through his/her high school graduation to continue building the relationship with the mentee and their family.

How often do mentors meet with their mentees?

Mentors meet with mentees face-to-face or through virtual sessions during the academic year, sessions are typically held bi-weekly.

Can mentors meet with mentees virtually?

Virtual Mentoring via Zoom is offered to connect with mentees in supervised settings during lunch and after school hours. Virtual mentoring allows for seasonal mentors to be engaged all year and working mentors to have a session from the office.

Are there any requirements for mentors?

All mentors must undergo a screening process through Collier County Public Schools. Once screened, Champions For Learning matches you to a student and coordinates an introduction with your mentee.

Do mentors receive guidance from Champions for Learning?

Mentors receive a wealth of resources and training opportunities from Champions For Learning to ensure the success of the program and relationship and to help inform the focus of your meetings, including direct support from Champions For Learning staff and seasoned mentor liaisons, as well as online resources and webinars. If at any point a mentor has a concern about their mentee, they are encouraged to notify the Champions For Learning team to help resolve the issue.

What should we do if we’re ready to take the next step?

Contact me – Kristin Peras, Director of Community Engagement – at 239-643-4755 or KPeras@ChampionsForLearning.org. Or visit our website — ChampionsForLearning.org/LearnMore — to join us at our next All About Mentoring informational session.

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Recap of Coffee & Conversations Fall Sessions

New this year is Coffee & Conversations, a monthly series open to the public, with the goal of sharing and discussing various educational topics as it pertains to our community. This is also a great chance to connect with current volunteers, mentors, and staff.

Here’s a recap of the fall topics and discussion:


Mentor Badges, CCPS School Entry Changes, and Student Benchmarks

This early-bird session reviewed the new security measures of Collier County Public Schools as part of the district’s “Keep Collier Safe” efforts. CCPS has added various layers of security to better protect our students. Here’s what you should be aware of:

  • If you have visited a school this year, you likely experienced the new school entry procedure. You can read more about the change here, or watch this video for a demonstration of how to properly enter a school.
  • The district has asked that all mentors receive badges. If you are a current mentor have not been issued a badge, please contact Rachel Welch for instructions on how to obtain one.
  • Backpacks and large bags are no longer allowed at CCPS athletic events. Click here for more information on appropriate bag guidelines.

We also shared our Student Benchmark Checklists, a resource we developed to help parents and mentors ensure their student is on the right path to personal and professional success. Click to download the checklist.

8th grade

9th Grade

10th Grade

11th Grade

12th Grade


CCPS Emergency Drills with Guest Speaker

Our October session was a continuation of August’s topic, featuring Tim Kutz, Head of Security at Collier County Public Schools. Our topic was a heavy one – emergency drills on campus, including active shooter situations:

  • Click here for tips on how to talk to your student about violence.
  • CCPS is working to develop resources for the community so anyone who visits a school can be informed of the drills and procedures that may occur. We will update you once these materials are released.


CCPS Social and Emotional Learning with Guest Speakers

In November, we were joined by Caroline Brennan and Dr. Heather McElroy of Collier County Public Schools. They walked us through the importance of Social and Emotional Learning, as well as the top five priorities to address the growing need for student mental health support within the schools. Learn more about the five priorities by watching this video.

The district has developed materials to help parents better understand and become advocates for Social and Emotional Learning. These same resources are available to you:

Interested in attending?

Coffee & Conversations will return on January 16 and 17, where we’ll discuss financial aid opportunities for students. Please note the new format – our topic will be introduced at 8:30am, with discussion and conversation to follow until 9:30am. Attendees are encouraged to stay and network once our formal conversation concludes.

Whether you’re a parent/grandparent with a child approaching college, a mentor looking, a volunteer interested in helping students complete the FAFSA, or simply someone who would like to become more knowledgeable about financial aid, we invite you to join us! Click here to reserve your spot.

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