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Class of 2020

The Champions For Learning Class of 2020 has continued to reach their goals despite COVID-19. In the face of adversity, not a single senior has fallen off track and all have continued with their post-secondary education plans.

The class of 2020 contributed over 12,610 volunteer service hours in our community. Students continued to help the community during COVID-19 virtually; students in the senior class had the opportunity to create videos messages for their teachers, record themselves reading books for younger students, and writing letters to local nursing home residents.

The class of 2020 received more than 289 college acceptances along with more than $3,885,082 in scholarship offers not including federal and state aid or Take Stock in Children scholarships.

Students applied to various scholarships and received more than 108 scholarships altogether. Some of the scholarships students received include the Naples Daily News Journalism Scholarship, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Scholarship, Francis Paulson Memorial Scholarship, and the Medical Alliance Scholarship.

Through Champions For Learning students in the Class of 2020 received awards that exhibited the students’ accomplishments ranging from community service to perfect attendance.

Eighteen students received the Never Give Up Award – Whether completing a multitude of college applications, and scholarship applications, or always actively participating in lab sessions, these students took every opportunity to make it count!

Twelve students received the Outstanding Community Service Award – For exceeding the minimum and individually providing more than 300 hours of time to give back to Collier County. Students like Mayte H, Brissa R, Emisael V, and Gabriela M, all surpassed more than 560 hours of community service!

Ten students received the Above and Beyond Award – Regardless of the request, these students were regular faces around the office or at events, volunteering many hours back to Champions For Learning.

Twenty-seven students received the “Perfect” Attendance Award – Having missed one or fewer weekly lab sessions in their Junior and Senior year, combined.

The Class of 2020 has gone above and beyond and despite challenges, they have become Champions for our community who have uplifted us by continuing to reach their goals! To view our senior special in celebration of the Class of 2020 visit: https://championsforlearning.org/what-we-do/for-students-families/



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Alumnus Update: Isis

Isis’s senior year at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School ended a little differently with COVID-19 changing the way that we socialize and communicate, but that did not stop Isis from reaching her goals.

“You have to look at the positive in every situation, even though my senior year may have ended differently, I still graduated from high school and doing school online allowed me to be with my family,” said Isis.

Although she did not get to walk across the stage to receive her high school diploma Isis said, “I’m proud of my community for celebrating the seniors this year and having a virtual graduation was very special, I’ll always have the video to look back on!”

Isis is majoring in Financial Management and has already started her first semester with Florida State University virtually, and will be heading to live on campus in August.

Isis wasn’t always so sure that college could be a possibility for her. She is the first in her family to attend college and didn’t know what resources were available for her, or if she could even afford to go to college.

In her junior year of high school, she applied to the College and Career Prep Program at Champions For Learning, with the help of her counselor. “Champions For Learning provided me with resources I never knew existed and every question that I had they had the answer,” said Isis.

“I learned how to plan financially for college, by applying for scholarships and filling out the FAFSA, the program made the possibility of going to college a reality,” said Isis.

Isis is looking forward to getting involved on campus and becoming part of her campus community by joining organizations like Women in Business. She also plans on getting involved in the community by interning in local non-profits.

“Through Champions For Learning my community made a huge impact in my life and I want to one day make a difference in the lives of others,” said Isis.




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Virtual Rising Senior Workshops


Champions For Learning Invites Class of 2021 to attend Virtual Rising Senior Workshops

Registration is open for the Class of 2021 to join in for Champions For Learning’s Virtual Rising Senior Workshops.

As part of an ongoing goal to ensure all Collier County students are equipped and prepared for their future learning and career goals, Champions For Learning offers a variety of community-based college and career readiness resources to the entire community in support of our collective goals through Future Ready Collier.

This series of Rising Senior Workshops are provided at no cost to students and families thanks to the generous support of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Naples Children & Education Foundation, Naples Daily News, and the School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program through the State of Florida and Consortium of Florida Education Foundations. Collier County rising seniors (Class of 2021) and their parents will receive information by local experts about the college application process, financial aid, and scholarship resources to help prepare them for post high school education.

All sessions will be held virtually, pre-registration is required.  To register for one or more of the workshops visit ChampionsForLearning.org/Resources. Each webinar will be recorded and will be available on-demand for those unable to attend.

The dates and descriptions of the workshops are listed below.

  • Application Process

This workshop is designed to demystify the college admissions process.  Topics covered will include admissions requirements and deadlines (with a focus on in-state institutions), deciding which schools to apply to, tips and resources to complete applications, and what happens after the application is submitted.

  • July 22, 2020: 9 am – 10:30 am
  • August 5, 2020: 6 pm – 7:30 pm


  • Scholarships

This workshop is designed to give students and parents a strong foundation for applying for scholarships.  We will guide families through the community scholarship application process using the Scholarship Connector.  Students and families will also learn about Florida Bright Futures and receive resources to aid them in the scholarship application process.

  • August 6, 2020: 9 am – 10:30 am
  • August 20, 2020: 6 pm – 7:30 pm


  • Financial Aid Process

This workshop is designed to walk students and families through the financial aid process.  Topics covered will include cost of college (with a focus on in-state institutions), types of financial aid, the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA), Florida state aid, institutional aid, and resource guides designed to make the financial aid process easier. 

  • July 27, 2020: 9 am – 10:30 am
  • August 10, 2020: 6 pm – 7:30 pm
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Suncoast Scholarship Recipients Announced

Champions For Learning in partnership with The Suncoast Credit Union Foundation is pleased to announce that five students in Collier County have each been awarded a $2,000 college scholarship. In total, Suncoast Federal Credit Union has awarded $116,000 in scholarships to 58 high school seniors within their 21 county service area this year.

The scholarship recipients in Collier County  are:  Yesenia Avila (Lorenzo Walker Technical High School), Sandra Gregorio-Matias (Immokalee High School), Natalia Maldonado (Gulf Coast High School), Bryan Perez (Golden Gate High School), and Cindy Velasquez (Immokalee High School.)

“We believe the best way we can build better communities is by investing in education and health-related initiatives for children,” said Cindy Helton, Executive Director of the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation. “Through the Suncoast Credit Union Scholars program, we have the opportunity to invest in individual human potential, which is particularly rewarding.”

This year’s Suncoast Credit Union Scholars program represents a continued philosophy of the foundation to support education initiatives and the well-being and potential of children.  Since its inception in 1990, the Foundation has contributed more than $22 million including more than 600 student scholarships valued at nearly $1 million.

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Reflecting On My First Year Of College

College can be very intimidating especially for a first-generation college student. One of the first obstacles I encountered was orientation and registering for classes. I attended the second to last orientation, but to my surprise, I was still able to pick all the classes I wanted with no problems. I was prepared for the class selection process from being a dual enrollment student at Florida Southwestern prior to going to Florida International University. I was grateful for the time management and organizational skills that Champions for Learning helped me build to create the perfect schedule for me.

The next obstacle was housing. Champions for Learning made sure everyone was on top of their deadlines and requirements, so I was online selecting my room the moment it opened. I selected a room located on the second floor which meant the elevator ride would be quick and I could take the stairs if I did not want to wait. My room was also the closest to the communal kitchen and it was the best room on the whole floor besides the Residents Assistants.

Another challenge I faced during my first year was making friends, it was very difficult to get out and meet new people. It is challenging to find like-minded people as well as create meaningful friendships during such a busy time in life. But as I progress in my studies, I’ll continue meeting more new people.

The last major obstacle I faced this year was finding out my financial aid account had an error that caused me to have an unexpected balance. When I had heard this, I had no idea what it meant or that it was even possible. I had carefully budgeted my four years of college so that I knew down to the penny what was being covered. Thankfully, I had Champions for Learning just a phone call away to help me figure out what was going on. After all that panic the school agreed there was an error which was corrected, and I did not have to pay an unexpected charge.

There will always be unexpected obstacles looking to slow you down, but I am grateful that I have Champions for Learning always there to help me overcome them. The program taught me how to grow as a student and as a professional. The skills I learned such as writing a professional email or how to find help on campus I use everyday and I will continue to use them throughout my career. I feel as though I am always one step ahead and I have been gifted with valuable knowledge that I can share with not only my peers but with incoming college students who did not have the same opportunities I had.

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Adapting As Volunteers

Champions For Learning is proud of all of the students, teachers and volunteers who continue to be Champions for our community. During this time volunteers have adapted and continue to share their gift of time with our students, helping them to stay focused on their goals.

Volunteers have been active participants virtually in our weekly programming for our students. As you will see in these examples, our volunteers are modeling adaptability and versatility for our students.

Volunteer Frank Blod has traditionally led student workshops on building resumes; this spring the workshop will look a little different. Blod will be leading a virtual training workshop for 20+ volunteers who will learn how to provide feedback virtually to students on ways to enhance the initial draft of their resume. Going virtual has allowed more volunteers to be able to participate in the student resume workshop!

Another example of this is with volunteer, Jesse Roberts, M.D. who has led a workshop for our 8th – 12th grade students who are interested in Healthcare professions. Joining him was Todd Lyon, Director of Talent Management from NCH hospital. They shared the various career options available in healthcare and the different paths and degrees necessary to get there. More than 25 students participated in this session.

“it’s important to always remember gratitude. When you are a doctor, the person who cleans a patient’s room and gets it ready for the next person, it equally as critical to patient care, so you must always remember to say thank you,” said Roberts during his presentation.
Finally, volunteer Larry Kirschner was able to adapt a lab session originally intended for Seniors on Financial Literacy to become virtual. With this opportunity, both Seniors and Juniors from our program were able to join.

“When you are my age, I can assure you, you’ll look back at your 17-year-old self and you’ll either say I’m really glad I took the time to understand this, or you’ll kick yourself for having not thought about it enough. You are the ones who will benefit from understanding this, or pay the consequences for not,” said Kirschner during his presentation to students.

The students learned an introduction to interest rates, credit, and how to make wise financial decisions. Kirschner even developed an online soccer game to allow the students to answer quiz-style questions at the end of the presentation.
Although volunteers are not able to physically meet with students, our volunteers have been able to continue to support and engage students in our program by going virtual! We are so thankful for all of our volunteers.

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10th Graders: Join the Champions College and Career Prep Program

Champions For Learning Opens Applications for 10th Grade Students for College & Career Prep Program

Champions For Learning would like to encourage students in 10th grade from public or independent high schools in Collier County, to apply for the Champions For Learning College and Career Preparation Program. This program is provided at no cost to students and families thanks to the generous support of many donors including the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Naples Children and Education Foundation, Suncoast Credit Union, and the School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program through the State of Florida and Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.
Students are provided with:

• College and career preparation program in Champions For Learning on-site lab (Summer of 2020 through 2022)
• Family workshops on college processes such as applications, financial aid and college planning
• Naviance, a web-based tool that enables students to stay on track with college access tasks as well as ACT and SAT test preparation
Program Eligibility:
• Current 10th grade student in a public or independent school in Collier County (and resident of Collier County)
• Minimum 2.5 unweighted GPA
• Must satisfy credit requirements to be on pace to graduate in spring of 2022
• Must have good attendance
• Exhibit good behavior in and out of school
• Student must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or an eligible non-citizen
• Meet the program income eligibility: Eligibility is limited to households with a combined adjusted gross income for tax filers and earned income for those not required to file a federal tax return of less than $120, 347. 2018 tax return accepted.

Applications accepted and reviewed on a rolling bases, until the class is full. The earlier you apply, the greater the potential that space remains available in the program.

Click here to apply!

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Congratulations Champions For Learning Class of 2020

Congratulations Seniors for all of your hard work and commitment as part of the Champions For Learning College and Career Preparation Program! We are so proud of all of your accomplishments. We thank the Seniors for their dedication and hard work and for being true champions!


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Inspired By Our Students

 Our community is proud of all of our students. During this time students have shown how quickly they can adapt to their new learning environment.

Students are attending their e- learning classrooms and are participating in their virtual labs through Champions For Learning. 12th grade virtual labs include college readiness, college cooking hacks, giving thanks, and decision day celebration. We are grateful for our students and the leadership that they have demonstrated.

Our students have continued to reach their goals, our 91 12th grade students to date have been accepted into 263 college and universities and have earned 71 scholarships totaling $3,508,332.

During this time our students have stayed flexible and have already shown how they are grateful in many ways.

“Doing work at home has made me more accountable and more independent.” – Ruby
“I appreciate my teachers being understanding and responding as fast as they can to us students!” – Isis
“ I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family during this time.” – Gabriella
“I appreciate being able to work on my organizational skills.” – Christopher

Thank you to our students who have uplifted us during this time and continue to reach their goals!

Mr. Gamber has been a long time volunteer who has been upgrading our old laptops and some he has donated, so that our students can do their online coursework and participate in our virtual labs and workshops.

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