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Champions For Learning Awards More Than $75,000 In Classroom Grants

Today, Collier County teachers were surprised by Champions For Learning board members, volunteers and supporters as they received funds for their classroom grants.

During the course of the day, Champions For Learning awarded 136 grant checks that totaled $75,448 to 42 schools. The checks will provide teachers with the funds needed to implement creative and innovative learning experiences for students.These classroom grants were requested by Collier County teachers through the online grant portal on Champions For Learning’s website. The community can go to the website and fund requests (up to $2,000). This online grant program began in 2003 to enable the community to support teachers.

Thanks to a charitable gift from Suncoast Credit Union, which supports the technology and capacity for the classroom grant portal, 100% of community contribution goes into supporting teacher grants. The following provided significant contributions to fund specific teacher grants: Suncoast Credit Union, Florida’s Support Education License Plate Fund, Lucie Jenny MacCarthy Music Fund of the Community Foundation of Collier County, Perna-Rose Foundation for Hope, and Ray Harman in memory of Karen Harman.

Help provide life-changing learning experiences to students! There are still opportunities to fund a teacher’s great idea. Visit www.ChampionsForLearning.org/CWACgrants to support local classrooms today! You can also help fund Classroom Grants through the License to Learn Fund (Florida Education Tag). Collier County community members can buy the new version of the tag now, $20 of the annual $25 fee is donated to Champions For Learning and 100% of the funds support classroom grants.

Full List of Classroom Grant Recipients 

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Champions For Learning Celebrates 30 Years

Champions For Learning is celebrating 30 years of creating life-changing learning experiences for every student. Our community recognition has begun with a proclamation by the City of Naples recognizing September 24th as Champions For Learning Day in collaboration with schools across Collier County.

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Champions For Learning Earns Fourth Consecutive 4-Star Rating

Champions For Learning’s (The Education Foundation of Collier County) strong financial standing and commitment to accountability and transparency has led the organization to earn a four star rating by Charity Navigator, the leading charity evaluator in America, as it celebrates its 30th year as an organization.

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Champions For Learning Announces 2019 -2020 Board of Directors

Champions For Learning is proud to announce their 2019-2020 Board of Directors as we celebrate 30 years. This group of professionals and community leaders are dedicated to creating a community that is 100% engaged in support of student success along with preparing for the next 30 years.

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Attention Class of 2020 Attend a Rising Senior Workshop!

Registration is open for the Class of 2020 to attend Champions For Learning’s Rising Senior Workshops.

These Rising Senior Workshops are provided at no cost to Collier County students and families thanks to the generous support of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and Naples Children & Education Foundation.

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Congratulations Graduates!

The 12th grade students who have accomplished their goals in Champions For Learning programs were celebrated in a Countdown to Cap and Gown Celebration, presented by BMO Harris Bank, on April 11th at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.

More than 450 people—board members, school staff, donors, volunteers, mentors, parents, and alumni joined to celebrate the 95 seniors representing 11 high schools participating in the Take Stock in Children and College and Career Preparation programs of Champions For Learning.

To-date, the senior class (95 students), has accomplished the following

  • 220 college acceptances
  • 9600+ community service hours
  • And, to date, earned 104 scholarships totaling just over $3.4 million dollars

The Champions For Learning Class of 2019 was named in honor of Claudine Leger-Wetzel for her leadership and commitment to the mission of Champions For Learning which has spanned almost 14 years and represents her personal dedication and passion for education, along with the her professional role with Stock Development sharing their commitment to education.

The student program support is generously provided by many donors and in particular, thank you for the incredible generosity from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Take Stock In Children Foundation, Florida Prepaid 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.

In addition to BMO Harris Bank as presenting sponsor, these sponsors also helped to make the evening celebration possible:  AT&T, Gulfshore Insurance, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, and Naples Daily News.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to help Champions For Learning earn matching scholarship dollars for next year’s class, or you would like to get involved as a mentor, please contact Champions For Learning at 643-4755.

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Attention 10th Graders- College and Career Prep Program Application- NOW OPEN!

Champions For Learning would like to encourage students in 10th grade from public or independent high schools, 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 and in particular, thank you for the incredible generosity from 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 2019 through 2021)
  • 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 private 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 2021
  • 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 $119,915.  2018 taxes preferred, but will accept 2017 taxes.

The deadline to apply for the program is May 8, 2019 and it is a competitive application process.  To download an application, visit ChampionsForLearning.org/apply.

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Announcing William R. Barker as 2018-2019 Heart of the Apple Recipient

Champions For Learning is proud to announce the recognition of William R. (Bill) Barker as the 2018-19 Heart of the Apple recipient. 

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.

Bill’s professional interests as a career newspaper professional, and his own personal commitment to education and the role that education plays in thriving communities has inspired his leadership of Champions For Learning, The Education Foundation of Collier County.

As the Regional President, Southeast, LOCALiQ and USA Today Network, and the Publisher of the Naples Daily News, Bill has been instrumental in continuing the almost 30-year partnership between Naples Daily News and Champions For Learning, with the newspaper as one of the founding partners.

Bill has very clearly identified education as a fundamental driver of community and economy.  And, as a Board Chair, and now Immediate Past Chair, Bill has provided significant leadership and has left a lasting imprint on the development of Champions For Learning.  He has long understood the significant and unique role of an education foundation, and he leveraged his talents and vision to support Champions For Learning’s role in community collaboration, and was a catalyst in the effort to bring a community together around common goals through Future Ready Collier. 

Bringing his own strengths to this work has helped to “shine the light” on the fundamental role that Champions For Learning, teachers, students and mentors play in changing lives every day—making sure our students and teachers know they are worthy of headlines.

 “We are excited to honor Bill who has had a significant impact on this generation of young people, and by extension, our entire community,” explains Susan McManus, President of Champions For Learning. “Bill truly embodies the Heart of the Apple award through his passion for helping teachers and students.”

Barker, along with all of the honored teachers in the Golden Apple teacher recognition program will be honored at the 29th Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner presented by Suncoast Credit Union on March 29, 2019 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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Golden Apple Recipients Announced!

Today, students in six Collier County classrooms received bushels of Golden Delicious apples as their teachers were surprised with Golden Apple awards, which highlight best practices in teaching.  Representatives from Suncoast Credit Union, Presenting Sponsor of the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program, were joined by Champions For Learning board members, sponsors, and volunteers to present the awards to the teachers in their classrooms.

59 Teachers of Distinction (4 co-teacher teams) representing 55 Collier County Public Schools shared their best practices. Champions For Learning’s community-based selection committee identified six (6) practices to highlight as part of the Golden Apple process.

Congratulations to the following 2018-2019 Golden Apple recipients.  See attached list for the names of the Teachers of Distinction.

  • Philip G. Barton, Immokalee Middle School
  • Kim Benedict, Gulf Coast High School
  • Stephanie Cashion/Deniece Giovinazzo (Co-Teachers), East Naples Middle School
  • Krista Fusco, Vineyards Elementary School
  • Ashley Stafford, Lake Park Elementary School
  • Jill Striz, Village Oaks Elementary School

 “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 recognize 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 2018-2019 Golden Apple recipients will each receive a grant (up to $5,000) from Suncoast Credit Union to allow the building of best practices.  All Teachers of Distinction receive a $250 award, and the Golden Apple recipients receive an additional cash award thanks to the Mary Ingram Fund of the Columbus Foundation. 

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.

The community will honor and thank the Golden Apple Recipients, Teachers of Distinction, and Collier County Public Schools’ Teachers of the Year at the Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner on March 29, 2019.  We will also be honoring William R. Barker as the 2018-2019 Heart of the Apple recipient for his contribution to our community.

The 2019 Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers is presented by Suncoast Credit Union and is generously hosted by the Naples Grande Beach Resort. Additional support is provided by our Major Sponsors: Conditioned Air, eBella Magazine, the Mary Ingram Fund of the Columbus Foundation, Moorings Park, Naples Daily News, NBC-2, and Wells Fargo.

The event hashtag will be #GoldenAppleCollier and #Champs4Collier

Opportunities to sponsor a school to attend the event are available. For more information on event sponsorships and ticket sales go to www.ChampionsForLearning.org/GA.

Families, students, and the entire community are invited to join in the celebration by tuning in to NBC-2 for the Golden Apple television program highlighting the great work of teachers in Collier County classrooms.  The program will be aired on Friday, March 29 on NBC-2 at 8:00pm, and rebroadcast multiple times after on The Education Channel.

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Corky and Chuck Carlsen Announced as Champions For Learning Mentors of the Year

Chuck and Corky first became involved with Champions For Learning by mentoring two students through the Take Stock in Children program, and brought their passion to the success of their mentees.

Chuck joined the Board of Directors and serves as the Vice Chair of Community Outreach. His leadership with the Champions For Learning Ambassadors Council has helped the volunteer outreach group to recruit a significant number of volunteers and mentors. Chuck and Corky are also this year’s Mentors of the Year.

Chuck and Corky not only give their time, but also provide philanthropic leadership.   Last year, they were instrumental in meeting a financial matching challenge for the College and Career Preparation Program that helps to sustain support for future students.  Their impact is put best by Isabel, Corky’s mentee, “My experience with my mentor is a one in a million.”

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