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New campaign aims to help Florida students get “Cash for College”

Champions For Learning, as the backbone for Future Ready Collier, has partnered with Florida College Access Network (FCAN) to launch the “Cash for College” campaign to promote Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion as a crucial step as students and their families make plans for education beyond high school. About 4 out of 5 students in Florida use some combination of federal, state, and school-based aid to pay for college, and the way to access that aid is by completing the FAFSA.

Targeting Collier County’s Class of 2020 and 2021, the campaign aims to counteract the impact of COVID-19 on college enrollment. Nationwide, direct enrollment after high school graduation was down 6.9% in Fall 2020, and enrollment declines were 2.3 times steeper for low-income high schools compared to higher-income schools. Research also shows that low-income, first-generation -, and students of color are among the least likely to complete the FAFSA.

More To Come!

Champions For Learning plans to offer special incentives to those that complete the FAFSA, and will be creating a website for students to access free FAFSA and college enrollment resources in the coming months.

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Champions For Learning looks forward to in-person events in 2021-2022!

Champions For Learning looks forward to returning to in-person events for the 2021-2022 season!

Join in Friday, February 4, 2022 at Arthrex One for Night of Champions! 

As Champions For Learning’s signature event, Night of Champions celebrates the community of champions that has changed the lives of hundreds of Collier County students. This important celebration showcases our vibrant community, students and volunteers. Night of Champions includes a reception, three-course dinner, and silent auction.

Several high-impact sponsorship opportunities are available. Sponsorships support our student mentoring and scholarship programs, lifting the barriers that students on the path to career and college face and inspiring them to achieve.

Join in Monday, April 25, 2022 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort for our Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers!

Beyond simply an event, the Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers showcases our community’s educators’ innovative best practices that are exciting to students about learning and increasing student learning. During this community-wide event, the 2022 Golden Apple recipients, Golden Apple Teachers of Distinction, and the Collier County Public Schools Teachers of the Year are honored for the tremendous impact they make for our young people.

Golden Apple

The Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers includes a reception, elegant dinner, and inspiring presentations celebrating each of the Golden Apple teachers, giving guests a glimpse into their classrooms. The Golden Apple television program is aired on NBC-2 and posted to the Champions For Learning website and YouTube channel following the broadcast. The Golden Apple event and television show lead into Teacher Appreciation Week, culminating in a community-wide recognition and appreciation of educators. Several highly visible sponsorship opportunities are available.

Sponsorship Opportunities are currently available! 

To discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact Jeff Jerome, Vice President of Marketing & Events, at 239.263.5785 or JJerome@ChampionsForLearning.org.

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Philanthropy at the Core of the Kendra Scott Mission

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of the brand-new store at Waterside Shops by hosting a special event benefitting Champions For Learning. A favorite of celebrities and fashionistas alike, Kendra Scott has the line of jewelry you’ve probably seen on the necks, wrists, and ears of women all over.

Taking the fashion world by storm, Kendra Scott uses her fame and fortune for a good cause as much as she can. Through the Kendra Gives Back program, the company has partnered with Champions For Learning to host an in-store and online event with 20% of the proceeds going to support Champions.

The in-store event is being held Friday, June 25th from 4:00-6:00pm at the new Kendra Scott store at Waterside Shops. Enjoy mingling with Champions For Learning volunteers and staff and complimentary to-go sips and sweets while you shop. If you are unable to stop by in-store to support, just visit www.kendrascott.com anytime Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th and enter the code GIVEBACK-AACJS at checkout to donate 20% of your purchase to support Champions For Learning.

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

Through Kendra Gives Back, the company has been able to donate more than $30 million dollars to various causes throughout the country.

Support Champions For Learning at the Kendra Gives Back event, we hope to see you on Friday, June 25th. Kendra Scott is located at Waterside Shops, 5485 Tamiami Trail, between Sunglass Hut and White House/Black Market. For more information, call Jeff Jerome at Champions For Learning at (239) 643-4755.

 

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Everyone Has A Story…

Everyone Has A Story…

…yet figuring out how to tell your unique, personal story can be daunting.

Champions For Learning’s rising 12th-grade  students have recently completed draft versions of their Personal Statements – the essays written for college admissions committees showing who you are and why you deserve to be admitted – and are now working towards finalizing their drafts before the start of their Senior year.

Personal essay writing can be a painful and emotional process. Framing your strengths and experiences thoughtfully and with self-awareness—and in just 650 words or less—can be overwhelming. After all, this is one of the most important pieces of writing these students will have done in their lives up until this point. So are they nervous? Under pressure? You bet.

But what they aren’t is alone. To help take some of the anxiety out of the process, Champions For Learning volunteers and staff worked with students to guide them in crafting essays that they’re proud of. These sessions offered students a fresh, objective perspective, and help in identifying what’s working in their essay and what’s not.

Great personal statements bring students’ ambitions, challenges, and personalities to life. This week, students learned to pinpoint one story that best illustrates their brand and how to draw in and engage the reader from the very start. They also learned how to share their story creatively using fresh language and sensory details, honesty and clarity.

Angie Joseph, a 2017 Champions For Learning graduate and recent Florida Atlantic University graduate, was one of the volunteers on hand working one-on-one with students. “I think the most interesting thing I learned today is the amount of fear there is revolving around being boastful. I wanted to assure the students that they could be proud of what they have achieved and own their truths.”

“I wanted them to walk away with a better understanding of how to write a personal statement that was both true to themselves and their personalities. After speaking to them, I wanted them to come alive on the page… I’m excited to see them go for it!”

The college admissions process, and in particular the essay writing process, gives students the invaluable opportunity to delve into who they are and who they’re becoming, but it can be an overwhelming experience. This week, Champions For Learning students were empowered by the experience and, in turn, volunteers were inspired as they watched them grow.

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Community Funds Over $95,000 in 2020-2021 Classroom Grants

 

The Classroom Grant opportunity continues to impact thousands of students throughout Collier County’s schools, both public and independent. This provides the ability for teachers to experience the support of a community committed to a variety of learning experiences. Even with such an uncertain start to the school year, teachers utilized the Classroom Grant portal to request what they needed for their classrooms, and the community responded graciously.

The Classroom Grant online portal allows teachers to request classroom grants that are funded directly by the community to create innovative learning experiences for their students. 100% of these contributions go directly into the classroom for teachers to use with students immediately.

The impact of this grant will continue to be evident as we progress through this year and years to come.”
– Kathleen Lawler, Pelican Marsh Elementary School

 

Below are just two examples of the 170 fully funded projects from the 2020-2021 school year:

Project: Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art

Teacher: Carole Burns

School: Veterans Memorial Elementary School

Grade(s): 1st Grade

Impact: 34 students impacted

Cost: $484.80

Investor: Suncoast Credit Union

“The art comes to life throughout the year in our kindergarten classroom as the students explore key social studies and science concepts and standards through art and language using a process called Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy Through Art.

Each student created water-color crayon resist artwork to represent learnings during the Science and Social Studies curriculum. The students then wrote poems about fall and about USA symbols, accessing descriptive language and literary devices from their paintings.

These pictures provide an example of how essential concepts, important language arts skills, and the arts can be integrated into one dynamic learning experience.”

– Carole Burns, Veterans Memorial Elementary

 

Project: Close Emotionally – while social distancing – WE DINE TOGETHER, thanks to you!

Teacher: Anna Bowe

School: Lely High School

Grade(s): 9 – 12 Grades

Impact: 1,000+ students impacted

Cost: $999.01

Investor: Perna-Rose Foundation of Hope

In its second year, the “Friendship Garden” at Lely High School continues to flourish.  As a project of the We Dine Together International Club, the students designed and created the garden in the 2019-20 school year as a place of relaxation, conversation and connection.

During this school year, the garden has taken on a deeper meaning as students navigate the COVID-related restrictions and learn how to make this a space to foster connection in the midst of separation.  The students are learning not only how to plan a garden space, but also how to consider others and create a space for emotional growth and healing.

 

The Classroom Grant portal is currently closed for individual grants, but will reopen in July 2021 for new grant requests for the 2021-2022 school year.

To support teachers’ great ideas and donate to the general Classroom Grants Fund for 2021-2022, click HERE or text “APPLE21” to 44-321.

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Groups work together to provide bikes for college-bound students

Groups work together to provide bikes for college-bound students

Link to WINK News story

Champions For Learning staff and student receiving bikeTransportation is expensive, but especially for young, college-bound students. A car may be out of reach for those who have big college plans and a small budget.

Now, two groups in Collier County are teaming up to make sure that dozens of students have a way to get from place to place.

Three college-bound Champions For Learning students receive bikes

 

Bryan just graduated from Naples High School. “Learning quality material meeting great people and just getting to live life with like-minded friends,” he said.

There’s no doubt that 2021 high school graduates are ready to spread their wings and fly. But, before they head off to their respective campuses, they need a way to get around.

Dorothy Whipple is a mentor at Champions for Learning. “The students need it. Most of them don’t have the money for cars,” said Whipple.

Some are looking for a way to move about campus and get to class. Others need a way to get to work.

Bikes For Tykes Naples

Djully graduated from Lely High School recently. “The new change having new opportunities to live for myself,” she said.

Todd Geroy is with Bikes for Tykes. “You know, all these students are going to be going off to college, and it will be their transportation,” Geroy said.

Todd Geroy from Bikes for Tykes is teaming up with Champions for Learning to help these new graduates transition to college a bit more smoothly.

Jonh Whipple is also a mentor with Champions for Learning. “It’s really surprising that so many kids that are going to college have never been on a bike they don’t know the front from the back, so we’re giving bike lessons here today,” said John.

Bryan has decided he’s staying local and will be going to FGCU. With some help, he picked out the perfect ride on Friday.

“I was looking at it since the beginning it was kind of calling my name,” he said.

This new ride may not have air conditioning, and only has two wheels but it still makes a world of difference.

“I’m super excited I’m going to be riding it a lot it’s going to be put to great use,” said Brian.

And of course, that’s what matters the most.

This is the first year that Champions for Learning and Bikes for Tykes teamed up to give away bikes to new graduates. Altogether, they were able to give away more than 40 bikes.

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Congratulations Class of 2021!

 

Congratulations Class of 2021!

On May 6th, 74 impressive 12th-grade students were honored at the Countdown to Cap and Gown Celebration, presented by BMO Wealth Management and hosted by the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.

More than 200 people joined in to celebrate the graduating seniors for their successful completion of Champions For Learning scholarship programs.

As these students prepare for high school graduation and transition into the next phase of their education and then into the workforce, it was a great opportunity to pause and celebrate their successes.

This year, more than ever, we have learned how resilient our students can be. We are so proud of this year’s graduates and we look forward to seeing all that they accomplish.

8th Grade Induction – Moving Forward

On April 17th, Champions For Learning celebrated the induction of a new class of students into our scholarship and mentoring program. These 56 eighth graders, who will graduate from high school in 2025, look forward to forging new pathways and making their college and career dreams come true.

Champions For Learning is committed to working hard to always support the success of these students. But that’s not all. Through the generous support of our donors, each student is promised a two-year tuition scholarship to a Florida state college for once they successfully complete the program. We wish them success!

Scholarships – Help deserving students pay for college

Champions For Learning ensures that students are equipped and prepared for their future learning and career goals through our scholarship and mentoring programs.

Students with good grades and behavior and a desire for achieving post-secondary goals qualify for these programs. Once selected, support is provided to help students apply for college or technical school and to establish their career path and goals. In addition, Champions For Learning works with a range of collaborative partners and a network of volunteers to ensure that students and their families are equipped with key information and resources, empowering students to succeed.

Whether you want to contribute as a mentor or by investing through Champions For Learning, both are excellent ways to help a young person realize their dreams. For many that means going to college, then returning to Naples to serve in health care, education or other professions and raising a family. With over 500 graduates and counting, Champions For Learning scholarship programs are setting students up for a lifetime of achievement.

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. Text to Give is easy, simply text “Champs21” to 44-321.

 

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Connecting Tomorrow’s Champions To Their Futures

My name is Jose and I am a 2016 graduate of Champions For Learning’s Take Stock In Children scholarship and mentoring program. While attending Florida SouthWestern State College full time, I’ve also worked for a real estate technology firm for the past two years. This April, I graduated from FSW with my Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree in Supervision and Management. I’ve also recently purchased a home in Naples and have just accepted a promotion at my firm, making me Associate Regional Manager.

I grew up in a family where our financial situation meant that college wasn’t going to be an option without a scholarship. Not only that, but I was preparing to be a first-generation college student, so navigating my future and applying for college just wasn’t guidance that my parents were able to provide. Champions For Learning provided the resources, knowledge, and accountability I needed during high school that has ultimately led to my success today.

For me, the key component of the Champions For Learning program was the mentoring aspect. There was a time during high school that I went through a rough patch. There were challenges within my family and I didn’t know quite how to handle them. My mentor served as a rock during that time, he met me at school every week for lunch and we really bonded. That was a pivotal moment for me, and I truly believe that the stability that my mentor was able to provide led to me making it through.

It’s amazing to me how many community members are willing to give back, people who truly care. The Champions For Learning mentors give not just days or months, but years of their lives to be mentors for students in Collier County. I feel like I was given this amazing opportunity by Champions For Learning, and that those experiences have led to who I am today.

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. Text to Give is easy, simply text “Champs21” to 44-321.

 

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Carpenters of Stonebridge Bring Community Need To Light

 

A Stonebridge community member’s talent for carpentry and heart for giving has transformed the lives of students who lack an essential tool.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the virtual learning that followed soon after, revealed a number of previously hidden needs within our community and nationwide. Across the country, over 9 million students didn’t have access to the internet at home. Over 4 million students didn’t have access to a computer or tablet. But what were kids even more in need of? It turns out the one item that students in Collier County needed most is desks.

Stonebridge Country Club resident Peter Fleming was looking for ways to help throughout the pandemic. After hearing about similar projects in other cities, he banded together a neighborhood team and began building desks to donate to Champions For Learning to distribute to local students in need. The purpose of their project was to give students a dedicated place to study while at home, whether that be while learning online during the pandemic or now that most students are back in the classroom as a place to complete their homework. Their “Desks-By-Dads” project has allowed students to be able to better concentrate on their studies, providing them a space that is their own and separate from potential distractions.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to move online, students were tasked with finding new ways to learn from home – often at a kitchen table, a bed, or even a living room floor. Online learning was challenging enough for children, and not having a dedicated workspace made it even harder to be focused and organized.

With the help of several Stonebridge volunteers, so far the Desks-By-Dads project has provided 57 desks, built to collapse and be put away when not in use, to Collier students in need.

One Champions For Learning eighth-grade student, who has been using either her older brother’s desk or her bed to complete her homework, shared that she is looking forward to having space away from household distractions to organize her schoolwork.

“The demand for student desks has shown that we don’t always know what others in our community need,” said Susan McManus, President of Champions For Learning. “It’s been so meaningful to see the energy of this project, we really can’t thank the team of volunteer carpenters at Stonebridge enough.”

The Champions For Learning students and families that have received desks are also grateful. Thank you messages and pictures from parents who say that the desks “have made homework time so much easier.”

Champions For Learning student Rodrigo says that “the desk has really helped me by establishing a quiet location away from distractions. Now I am able to study and do my homework,” adding, “My words can’t express how fortunate I was to get a desk. This has really made a difference in my life.”

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Alumna Update: Meet Marlene Ruiz-Perez

As I think back on my journey, I am so grateful for the opportunity that the Champions For Learning mentoring and scholarship program has given me. My name is Marlene Ruiz-Perez and I entered the program when I was in my junior year of high school. Last week, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology at Florida Gulf Coast University and will be attending pharmacy school at the University of South Florida in the fall. Without the support that I received from Champions for Learning, I don’t know that my path would have been the same or that I would have been able to attend college debt-free.

I’m so thankful that being part of Champions for Learning meant being paired with a mentor. My mentor is someone that was not only there for me in high school but has continued with me into my next chapter of life, helping with areas outside what my peers were able to. We talk about all different topics, and in turn, have grown our relationship and bond. I have a friend that continuously encourages and motivates me to work hard and stay focused to achieve my goals. Our relationship has gone beyond mentor and mentee and is so strong, to me, I could say she is like family.

I am so proud to be the first in my family to attend and graduate college and to be a role model for my younger brothers. They have been able to see and learn from my experiences and see that they too can pursue post-secondary education debt-free. I am very glad that our single mother has not had to worry about our future. She knows that we have the support of Champions For Learning and has had the opportunity to learn with us throughout this process. She has encouraged and motivated me to work hard to achieve my dreams and now she can watch my hopes become a reality.

Through Champions for Learning, I have learned the importance of getting involved in my community. I have been able to pay it forward by being involved in organizations that allow me to make a difference in the lives of younger students and mentor them to pursue post-secondary education. I have gained new experiences, I have challenged myself, and I have become a greater part of my community by being involved. Through Champions, I have learned that it is never too early to make a difference.

Throughout high school, I attended weekly college and career lab sessions. The Champions For Learning staff provided us a wealth of resources, including how to properly complete college and scholarship applications. During this process I found many parts confusing but was able to utilize the resources provided by Champions to help me along. I learned how to create a proper resume, how to correctly fill out my FAFSA, and important skills for maintaining a budget. I have learned about a variety of careers through the presentations given by members of the community, and about study abroad programs presented by alumni. All of this has helped me feel prepared for my future and where I am now. My achievements and successes are proof that working hard and staying determined leads to achieving greatness. Because of Champions for Learning, I know that I have no limitations.

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