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For the fourth time in five years, the Volusia Take Stock in Children program (TSIC) was recognized for Gold Level excellence by its state office. Take Stock in Children is a statewide scholarship and mentoring program for at-risk, low-income students with a local program facilitated through FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools. 

Volusia’s TSIC team has been led for almost four years by TSIC Student Services & Mentor Coordinator Shimene Shepard.  “We are honored again to receive this award which demonstrates our local program is passionate about the education of youth in our community,” stated Ms. Shepard. “The Gold Level Award is presented to local programs which meet Take Stock in Children’s targeted goals in areas involving mentoring, college success coach visits and college readiness workshops. Our Take Stock in Children team works diligently every day to ensure our program is meeting the rigorous standards as required by the TSIC and its funding partners at the State of Florida.”

A core requirement of the TSIC program requires students to be matched with a mentor when entering the program in their freshman year and meet with their mentor each week throughout high school.  “Mentoring is a key to TSIC’s success by involving another caring adult that can provide an alternate perspective to their mentee,” continued Shepard.  “Our mentors range from local CEOs to retired individuals and everywhere in between.  In addition to mentoring, our scholars meet with their TSIC College Success Coach multiple times per semester as well as attend college readiness workshops throughout the school year.  Mentoring paired with the additional support systems propel our TSIC scholars to success.” The Volusia TSIC team and mentors quickly pivoted during the coronavirus pandemic to virtual mentoring sessions to maintain contact with students and ensure their success during the final semester.

The Volusia TSIC program currently maintains 76 high school students enrolled in Volusia County Public Schools.  Students attend all 10 of the public high schools and Volusia TSIC had a 100% high school graduation success rate with all 20 of its 2019-20 seniors graduating. 

Support of TSIC scholars does not end at high school graduation. During the 2018-19 academic year, TSIC implemented tools to help TSIC scholars graduate college.  TSIC alumni were hired as Student Ambassadors, who are working on Florida’s public university and college campuses. The role of the Student Ambassador is to mentor and engage new TSIC students attending their school.  Additionally, College Completion Coaches are working with Student Ambassadors to ensure TSIC alumni are receiving the support they need while navigating the college process. 

In Volusia County, TSIC scholars are chosen in eighth grade through an application and selection process based upon financial need, academic achievement, good character and community involvement. Scholars that are selected for TSIC agree to meet weekly with their mentor, remain crime/gang/drug/alcohol free, and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.  So long as the scholar meets these requirements, most Volusia TSIC scholars are awarded a four-year Florida Prepaid college tuition scholarship upon high school graduation.  “FUTURES Foundation works directly with the Stanley Tate Florida Prepaid College Foundation S.T.A.R.S. (Scholarship Tuition for At-Risk Students) Program for dollar-for-dollar matching funds on the purchase of these scholarships which doubles our donors’ investment,” Shepard stated.

“The opportunity of a college education for many of these students has been only dream until they receive this scholarship and realize it can come true if they work diligently in high school,” stated Cynthia Ramirez, Executive Director of FUTURES Foundation. “These amazing college tuition scholarships are funded through community and individual donations as well as proceeds from fundraisers presented by FUTURES, such as our spring Caribbean Party.”

Donations to purchase scholarships are accepted throughout the year and mentors are always being recruited for students. Anyone interested in donating to assist with scholarship purchases or becoming a volunteer mentor devoting 30 minutes each week on school campus may contact Shepard at or 386-255-6475, ext. 50724, for additional information.

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