Volusia's Take Stock in Children Program Receives Luminary Award and Gold Level of Excellence
For the second time in three years, the Volusia Take Stock in Children program (TSIC) was recognized for Gold Level excellence at the annual TSIC College and Career Readiness Summit held recently in Tampa Bay, FL. Take Stock in Children is a statewide scholarship and mentoring program for at-risk, low-income students facilitated locally through FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools.
In addition to receiving the Gold Level Excellence Award, Volusia’s TSIC team, led by Student Services & Mentor Coordinator Shimene Shepard, received the Luminary Award for the first time. “We are honored to receive both awards which demonstrate our local program is passionate about the education of youth in our community,” stated Ms. Shepard. “The Luminary Award was only given to programs which exceeded 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 is students are matched with a mentor when entering the program 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 Ms. 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, either Justine Florez or Laura Reece, 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 program currently maintains 73 high school students enrolled in Volusia County Public Schools. Students attend all 10 of the public high schools and Volusia TSIC has a high school graduation success rate of 99%.
Support of TSIC scholars does not end at high school graduation. During the 2018-2019 academic year, TSIC has implemented tools to help students graduate college. TSIC Student Ambassadors, all TSIC alumni, will be working on public university and college campuses. The role of the Student Ambassador is to mentor and engage new TSIC students attending their school. Additionally, College Competition Coaches will work with Student Ambassadors to make certain 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 3.0 grade point average. So long as the scholar meets these requirements, the majority of Volusia TSIC scholars are awarded a four-year Florida Prepaid college tuition scholarship upon high school graduation. “FUTURES Foundation works directly with the Stanley G. 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,” Ms. 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.” FUTURES is currently accepting sponsorships for its Saturday, March 30, 2019 Caribbean Party, presented by Florida Power and Light, and honoring civic leaders Bob and Bobbi Coleman in the Rolex 24 AT DAYTONA Lounge at Daytona International Speedway.
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 Ms. Shepard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386-255-6475, ext. 50724, for additional information.
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