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Juan Arcila Joins UnidosNow Board

Since July 2016, Juan Arcila, Admissions Counselor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, has been involved with UnidosNow and the Future Leaders Academy. He is helping us with this year’s Future Leaders Summer Academy, and he was also instrumental during last year’s Giving Challenge and engaging the millennials involvement in our fundraising efforts.

Juan holds a BA in Public Health and is now pursuing his Master’s Degree in Education. He is the perfect example of UnidosNow core mission: a first-generation Latino in the United States who comes from a low-income family and is the first one in his family to go to college.

His passion and dedication to our organization and scholars is palpable in everything he has done with and for UnidosNow, and it hasn’t been unnoticed by our leadership. Kelly Kirschner, Board Chair of UnidosNow, invited Juan Arcila to join our Board of Directors last February. We now have  the benefit of his knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment. Welcome to the team, Juan!

Gecko’s Creates a Scholarship for our Scholars

Gecko’s Hospitality Group Family of Restaurants presented a check to UnidosNow to award scholarships to four of our very deserving scholars. The owners, Mike Quillen and Mike Gowan, have established these scholarships in honor of the loyal and dedicated families that support their children to pursue higher education.

Gecko’s has been a steady supporter of UnidosNow and it is one of the first businesses that has made onsite English-Life Skills classes available for their workers and their families.

We value and appreciate their partnership and commitment to our community.

College Prep Programs Expand

UnidosNow piloted  our high school program at Sarasota High and Palmetto High during the 2015-2016 academic year. This academic year the program has expanded to several other high schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Two of our recent launches have been at Riverview High* and North Port High*.

Working closely with Riverview High faculty and staff, as well as other non-profit partners, our goal is to assist low-income students who aspire to continue their education after high school.  Our first two initiatives included a FAFSA workshop to assist families in filing for federal financial aid and a scholarship workshop conducted in conjunction with the Selby Foundation.

Riverview High SchoolRiverview High School
In the background, Alix Giannini (Director of Counseling Services at Riverview) and Deb Piner (College and Career Advisor); in the forefront, community partners from Keiser University and the Sarasota County Government Human Services Program.Wendy Barroso (UnidosNow) assisting a student and his Spanish-speaking father fill out the FAFSA application.
Riverview High SchoolRiverview High School
Evan Jones (Selby Foundation), Hector Tejeda (UnidosNow) and Deb Piner (College and Career Advisor, Riverview High).Evan Jones (Selby Foundation) giving overview of how to apply for local scholarships.

We are supporting North Port High with their FAFSA application process thanks to the support of Tervis, and starting in March, we will also  begin working at North Port High , identifying and supporting high-performing Latino students who have the potential to gain admission to competitive colleges. We will also provide support to the school’s college and career advisor, as well as guidance counselors, in serving the broader Latino student population to make informed plans for their future.

UnidosNow will also develop and deliver age-appropriate college prep workshops, starting with middle schoolers transitioning to North Port High.  These sessions will include working with parents to help them better understand how to  support their children’s education, including how to get more involved with the school.

*The Riverview High School program is supported by the United Way Suncoast. The North Port High School program is supported by Tervis.

Leslye Trujillo, Volunteer of the Month

Photography by Karen Arango, karenarango.com

Leslye Trujillo is one of our Future Leaders Academy scholars. She is the oldest of three siblings and a senior at Manatee High School. She will graduate with her Associate’s in Art by the time she graduates high school. Leslye has already received four college acceptances from the University of Central Florida, Florida International University, University of South Florida – St. Pete, and Florida Southern College. She will be the first one in her family to go to college, and her dream is to become a physician assistant.

Leslye is the president of the UnidosNow Club at Manatee High, where –among other activities- she’s been very active in spreading the word about FAFSA and helping during the labs – offered to seniors at various high schools in Manatee County.

Leslye is also one of our student ambassadors, accompanying Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, at presentations in the community and sharing her story of struggle and success. One of the latest invitations she has received is to the Manatee School Board to talk about her college dream. Leslye was also recently selected as a semifinalist for the Golden Herald Awards in the vocational category, a “program originated in 1978 by the Bradenton Herald to honor outstanding Manatee County high school seniors for noble service to their schools and community”.

Thank you for being on our team, Leslye. Keep on dreaming big!

Allstate Foundation Donates $1,000 to UnidosNow

From left to right, Board Member, Frankie Soriano; Board Chair, Kelly Kirschner; Executive Director, Luz Corcuera; long-term UnidosNow supporter, Manuel Chepote; and Communications Director, Beatriz Paniego-Béjar.

Thanks to the endless support of our volunteer Manuel Chepote – who has been a mentor, advisory board member, and amazing advocate of UnidosNow since 2010 – we recently received a $1,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation.

Manuel is one of their agents, whose office is located in downtown Sarasota, and he has secured this donation to support our Future Leaders Academy and the work we do to ensure our students get the help they need to walk through the college application process. Thank you, Allstate Foundation and Manuel!

Jonathan Barroso, Volunteer of the Month

Jonathan Barroso, Future Leaders Academy scholar and a sophomore at Sarasota Military Academy, spent his Christmas holidays working at our office. He was of great help, assisting with computer set-up and connecting and testing printers, scanners, and phones. Thanks to Jonathan, UnidosNow has better internet access and connectivity. He also helped the team organize the office and re-arrange furniture.

Furthermore, since the team organized the office and re-arranged furniture while Jonathan was on site, he helped with this task as well.

Jonathan has already taken on several leadership roles at UnidosNow, and regularly gives back to the community. Thank you, Jonathan, for your invaluable help!

FAFSA Completion Numbers Increasing

 

Thanks to our invaluable partners, our Local College Access Networks* (LCANs) in Sarasota and Manatee, the number of seniors who complete FAFSA is increasing due to the workshops and labs offered at the high schools of both counties.

LCAN partners in Sarasota comprise: United Way SuncoastGreater Sarasota Chamber of CommerceGulf Coast Community FoundationCareerEdge, and the Sarasota Education Foundation. LCAN partners in Manatee comprise: Manatee Community FoundationUnited Way of ManateeThe School District of Manateethe Manatee Chamber of CommerceUSF Sarasota-ManateeManatee Technical CollegeTake Stock in Children of Manatee County, and CareerEdge.

UnidosNow’s Board Chair, Education Winner at the Unity Awards

UnidosNow’s Board of Directors Chair, Kelly Kirschner, received the Unity Award in the Education category this year, because he “sees education as the ticket to self-improvement, productivity and democracy.” Read the full article from Biz941 here.

The award was received by Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, on Tuesday, January 24th, at the Unity Awards event at Michael’s On East. Corcuera gave a heartfelt speech, having in mind all of our Future Leaders Academy Scholars:

“Education is a basic right for everyone, but it is also a responsibility that the community has to take at heart. We are all responsible for our children’s education and we must look at them as ‘our’ children.

Kelly understood this early on and during his studies at Georgetown University and his involvement with the Peace Corps, he immersed himself in the richness of the culture and the language of the people of Guatemala.  During his tenure as a Mayor of Sarasota, he realized very quickly that the Latino community was the fastest growing  group in Sarasota-Manatee and had the vision to create UnidosNow as the center to empower Latinos in Sarasota and Manatee to achieve the American Dream.

It is now up to all of us to continue promoting education in an environment that fosters love, kindness, and hope.  We celebrate the Unity Awards and the inspiring people they honor today because of their contributions to continue to make America the great country it is with its rich diversity.”

Our Youth is the Future

By Luz Corcuera

Almost exactly one year ago, in February 2016, I had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of Japanese students who were visiting St. Stephen’s Episcopal School as a part of an exchange program. Mr. Patrick Whelan, Head of Social Studies, invited me to speak with the students, and our discussion centered on social justice, peace, poverty, immigration, marginalization, education, and social determinants of health.

After that encounter, some students kept in touch with me, including Akisumi Nouguchi. Akisumi is an impressive young man who really wants to use science to help humanity. He has now prepared a brochure (please see below) to explain what happened in Kumamoto (Japan) after two earthquakes struck this place in just two days. Akisumi shared his project with me and asked me to share it with my network. I hope you find his work and passion as enlightening and inspiring as I found it.

This will be the generation to bridge divides and create a just and peaceful world for subsequent generations.

Thank you, Akisumi, for sharing your work with us.

With Gratitude

volunteers_image

The UnidosNow team would like to extend our sincere thanks to – and deep appreciation of – all of our generous, committed volunteers, funders, supporters and partners who make it possible for us to empower our young people to Dream Big and Reach High! Learn more about this day here: #GlobalApplause.

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