Education Archives | UnidosNow

ACT Prep Class

Our students and sponsors understand the importance of preparing for the ACT, the standardized test many universities ask for from students in their applications. Since for many of our Future Leaders Academy scholars English is their second language, they feel compelled  to put forth more effort than the average student to make sure they obtain scores that  are competitive.

The first weekend in February, Ms. Anita Marcus, member of the Athena Giving Circles, gave her time to prepare our students for the ACT. During the weekend, our scholars received eight hours  of intensive preparation. On February 11th, the students took their ACT test and have markedly improved their scores. Thank you, Ms. Marcus, for your instrumental aid in getting our scholars to a new level.

Lakewood Ranch High Prepares to Host College Tour

In preparation for this year’s College Tour for our Future Leaders scholars, Lakewood Ranch High School and UnidosNow are starting to work together. Last month, the organization visited the premises to give students information about our education programs and FAFSA for seniors.

FAFSA Workshop at Southeast High

Southeast High School hosted financial aid workshops* for their senior students. UnidosNow, together with  volunteers from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, State College of Florida, and Keiser University, assisted students in filling out the their FAFSA, which will help  them receive resources to attend post-secondary school and college. Our Future Leaders Academy scholars were at the sign in table welcoming the families.



*Manatee Community Foundation​ and United Way of Manatee County​ support the initiatives in Manatee County through the Manatee Matches Giving Circle.

McIntosh Middle Program – An Update

Education Initiative Manager, Wendy Barroso, and Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, met with parents at McIntosh Middle School to promote a program, supported by the United Way Suncoast, with middle to top performers in 7th and 8th grade, providing them with the tools they need to think about going to college as they transition to high school.

Several parents enrolled in the program, after hearing the successful stories of current Future Leaders Academy scholars and parents, such as Anthony, who said, “Their help navigating through an unknown system and helping me successfully get into the college of my choice has been invaluable”.


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.

Choosing a Career Based on your Passion

On Wednesday, February 15th, the UnidosNow Club at Palmetto High School hosted a meeting focused on how to choose a career. Juan Arcila, Admissions Counselor at USF Sarasota-Manatee, engaged the students with a dynamic presentation, encouraging them to look for a career in a field they are passionate about. Dr. Giti Javidi, Assistant Professor of Information Technology at USF Sarasota-Manatee, shared her love of information technology, and did a fabulous job talking about the benefits of choosing a career in the areas of engineering/information technology.

The meeting wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jorge Serrano and the officers of the UnidosNow Club, who motivated their peers to be a part of this event. Also, Mr. Fernandes and Mr. Vasquez, teachers at Palmetto High, were key to the success of this event.

Executive Director, Luz Corcuera, stated after the meeting how appreciative UnidosNow is of all these community partners: “We are grateful for your leadership and partnership as we work together to empower our young Latino students. It is a privilege to work with all of you.”

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!

The Good News Keeps Coming: More Scholars Receive their College Acceptances

The closer we get to graduation, the more college acceptances our scholars are receiving. We continue feeling enormously proud of them, and we know they wouldn’t have come this far without the passionate support of all their mentors. Congratulations, FLA graduates, and thank you, mentors!









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