college prep Archives | UnidosNow

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.

With Gratitude

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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.

Ongoing FAFSA Outreach & Support Efforts

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The UnidosNow education team and partners have been crisscrossing Manatee and Sarasota counties in the last month, working to ensure high school seniors have the critical information needed to complete their FAFSA. We conducted numerous outreach activities to inform students and families about FAFSA labs, where volunteers help families fill out their FAFSA forms. Our outreach efforts included, for example, classes or lunch hours where seniors were in attendance at Palmetto and Bayshore high schools, a college fair at Palmetto High, an information session at Sacred Heart Church, the Hispanic Festival at Holy Cross Church, an info table at the Remote Area Medical event at MTC, and electronic outreach via our Remind system, which sends text notifications to students who are registered with us. UnidosNow engaged over 1,000 seniors through this outreach. Find pictures of all these events in our Facebook page.

Subsequently, in partnership with our community partners, FAFSA labs were offered at Sarasota Military Academy, North Port, Sarasota, Booker, Palmetto, Lakewood Ranch and Bayshore high schools, where trained volunteers assisted approximately 254 families to complete the FAFSA. Our invaluable partners include Talent for Tomorrow in Sarasota County – comprised of United Way SuncoastSarasota Education FoundationGreater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and CareerEdge. – and the Local College Access Network (LCAN) in Manatee County – comprised ofthe Manatee Community FoundationUnited Way of ManateeThe School District of Manateethe Manatee Chamber of Commerce, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Manatee Technical College, Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, and CareerEdge. UnidosNow is a member of both collaboratives.

We believe these partnership efforts are significantly impacting FAFSA completion rates in our area, as evidenced in the below data charts from the US Department of Education for Manatee and Sarasota counties:

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For information on upcoming FAFSA labs or information sessions, click here.

“Myths & Facts” Presentation at Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County

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In November, UnidosNow’s Executive Director Luz Corcuera spoke to the Healthy Teens Coalition membership about the myths and facts associated with applying to college for low income, first generation high school students.

Some of the myths, which UnidosNow programming directly addresses, include the notion that college is too expensive to consider; it’s unattainable; the student doesn’t have “what it takes;” and/or studying out of state is too costly.

The truth is that these students underestimate their own potential, so that, without the appropriate support to help them realize that potential, they often drop out of college. However, statistics show that a significantly higher percentage of these students graduate when they attend smaller, more selective colleges than most large public universities in Florida.

Merit-based scholarships are often more substantial at such institutions. In order to access these opportunities, students need to take the first step, which is completing the FAFSA. This will determine if Pell Grant money is available to them and will allow them to apply for private scholarships, which require FAFSA completion.

“Inspiring Latinos to Achieve the American Dream” Presentation at AAUW

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The American Association of University Women invited UnidosNow to speak about our work last month. Executive Director Luz Corcuera and FLA Scholar Gabrielle, jointly, presented at this special meeting.

Luz discussed UnidosNow’s mission to empower and inspire young Latinos and their families. Gabrielle spoke about the impact of the programs in which she has participated, in particular, the Future Leaders Academy, and how it motivated her to revamp her resume and essay and apply to selective colleges.

Gabrielle, whose dream is to become a pediatric surgeon, will graduate from high school with an associate’s degree in 2017 and has been accepted to UCF and USF. Exploring all options, she is applying to other schools, as well.

FLA Scholars Visit Goshen College

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Three of our Future Leaders Academy scholars were recently invited to visit Goshen College in Indiana.

Thanks to the sponsorship of the college and the support of Gilberto Perez, Jr. and Rachel Smucker, our talented students Laura Orjuela, Fany Benitez, and Joana Gonzalez, along with our Director of Education, Hector Tejeda, visited the school in November.

The students truly enjoyed the opportunity and the many different activities and classes they attended. They were also amazed by the hospitality of the people on campus.

“Goshen College gave me the best insight on the benefits of attending a small college,” Laura Orjuela noted.

And Joana Gonzalez stated, “It was a great experience to see how small a college could be and how culture and everyday life in another part of America is different from life in Sarasota.”

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Future Leaders Academy (FLA): Ongoing Parent Engagement

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UnidosNow recently convened a group of parents of our summer FLA scholars who are, now, in their senior year. The goal of the meeting was to provide follow-up and to support their efforts to help their children complete college applications. We were thrilled to learn how engaged the parents are in the process! We are here to offer them additional tools, encouragement, and support, as they work with their children to meet deadlines and benchmarks that will ensure college entrance.

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