Lois Gomez, mentor coordinator, and Tricia Yeggy, director of programs, in Tallahassee.
In February, The Immokalee Foundation sent several staff members to Tallahassee to participate in the annual Take Stock in Children (TSIC) statewide conference. Through the Immokalee chapter of TSIC, we currently work with more than 100 students who are on the path to a college career and a successful life.
Tricia Yeggy, TIF’s director of programs and one of the staff members who made the trek to Tallahassee, took a few minutes to share the ten best things she learned at this year’s conference.
1). We learned best practices for program management, student advocacy, and mentor coordination.
2). We were exposed to exciting ideas about mentor recruitment and retention.
3). We found out that TSIC is grant recipient of the government’s Investing in Innovation Fund (also called I3) — a great show of confidence in the program and a tremendous indication of the program’s success.
4). We spent time exploring the similarities between rural and urban at-risk children.
5). We ran into numerous members of the state legislature — and we were very pleased to learn that many of them are interested in learning more about/advocating for the program.
6). We realized that it’s not just the children in TIF’s TSIC program that are articulate and inspiring — TSIC students around the state are equally as impressive and inspiring. So many children are living testaments to the power of mentors and value of having the opportunity to discover their passions.
7). We learned that graduation rates from college are 22% across the nation — dishearteningly low. Compare that to a 59% TSIC statewide college graduation rate.
8). We were told that Florida Prepaid Project STARS scholarships — which are scholarships matching state dollars to TSIC’s scholarship purchases — are looking at a 40% reduction in this year’s state budget. This means we need to prepare ourselves for very real challenges to our ability to help the children of Immokalee in the year (or years) ahead.
9). We celebrated the fact that TSIC and the Asofsky Family Foundation have partnered to offer the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship to deserving TSIC scholars. There is a lengthy application process for this fellowship, but the children that earn the fellowship (there were five winners this year) receive a $40,000 fellowship that pays for all of the soft costs associated with a college education: books, housing, fees, computer, etc.
10). And finally, we were thrilled to find out that TIF board member Joe Zednik was elected to the TSIC state board. It’s tough to express how honored we are to have such an important member of the TIF community on TSIC’s state board.