Impressive $5M i3 Grant Awarded to Take Stock in Children
The Take Stock in Children (TSIC) program in Highland’s County was recently selected as one of three in the state to receive the U.S. Dept of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant. This $5 million i3 grant will be split between three counties in Florida: Highlands, Monroe, and Broward. These three counties will become models for other TSIC programs in rural, sub-urban, and urban counties throughout the state. The funding for this grant begins immediately through Sept. 30, 2013.
The i3 grant supports innovative programs that have attained a record of improving student achievement and attainment. It will allow TSIC to expand its program to decrease dropout rates, increase high school graduation rates, and increase college enrollment and completion rates. According to Don Appelquist, executive director, SFCC Foundation, Inc., this grant will enable TSIC to answer the question of what happens to TSIC students after graduation from high school. The i3 grant allows TSIC to follow program participants through their first three terms of college and provide support to aid in college success.
This i3 grant benefits multiple entities by: allowing more TSIC students to be chosen for scholarships, to provide the state with accurate statistics on college success, and to provide funds to hire additional staff for the program. TSIC will hire four additional positions in the near future: college enrollment and retention advocate (CERA), TSIC mentor coordinator, and two additional student advocates.
TSIC in Highlands County received this grant because of its exemplary success at providing deserving low-income children in the community with scholarships to colleges or vocational schools and guidance from caring mentors. Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto counties currently have a collective 134 active TSIC student scholarships with an average grade point average of 3.46. 201 TSIC have graduated from high school and pursued a college degree with help from their TSIC scholarship. Irene Castanon, coordinator, Take Stock in Children, has been part of the TSIC program for almost seven years. “The key to a successful program is to be constantly caring and determined to help the students succeed,” she said. Take Stock in Children’s success shows in its statistics: TSIC high school graduation rate is 42 percent higher than Florida’s average, and 61 percent higher than its at-risk peer group.
TSIC is a joint effort of the Highlands County School Board, the South Florida Community College (SFCC) Foundation, and the many citizens who help fund the program and volunteer to serve as student mentors. The SFCC Foundation, Inc. serves as the lead agency for Take Stock in Children in its service area of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties. For more information or to become a Take Stock mentor, call 863- 784-7343.