Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce leads partnership effort with the School Board of Alachua County, United Way of North Central Florida and Publix to provide school supplies to local students in need

Recently, the Alachua County Education Compact gave more than $22,000 in school supplies to Alachua County Public Schools. The supplies were donated for use in the School District’s
21st Century Learning Centers (21st CCLC), which operate in 12 schools. The supplies were part of a lot of school supplies originally donated by Publix to the United Way of Central Florida. Both the United Way of North Central Florida and the Alachua County School District are represented by signers of the Alachua County Education Compact.

Thank you for making it possible for our students to receive the wonderful supplies. Irby’s students are in Kindergarten through Second Grade and they love to color and draw. They have been very excited about the big boxes of crayons. The other supplies will be very helpful during homework time. We really appreciate your generosity and kindness.

Joan Imler
Media Aide | Site Tech
21st Century Co-Coordinator
Irby Elementary

“The Compact’s donation to students served by 21st Century Learning Centers is a perfect representation of how the Compact is designed to work,” said Compact Steering Committee Chair Dug Jones, who also serves as Associate Vice President for Economic Development for Santa Fe College. “As the Compact’s lead entity, the Chamber’s connection to business, community, and education worked to the benefit of these students by facilitating a contribution via an existing collaboration.”

The Alachua County Education Compact is formulated as a “Collective Impact model.” That is, it represents the Compact signers’ commitment to a common agenda for addressing a single specific issue: aligning education opportunities with industry needs to create pathways to success for Alachua County students. Additionally, a Collective Impact model calls for a single organization or entity to function as a “backbone organization” to lead and staff the initiative’s activities.

I would like to take a minute to say thank you. The supplies are greatly appreciated and needed. The supplies were needed and will be used. The students will have to supplies to complete homework and other projects.

Sylenia Browning
21st Coordinator
Lake Forest Elementary

The Chamber undertook this role when the Compact was signed and continues to execute in that capacity through leadership of initiatives such as Career Discoveries, FAFSA Night, as well as its donation to the County School system and others. Collectively, the Compact has touched more than 1,500 students, parents, businesses, educators, guidance counselors and community members.

“Our 21st Century students will certainly benefit from this generous donation,” said Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Clarke. “We’ve had the pleasure of working with the Education Compact since it was established, and it’s been very effective at bringing the community together partners and leveraging local resources to support education.”

The district’s 21st CCLC after-school programs provide students with academic support, recreation, and other enrichment activities to promote their success both in and out of school.

On behalf of the students and staff of 21st CCLC at Idylwild Elementary, we would like to send a huge HUG of THANKS to you for donating these much-needed supplies to our program.  We are so grateful and cannot wait to put the supplies to great use for our students.  Thank you very much! 😉

Lilliemarie A. Gore
4th Grade Teacher
Idylwild Elementary

“Our mission is to positively impact the eduction, health and financial stability of people living in this region,” said United Way of North Central Florida President/CEO Deborah Bowie. “We are so pleased that our role as a partner to the Chamber and a signer of the Alachua County Education Compact has facilitated an immediate use for these school supplies–which were so generously donated to us by Publix prior to the beginning of the school year–that will assist children today instead of leaving them packed away until next school year.”

I just received the shipment of supplies that you were kind enough to donate to the 21st Century program at Alachua Elementary School. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity. Our students will benefit so much from having access to a wealth of supplies this year. It’s people like you who give our most vulnerable students one more reason to be successful. We are truly appreciative.

Renee Long
4th Grade Teacher/21st Century Site Coordinator
Alachua Elementary School

Since 2015, the Compact has continued to garner support and gain momentum. It has added two signers and made great strides in aligning the 28 signers’ resources and activities to support the six goals, including:

  • Career Discoveries Day, which provides a forum for students and parents to interact with businesses and education institutions to identify career pathways.
  • FAFSA Night at Eastside High, which assists students and parents in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to connect them to financial resources that mitigate-or sometimes eliminate-costs associated with attending college.
  • Collaboration with the Santa Fe College Blount Center Advisory Council to help low-income students navigate classes at Santa Fe College.
  • Support and enhancement of high-quality teaching and learning through the provision of training to guidance counselors in the Alachua County Public School District.
  • Support for community and policy initiatives that advance school programs, such as the One Mill for Alachua County Public Schools, as well as school infrastructure, such as i3 (The Chamber’s Putting Children First Infrastructure Investment Initiative).
  • Support for SWAG’s (South West Advocacy Group) efforts to establish a Children’s Service Advisory Committee in Alachua County.

This year, the Compact has focused on prioritizing the development and use of a community asset map, a system and process for metrics and data collection, an evolved structure to support its mission and goals, and an action plan to keep signers engaged in advancing Phase I goals.

It is around this time of year that people start to talk about things that they are thankful for.

Today I am thankful for you, Mr. Fletcher.

Thank you so much for the generous donation of supplies. Metcalfe is considered one of the “high needs” schools in Alachua County. Your support and donations make such a HUGE difference in programs like 21st Century. These supplies will be used throughout the school year and will be given to the students who are in need.

Thank you for thinking of Metcalfe Elementary!
Thank you for making a difference!

Brandy Bradshaw
21st Century Director
Metcalfe Elementary