Alachua County Education Compact Strengthens Leadership and Streamlines Approach

May 2, 2017

In support of advancing under a “Collective Impact” model, the Alachua County Education Compact (ACEC) has combined the initiative’s two, former leadership groups—the ACEC Stewardship Council and the Chamber’s Talent Alignment and Education Committee—into one body. Under the leadership of Chair Dug Jones, Santa Fe College’s Vice President of Economic Development, the Leadership Council will govern the initiative going forward. Combining the two groups, which were formerly and separately responsible for strategy and resources is a first step toward increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Compact.

As a “Collective Impact” model, the Compact represents the 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. The Collective Impact model also calls for a shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities and a single organization or entity to function as a “backbone organization,” to staff and manage the initiative’s activities. The Chamber undertook the role of serving as the backbone organization when the Compact was signed and has spent nearly two years facilitating a process that has resulted in the signers’ agreement on a common agenda to achieve six goals that would ensure that all students graduate from high school, are prepared for college and/or career success, have access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers, and develop healthy lifestyle habits, appreciation for the arts and a sense of social responsibility.

Moving forward, the Council will approach the Compact’s work in two phases. For phase I, the Compact will focus on the first three goals: ensuring all students graduate from high school; have access to and are prepared for college and/or career success, and have access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers. Phase I success will be defined by twenty-one separate measures—including rates of graduation, promotion, attendance, and kindergarten readiness; advanced course enrollment and exam passage rates; college readiness, acceptance, and enrollment rates; career-technical education certifications and credits; and more. Additionally, the Compact will be implementing a consultant’s recent recommendations to prioritize the development and implementation 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.

The Chamber has also formed the Human Capital Foundation, which raised more than $15,000 in 2016 and will continue to lead fundraising efforts to ensure the Compact’s activities can be properly resourced.

Look for upcoming future updates on the Compact and its progress over the last two years.

Alachua County Schools Finish FAFSA Challenge on a High Note

April 4, 2017

A final group of high school seniors and their parents attended the last night of the 2017 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Challenge on March 28 at Buchholz High School.

The Florida College Access Network— represented in Alachua County by the Alachua County Education Compact— issued the Florida FAFSA Challenge statewide in September 2016 with a goal of

boosting the proportion of public high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by at least five percent over the last school year. The challenge was issued locally by the Alachua County Education Compact–which serves as the official chapter for the Florida College Access Network in Alachua County and is staffed by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Santa Fe College Associate Vice President of Economic Development Dug Jones

attended to represent the Compact’s Leadership Council, which he serves as Chair. Two of the six goals of the Alachua County Education Compact focus on ensuring all students are prepared for college and/or career success and have access to pathways to sustainable jobs and careers. A metric that contributes to our measurement of our progress in these areas is the “college-going” rate.

“The assistance that will be provided to students and parents tonight directly impacts that measure by removing a financial barrier to college attendance for students who have been accepted to a college or are eligible for acceptance, but are unable to afford to pay tuition,” Jones said.

This event provided a final boost to an extremely successful effort executed by guidance counselors at seven Alachua County Public High Schools. The schools have held multiple FASFA night events since the Florida College Access Network—represented in Alachua County by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce—issued a September 2016 challenge to schools to increase FAFSA completions by five percent. Alachua County’s seven participating schools have exceeded that goal, increasing the number of completed applications by eight percent as of March 10, 2017. FAFSA forms completed after March 10—including those completed at the March 28 event—will further elevate the percentage by which Alachua County schools have exceeded last year’s FAFSA Completion Rate.

Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million each year in Pell Grants. Increasing the number of FAFSA forms completed by Alachua County students is a strong indicator that the number of those students who attend college will also increase.

View the CBS 4 Story here.

Attention High School Seniors and Parents: Attend Final Financial Aid Night of the Florida FAFSA Challenge

March 21, 2017

High School seniors and their parents are encouraged to attend the final FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Night of the 2017 FAFSA Challenge. The event will be held on March 28th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Buchholz High SchoolMedia Center, located at 5510 NW 27th Avenue. School counselors and financial aid representatives from Santa Fe College and the University of Florida will be on hand to help families complete FAFSA forms.

Families should bring:

  • Social security number(s)
  • Drivers’ license (if any)
  • Alien registration or permanent resident card(if not a U.S. Citizen)
  • W-2 tax form and other records of money earned
  • Federal income tax return for 2015 (if not completed yet, bring 2014 return) Foreign tax return (if any)
  • Untaxed income records
  • Bank Statements
  • Other investment records

This event will mark the end of an extremely successful effort executed by guidance counselors at seven Alachua County Public high schools. The schools have held multiple FASFA night events since the Florida College AccessNetwork—represented in Alachua County by the Gainesville Area Chamber ofCommerce—issued a September 2016 challenge to schools to increase FAFSA completions by five percent. Nearly a month prior to the final event, Alachua County’s seven participating schools had exceeded that goal, increasing the number of completed applications by six-percent.

Students are encouraged to wear their college colors!

District 1 Business Council Presents: Learn About Business Opportunities With The University of Florida

March 14, 2017

The District 1 Business Council invites you to attend a session tomorrow, March 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. to learn about business opportunities with the University of Florida from Keynote Speaker Kathey Porter, Director of The Small

Business & Vendor Diversity Relations Division of the University of Florida. This event will be held at the UF Eastside Campus at 20146 Waldo Rd.

The Small Business & Vendor Diversity Relations Division (SBVDR) is responsible for overseeing the University’s Supplier Diversity Program which focuses on ensuring equal access for Small/HUB Zone/Minority/Small Disadvantaged/Veteran/Service- Disabled Veteran/& Women-Owned businesses, by providing them equal opportunity to compete for procurement and contracting opportunities at the University. The division works with the various colleges and departments at the University to increase awareness and to help identify opportunities for small businesses. The office endeavors to seek out, identify and utilize a diverse supply of qualified vendors interested in providing the many services and products required by the University. Click here to register.

A Day in the Life: Gator Shadow Day Spring 2017

March 14, 2017

The UF Career Resource Center (CRC) is inviting local employers to host a job shadow student at their workplace. Take this unique opportunity to showcase your field, organization, and any job/internship openings to UF students!

Gator Shadow Day
April 21st- Gainesville

Job shadowing provides students with a glimpse into the daily activities of a profession or career that interests them and serves as a valuable way to introduce talent to your field and organization.

We invite you to join us by registering to host a student or contacting Jaime Harsell, Assistant Director for Professional Development and Experience, at Deadline to register is March 27th.

Seven Alachua County Public High Schools Exceed Goal to Make College Affordable for High School Seniors

March 7, 2017

Guidance counselors at seven Alachua County public high schools have risen to a challenge issued via the Florida College Access Network’s Florida FAFSA Challenge in September. The FAFSA Challenge strives to boost the proportion of public high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by at least 5% over last school year. Together, the seven Alachua County high schools have increased the number of completed applications by six percent, exceeding the goal nearly a month ahead of the challenge’s March 31 end.

“Over the last three years we’ve seen a growing number of schools, districts and communities working together to help their students make college more affordable,” said Troy Miller, Florida CAN’s associate director for research and policy. “It’s great to see that all their hard work is making a difference for students across the state.” Florida’s collective efforts to boost FAFSA completion are having an impact: Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps students need to take to access college or career school. Students

must complete the form to qualify for federal financial aid programs to pay for their college expenses. Yet according to Florida CAN’s research, each year Florida’s high school graduates leave behind more than $100 million in Pell Grants alone because they do not fill out the form.

In early April, the Florida College Access Network will announce and celebrate the top-performing schools and districts in the state. To see which schools and districts are currently leading this year’s Florida FAFSA Challenge, including the schools with the highest and most improved rates, check out the Florida FAFSA Challenge leaderboard.

Creating Excellence in Education: A Town Hall on Ending Racial Disparities in Our Local Schools

February 28, 2017

The Education Task Force invites you to a town hall on ending racial disparities in our local schools. Students and children are welcome! This discussion will take place on March 6, 2017, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church (2508 NE 8th Avenue, Gainesville, Fl.) For more information email

Eastside High School Seeking Volunteers for Hidden Figures Field Trip

February 14, 2017

Dr. Edwards, the Assistant Principal at Eastside High School, are seeking volunteers to chaperone and/or lead a breakout session for the movie Hidden Figures. They plan to take 100 9th grade girls to see the movie on Friday, February 17th, from 8:30 am – 2:40 pm. The breakout session will be between 1:35 pm to 2:40.

If you are interested and are available to participate, please contact Dr. Edwards at

Field Trip to View Hidden Figures
Private Screening at Regal Cinemas 14
February 17, 2017

8:30 Students go to first-period class
8:50 Call students to the bus loop
9:15 Leave for Movie Theatre
10:00 Movie begins
12:25 Movie ends
12:40 Leave for EHS
1:00 Arrive on campus, go to cafeteria for lunch
1:30 Go to auditorium for post-movie discussion
1:35-1:45 Introduction/directions
1:45-2:15 Breakout Sessions (groups of 8-10)
2:15-2:35 Whole Group Summary/Feedback
2:40 School Dismissal

Education Foundation Mentor Recruitment

February 7, 2017

The Education Foundation of Alachua County’s Take Stock in Children program is looking for volunteer mentors!

Take Stock in Children provides support to low-income, at-risk students in our community by providing them with case management, academic support, and a volunteer mentor. If the students maintain academic standards, stay drug-and crime-free and meet with their mentor regularly, then upon graduation from high school, they receive a college scholarship. Over the past few years, this program has grown to include over 330 students. Students enrolled in Take Stock in Children have a 96% high school graduation rate!

One of the biggest and most important components of Take Stock in Children is our mentors. We ask our mentors to visit their students on school property (typically during the student’s lunch or sometimes before school if it works for the student and mentor’s schedule) once per week or at least 3 times per month. Meetings typically last 30 minutes.

We try to maintain a balance between letting the mentors develop their own personal relationship with their student and providing materials to support the mentor/student relationship. For instance, mentors are provided with training, tool kits and activities they can to do with their students, but they aren’t required to do those specific activities. Take Stock in Children mentors aren’t tutors (although we do provide them with their student’s report card each 9 weeks) but we do want them to support their student in academics, since this program results in a college scholarship. At the core, mentors are there to be a stable adult in the student’s life. To let that student know that they are there for them, help them navigate middle and high school, both socially and academically.

If this is something you are interested in, staff members from The Education Foundation are tabling on Wednesday, February 1st, from 4 – 7 pm. at Patticakes downtown and would love to talk to you! The first 10 people to stop by and sign up to mentor will receive a $10 gift card to Patticakes! For more information, email