2018 Career Discoveries Day

he Chamber’s Alachua County Education Compact (ACEC), Santa Fe College, and Alachua County Public Schools partner to host the 4th Annual Career Discoveries Day on Saturday, October 13, at Eastside High School from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. located at 1201 SE 43rd Street, Gainesville, Florida 32641

Career Discoveries Day is a three-hour workshop that offers middle and high school students and their parents information for career pathways to college and career readiness opportunities. Career Discoveries Day offers students the chance to learn more about exciting career options in Alachua County. Students will get to hear from a keynote and industry speakers and get a chance to ask questions to vendors about their industry sector career opportunity.  The keynote for this year’s event is New York Times Best Selling Author and Eastside graduate, Nathan Whitaker (Through My Eyes with Tim Tebow and Quiet Strength with Tony Dungy). Past keynotes have been John Spence, Joe Cirulli, and Joleen Cacciatore Miller.

Everyone is welcomed to be a part of Career Discoveries Day.  Companies interested in tabling can register at https://members.gainesvillechamber.com/events/details/gainesville-chamber-s-acec-career-discoveries-day-6835

Students and parents interested in attending can register athttps://careerdiscoveriesday.eventbrite.com

For more information about Career Discoveries, visit https://acedcompact.com/career-discoveries/

Junior Achievement /Eastside High School Job Shadow at Mindtree

18 bright students from Eastside High School attended a JA Job Shadow at Mindtree Ltd today, where they learned about the company and careers, heard from the Agile Team, toured the facility, played the Marshmallow Challenge & learned KanBan. Plus lunch in the cafeteria! Thank you to our Mindtree hosts, Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce & Alachua County Education Compact for this exceptional opportunity!

Eastside High School Laptop Donation

GRU and CH2M Partner through ACEC to Buy New Laptops for EHS Students
On January 18, 2018, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) and CH2M (now Jacobs) presented six new laptop computers to Eastside High School for student use. The partnership was brought about through the Alachua County Education Compact (ACEC), formed by the Chamber after meeting with educators and chamber leaders from Los Angeles to learn about their education compact.
The partnership between the three organizations will help bridge the digital divide and provide positive reinforcement for academic excellence in students who may not have access to technology at home.
Funding is provided through CH2M’s Bikes-n-Bytes, an employee-sponsored program started in 2001 to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior and academics. To date, the program has donated 676 bikes and 147 computers, laptops and tablets to deserving youth at various schools, churches, and youth centers in north Florida.
CH2M has worked with GRU since 1973, helping plan, design, and oversee construction of their water and wastewater facilities.
“Education and employment opportunities go hand-in hand in any community,” said Susan Davenport, President/CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We formed the Alachua County Education Compact to build a bridge between area businesses and our educators — and to make these opportunities possible. We’re proud to have helped bring CH2M and GRU together to help these East Side High School students have more access to the tools and resources they need to succeed in business and life.”

Meet Your Hometown Educator TONIGHT!

Meet & Greet with Karen Clarke,
Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools
Tuesday, January 23 – 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Clarke, an educator with more than 25 years of experience, will join the Business Community for a conversation on Tuesday, January 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Clarke, raised in Alachua County, will talk about her goals and the challenges facing the school system from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Mark’s Prime Steakhouse, located at 201 SE 2nd Ave #102, Gainesville, FL 32601.
Clarke, educated by Alachua County Public Schools, Santa Fe College, and the University of Florida, is a lifelong resident of Alachua County and understands the challenges facing the students of Alachua County.
Karen is passionate about education and has worked with the Chamber’s Alachua County Education Compact.
Karen was the chair of the Chamber’s Alachua County Education Compact Strategy Development Committee, leading the group of volunteer educators and business professionals in the development of the six strategies for the Compact. The Chamber invites the business community to come out and meet and greet our superintendent, Karen Clarke.

The Compact Rethink Education

As the new year approaches, the Chamber’s Alachua County Education Compact continues to work collectively with our educational partners to build a bridge between the business community and our schools. We celebrate our 2017 accomplishments in partnering with businesses in our community.

The Alachua County Education Compact;

  1. Worked with the Reggae Shack, to sponsor East Side High School’s At-Risk Student/Parent dinner. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Six.
  2. Worked with Karen Clarke, who served as Deputy Superintendent at the time, to identify local businesses that would support student participation in the 2017 VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. We identified sponsors for more than 30 Alachua County Public School students. Eight teams, from J.J. Finley and Norton Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School, participated in the world championship. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy One.
  3. Sponsored a luncheon at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce for the five superintendent finalists. Also, 21 of 28 Compact Signers or member(s) of their organizations spent a half-day interviewing the superintendent finalists. These initiatives are supported by Compact Strategy Three.
  4. Worked with the Community Foundation of North Central Florida and Gift Certificates & More (GCM) to provide funding in support of the Early Learning Development and The Parent Academy training 112 staff members and gifting each staff member with a year’s subscription to GCM Plus. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Two.
  5. Participated in drafting the Director of Educational Equity’s position and participated on the interview panel. The Alachua County Public Schools invited ACEC to participate. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Two.
  6. Worked with Community Foundation of North Central Florida donated funds to reward our District Guidance Counselors achievement of a 12.1% increase in graduating seniors completing the Free Application Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Five.
  7. Worked with 4 Rivers Smokehouse provided meals for Eastside High Schools At Promise/ Risk dinners for students and their parents. Worked with Santa Fe College provided four-Asus Tablets for Guidance Counselors for Eastside High School. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Six.
  8. Worked with the United Way of North Central Florida donated over $22,000 in school supplies (from Publix Supermarket) to the Compact, who gave it to over 700 students in the Alachua County Public Schools 21st Century Community Learning Centers. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Six.
  9. Hosted the 2017 Career Discoveries Day which over 300-students and parents from middle/high school in attendance with over 40-vendors and breakout sessions leaders. This initiative is supported by Compact Strategy Five.

We look to rethink education in Alachua County in 2018 by introducing new programs like Youth Apprenticeship, Parental Workshop, Young Adult training, and Ed-U-Chat to our community. We ask our business community to continue to donate either their time, talent or treasure to a local school and help our teachers help our students towards the foundation skills they need to progress in this world.

In 2018, we will be working with our Compact Leadership Council to develop the Youth Apprenticeship program. The Youth Apprenticeship program modeled after the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce where students involved in the Youth Apprentice Program take their normal high school programs and also travel to Trident Technical College two to three days per week where they enrolled in dual credit classes in a specific area. The Parental Workshop modeled after Orange County California Business Council. Teaches parents how to navigate the education system, empowering parents to support their child from cradle to career, leading parents to become an advocate for their students, and

engage parents in career pathway preparation. The young adult training program developed by local advocates, the business community, and our educational institutions will identify students who are in need of pathway opportunities to the career of their future. Ed-U-Chat is a new community forum to lead discussions about education in our community.

2018, like any other year requires us to continue the progress of the Compact and working to ensure all students have an opportunity for upward mobility in life. The long-term sustainability of our business community is currently residing in one of the three institutions in our community. It is vital for the business community to get involved and join us as we work to ensure our students achieve success in the classroom and life.

Help Local Teachers by Funding Programs Designed by them for our Students

August 22, 2017

The Alachua County Education Foundation’s Find It Fund It Campaign kicked off on August 7th, and we are delighted to partner with them to spread the word about Find it Fund It. This interactive online portal for the Alachua County Public Schools allows teachers to post classroom needs, up to $1,500. When requests have been submitted and approved by the Education Foundation, teachers from our elementary, middle and high schools do their part by promoting their projects on social media and other outlets. Projects range from providing supplies for STEM projects to helping fund trips to competitions to purchasing curriculum materials for innovative classroom experiences—all the things that enrich our students’ learning.
Starting August 7 th and continuing through September 30 th (or until funds run out) any project that receives 50% of its funding from an outside source will receive matching funds from the Education Foundation.
Let’s help our teachers reach their goal to help our kids. Visit http://finditfunditflorida.com/alachua to see a list of projects by school, teacher and need. No donation is too small to make a difference. And when you make a donation, let us know so we can share it on our channels. Together we can help make this year one of the best for our students!
For more information about the Alachua County Education Foundation and Find It Fund it, visit: http://edfoundationac.org/find-it-fund-it/
The Gainesville Chamber is committed to engaging our business community to help provide the best possible education and training opportunities for our most precious asset—our children. With initiatives like The Alachua County Education Compact (ACEC), the community is mobilizing around education to better prepare students for higher education and sustainable careers.
The Alachua County Education Foundation’s primary mission is to invest in the future of Alachua County students. This not-for-profit philanthropic organization was founded in 1986 and is comprised of community leaders devoted to helping our kids succeed.

Alachua County Students and School District Win Top Awards

July 25, 2017

The Alachua County Public School District is one of just eight school districts across Florida to be named a winner of the 2017-2019 Florida Healthy School Gold Award by a coalition of state organizations focused on promoting healthy learning environments.

Those eight districts now join six others that currently have the coveted Gold level status. The designation lasts for two years and is based on an extensive list of criteria that cover health and physical education, health services, nutrition, counseling, school environment and family involvement, among others.

Alachua County students provided a strong showing at the national Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)  National Leadership Conference in Anaheim California. Caroline Chu, Ben Gao, Steven Li, William Lui and Stephen Rout from Buchholz High School received national recognition at the FBLA Awards of Excellence Program on earlier this month.

These awards were part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by FBLA-PBL that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to competitions, students immersed themselves in interactive workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and heard from motivational speakers on a broad range of business topics.

Alachua Among Counties with 12.5% Higher FAFSA Completion Rates

July 18, 2017

Counties supported by Local College Access Networks saw FAFSA (Federal Application for Free Student Aid) completion rates increase 12.5% higher than counties not supported by Local College Access Networks (LCAN).

The Alachua County Education Compact–which serves as the LCAN for Alachua County–last fall issued a local FAFSA Challenge as part of a larger nationwide effort. In response to the call, Jennifer Taylor, Supervisor of Guidance and Student Services led the efforts of guidance counselors at seven Alachua County Public High Schools to meet the goal of achieving a 5 percent increase. The counselors’ collective work paid off, increasing the number of completed applications by 9.6 percent, nearly twice the goal of the challenge.

Florida fared well overall in its response to the challenge, with the third-highest year-to-year increase of any state in the number of total Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filings during the 2016-17 school year, according to the National College Access Network.

The state’s 19% improvement trailed only Utah (33%) and Wyoming (22%).  Florida is the third most-populous state in the country, compared to Utah (30th) and Wyoming (51st, after D.C.). Read more here…



Santa Fe College Shores Up Plumbing Technology Talent

July 11, 2017

The Accelerated Plumbing Certificate Technology program at Santa Fe College is doing its part to provide the plumbing industry with able workers to meet the tremendous need for skilled plumbers in North Central Florida, the rest of the state and the nation.

The 11-month program trains students in the fundamentals of plumbing, beginning with lessons about the history of plumbing, said Robert Brown, the professor who teaches the class, which is held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the Charles R. Perry Construction Institute at SF College.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

“They first learn the technical, science and math part of the industry before moving on to the hands-on part of the industry,” said Brown, who has been involved in the plumbing industry for almost 50 years.

Brown has been the instructor of the plumbing apprenticeship program at SF College for 17 years and has been the instructor of the accelerated program since it was established several years ago.

According to Brown, plumbing industry experts say hundreds of qualified plumbers are needed in North Central Florida, at least 8,000 in Florida and approximately 80,000 nationwide.

The program costs about $3,300. Registration is ongoing for the next class that begins in August, Brown said. Those interested in enrolling in the program must have a high school diploma or GED.

Tom Mason, the program’s academic advisor, said local plumbing contractors involved with the Celebration Pointe construction development in southwest Gainesville approached SF College several years ago about creating a program to help train people to become plumbers faster than normal.

The college has had a plumbing apprenticeship program for many years. It requires students to attend night classes twice a week during the fall and spring semesters for about four years, while also working with plumbing companies to get on-the-job training during the day.

The apprenticeship program is sponsored by the Builders Association of North Central Florida.

Click here to the Gainesville Sun article  

Changing Public Education through Partnership

June 27, 2017

Several key community organizations have partnered to improve the education and lives of students at Howard Bishop Middle School, which just completed its first year as a Community Partnership School. The Community Partnership School model utilizes the collective impact of four major partners– the Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS), Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS), the University of Florida (UF), Santa Fe College (SF), and the Alachua County Health Department (ACHD). These entities have joined together in a 25-year Memorandum of Understanding to become one effective agent of change to provide services and opportunities for Howard Bishop Middle School  The pooled resources of these partners will be utilized to meet the needs of Howard Bishop Middle School students, families, faculty/staff, and community members, including extended services, hours, and relationships.

According to Howard Bishop Principal Mike Gamble, teachers at the school would previously dip into their own pockets or closets to graciously support students’ unmet basic needs. Now, the Community Partnership School provides these services for free including snack and meal assistance, mental health counseling, academic enrichment opportunities, clothing assistance and emergency support.

Through a detailed community needs assessment and input from Howard Bishop administration, the Community Partnership School has outlined two current goals. The primary goal remains to provide academic assistance allowing for growth amongst the lowest quartile of students, especially in the areas of reading and math, as well as allow students who have been retained catch up with their cohort. The second goal is to deliver mental health counseling and social support to assist students, teachers, and families in managing their behaviors and demonstrating appropriate behavioral responses.

Faculty members see evidence of positive change in students’ behavior and performance.

“I have 3 students who I know are getting counseling through The Nest,” said Dr. Chloe Winant, Science Teacher. “I can see a difference in their attitudes and I can see a difference in their learning. And that is really awesome.  They might not have gotten that if they hadn’t gotten consistent therapy on a regular basis.”

The Community (Partnership) School will help us reach more people. In my position as the Dean, I am sometimes seen in only one role, discipline. Some of my initial interaction with parents is based on that type of situation. There have been times where I can see a mom that is struggling in other areas so it is good to be able to say “I know we are meeting about this, but let me give you a referral so you can go and talk to these people (The Nest) about that.” I like that a lot and it kind of makes my job easier. LaToya Lopez, School Dean

The Community Partnership School model is not new. Born out of Harlem, New York, during the 1970s the Community Partnership School model was first adopted in Florida by Evans High School in Orlando in 2012.  The results of this initiative at Evans are groundbreaking.  The school grade rose from an F to a B with graduation rates increasing from 64% to 80% in the span of four years.

Still, the process of implementing change through a Community Partnership School does not happen overnight. Both Mike Gamble and CHS Mid –Florida Executive Director, Jennifer Anchors, stress that the partnerships which will make the CPS successful require time and energy to cultivate.  And, like all long-term goals, the Community Partnership School requires time, patience and small steps to make a big difference.

Demonstrate your support of Howard Bishop Middle School, A Community Partnership School by serving as an in and out of school volunteer, mentor, after/out school provider, and/or providing a financial donation to provide tutoring/counseling.  Contact the Children’s Home Society of Mid-Florida today via email Tarcha.rentz@chsfl.org or at 352-334-0955.