As one of 13 local college access networks in Florida, LEAP Tampa Bay is working to provide greater educational opportunities to residents of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and in turn, build a stronger, more-competitive workforce and regional economy. Launched in 2016, LEAP Tampa Bay’s cross-sector network of community partners has a goal to increase the number of working age adults in Tampa Bay with a degree or high-quality certificate to 60 percent by 2025.

As our regional economy grows, businesses will need more qualified employees to ensure their future success. Many of the fastest growing jobs in our region require education beyond high school. Yet, according a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey, Tampa Bay ranked 19th or 20th out of 20 U.S. markets in earning college degrees. Shortages of skilled workers are already affecting some industries in Tampa Bay, like construction and technology.

By increasing the number of people achieving a post-secondary education, we can develop a larger pool of qualified talent in Tampa Bay.

To accomplish our goal, much of our work focuses on breaking down barriers to attaining a degree, such as cost. By providing easier access to grants, scholarships and tuition reimbursement and supporting clear pathways to degree completion, people who thought college was out of reach can get the resources and support they need.

Our top initiatives include:

  • Supporting the timely and smooth completion of a degree through the FUSE college transition program, which provides guaranteed admission to the University of South Florida for students attending eight local state colleges, including Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg College.
  • Improving FAFSA completion. During our first year, LEAP volunteers, working with school district partners, helped increase the number of completed federal financial aid applications and increased local student grants by an estimated $3 million.
  • Identifying resources locally and nationally that can benefit potential students and helping fill gaps in the information that is available.
  • Spreading the word about those resources and the work of LEAP Tampa Bay by communicating through our website, traditional and social media, etc.
  • Leveraging data to develop benchmarks and performance goals for the future.

Our success depends on the involvement of individuals and businesses throughout Tampa Bay. There are many ways to get involved, from advocating for education, to making a gift or volunteering. Learn more>>