Volunteers at a LEAP 4 College center

Opening today at Largo High School and later this spring at Armwood High School in Seffner, LEAP 4 College Centers will offer personalized college and career planning assistance to students.

Trained volunteers will help students identify career interests and navigate the options for education and training after high school. Students can get help with tasks like filling out financial aid forms, searching for scholarships, completing college applications and writing admissions essays. Volunteers – many parents of students at the school – have also been trained to help students who are exploring possibilities like career technical training, apprenticeships or the military.

The centers are modeled after a successful college and career resource center called “The Cube,” which was started by a team of volunteers at Robinson High School in Tampa six years ago. Thanks to the collaboration of dedicated Cube volunteers and the school’s college and career counselor, Robinson is now regularly recognized as one of the top schools in the district for completion of college applications and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Cube and other parent volunteers have participated significantly in the piloting of this concept in new schools. The first schools were carefully selected by district leaders, according to Chuck Tiernan, director of LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network. Both the Pinellas and Hillsborough districts are founding partners of the network, and their staff support has been instrumental in launching the new resource centers.

The LEAP 4 College Center pilot program is financially supported by a grant from the Florida College System Foundation in support of the Rise To 55 Initiative, which – like LEAP Tampa Bay – aims to grow the number of working age adults holding a college degree or workforce credential.

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