Anne Eason, Ph.D., a longtime LEAP Tampa Bay volunteer, was honored at last night’s Tampa Bay Lightning game as a Lightning Community Hero. The distinction comes with a $50,000 grant from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, which Anne will donate to LEAP Tampa Bay through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
As a clinical psychologist, Anne helps her clients work through some of life’s toughest challenges. But her work outside of her practice is equally important to her – and our community. Over the years she has .invested countless hours to a number of organizations, all with a focus on helping young people achieve a brighter future. Most recently, she has championed the concept of “college and career centers” in our area high schools. In 2012, with her daughter enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Tampa’s Robinson High School – a school with more than 40% of its students eligible for free or reduced lunch – Anne was inspired to provide hope to young people who lacked the resources her own children enjoyed. She and a fellow parent presented the idea to create the school’s first college and career center.
From writing the training materials for a team of more than 20 volunteers, to meeting with students one-on-one in the high school-based resource center, she has made it her mission to better prepare students for life after high school. Since completing a Federal Financial Aid form is one of the top predictors of college enrollment, Anne made FAFSA Completion a benchmark at the Cube, and Robinson High School has been near the top of all schools in Hillsborough for its FAFSA Completion rates since 2012 – usually approaching 70% annually. Robinson is also now a top school in the district for completion of college applications.
When the LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network launched in 2016, she engaged immediately to share her Robinson High experience. Very quickly, her advice turned to how she could help
champion Robinson’s college and career center program into a prototype for other schools in the area. Through her leadership, she has helped leverage this one school’s success into a program that will be implemented at nearly 20 more Tampa Bay area schools over the next 5 years.
Anne was the 22nd Lightning Community Hero honored this season. The program, which began in 2011, recognizes “grassroots Heroes” who make a difference in the greater Tampa Bay community. Congratulations, Anne!