United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast and CareerEdge have partnered to create Career Quest - a career exploration and college savings program for low-income rising high school juniors in Sarasota County, with plans to expand into Pinellas County.
Brynne Radcliffe is one of the participants this summer. A Boys and Girls Club member, she joined Gilbane Building Company. She was immediately immersed in the company culture assisting Gilbane's Senior Project Engineer with management duties and plan logs, attending subcontractor and owner meetings, documenting meeting minutes, learning to read plans, and assisting with field inspections and safety audits. Her supervisor, David LaCamera, said, “She even brought her own steel-toed work boots to the job from day one.” Gilbane was ecstatic to have such a great addition to the team for the summer, adding that internships provide a good way to expose students to skills in business and personal growth. Brynne gained valuable experience and earned money to put towards her college savings account. CareerEdge and United Way Suncoast hope to help more youth find great career exploration opportunities like this.
The pilot program has the following components:
• Matched College Savings Account - opened for each participating student through a partnership with SunTrust Bank. Students saving a minimum of $25 per month during their junior and senior years in high school will have up to $500 of their savings matched 4-to-1 through both a private match, and the federal government Assets for Independence program. If they save $25 per month for two years, graduating seniors can have a minimum of $2500 available for their post-secondary education. Matched savings are paid directly to the higher education institution, whether a 2- or 4-year degree or a technical college certification program.
• Paid internship opportunity at partner organizations - Students are paid minimum wage or higher and work approximately 20 hrs./week for 6-8 weeks over the summer in high demand sectors such as Healthcare, Manufacturing, Construction, IT, Financial Service, or Transportation. Employers are reimbursed up to $1,000 per intern.
• Financial Literacy classes - provided by United Way Suncoast and mentor organizations such as Unidos Now, Girls Inc., Take Stock in Children, Boys & Girls Club, Big Brother Big Sisters and Y-Achievers. Topics include banking, budgeting, money management, credit analysis, college savings, and filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The Career Quest pilot is made possible by grant funding from the following organizations: Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation and Community Foundation of Sarasota County through the Florida Philanthropic Network’s matching “CASI” (College Access & Success Initiative) Grant, which is a partnership with Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.