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Florida receives $15 million for federal AmeriCorps education projects

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In an upbeat conference call, statewide education officials — including Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and Wendy Spencer of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service — announced that Florida will be the recipient of $15.4 million for AmeriCorps-led education projects. The officials said that figure will be matched by local dollars to bring the total to more than $30 million.

“As Florida’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service, we are thrilled to announce this funding for Florida schools and students,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman.  “We are grateful for CNCS’ investment in the Sunshine State, and we appreciate the support of Governor Scott and Commissioner Stewart, who have truly been champions for education.”

Spencer led a presentation breaking down a slew of statistics related to voluntarism and Florida education, including how the new funding will be disbursed.

Among those bottom-line numbers were $6 million going to Volunteer Florida to be spent at the discretion of Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration, as well as $5.7 million in competitively drawn-down funds for specific projects in Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami. They include, per a news release:

  • University of North Florida—Jacksonville Teacher Residency: AmeriCorps members will use mentor teaching to bolster student engagement and increase educational attainment in STEM education in high-need schools in Jacksonville.  ($369,258 grant; 30 members)
  •  City Year Jacksonville: AmeriCorps members will provide in-school and after-school tutoring and support to at-risk third- through ninth-grade students, resulting in improvements in academic achievement, behavior, and school attendance. Members will serve in 10 high-need public schools in Jacksonville. ($1,120,568 grant; 100 members)
  • Teach for America Miami: Members will serve as full-time teachers in over 35 low-income schools in Miami-Dade County to improve the educational outcomes for over 22,000 students.  ($154,400 grant, 193 AmeriCorps members)
  • City Year Miami: AmeriCorps members will provide in-school and after-school tutoring and mentoring to 9th-10th grade students, resulting in increased numbers of students staying in school and on track to graduate. The program will serve six high schools in Miami-Dade. ($776,530 grant, 67 members)
  • Communities in Schools of Miami—AmeriCorps Student Turnaround Project: AmeriCorps members provide tutoring, mentoring and wraparound support services to increase educational achievement in five low-performing Miami-Dade County public schools. ($247,060 grant; 35 members)
  • City of Orlando—O-PASS: Under the Governor’s/Mayor’s Initiative, AmeriCorps members will provide in-school and after-school tutoring, mentoring, and wrap-around support services to low-income students resulting in increased education achievement levels for students. The program will serve 16 community centers and public middle schools in Orlando. ($404,305 grant; 32 AmeriCorps members)
  • City Year Orlando: AmeriCorps members will provide academic services that support students in improving academic performance and engagement at nine public schools in Orlando.  ($560,284 grant, 50 members), and
  • Operation AmeriCorps Orlando: Orlando’s Operation AmeriCorps program, one of just 10 in the nation, will engage 160 AmeriCorps members over two years in providing in-school and out-of-school support to students and ensure they go onto one of five opportunities: college, service in the military, AmeriCorps national service, a job or paid internship.  ($2,139,302 over two years; 160 members over 2 years)

Spencer in particular called Orlando a “big winner” amid the news. The city was one of just 10 out of 70 to win federal dollars to fund projects based on a comprehensive submission led by city municipal and school officials.

The news augured a “great new day” in Florida education, Commissioner Stewart said, despite recent problems with standards testing and a mixed bag of results in national rankings, “Our state’s students are ranked among the best in the nation, evidence that our investment in education is truly paying off.”

This is a phenomenal opportunity for Florida’s students, and I am proud for DOE to partner with Volunteer Florida and the Corporation for National and Community Service on this collaborative effort.”

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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