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small logoSt. Petersburg College to receive $25,000 grant to help Expand Financial Education and Empowerment Programs

Achieving the Dream (ATD) and St. Petersburg College (SPC) today announced that SPC will receive $25,000 over a two-year period to expand and strengthen financial empowerment activities designed to strengthen students’ money management skills and knowledge.

The grant, funded by OneMain Holdings, Inc. and administered by Achieving the Dream, recognizes that students’ ability to manage their money, including financial aid, plays a significant role in students’ ability to persist and complete their studies. St. Petersburg College is one of the five community colleges in the ATD network that are receiving grants to launch or expand student financial empowerment efforts.

“One of the challenges students face is in making wise decisions regarding student loans, along with understanding the serious consequences of defaulting on their student loans,” said Michael Bennett, SPC’s Associate Vice President of Financial Assistance Services. “We are very excited to have been awarded this grant, especially during national Financial Literacy Month. The funds will go far in helping us educate students and provide much needed guidance on a peer-to-peer level.”

“As the largest personal finance company in the U.S., OneMain recognizes the significant need for greater financial education, especially within the country’s college student population,” said Sheldon Caplis, Director of Community Relations for OneMain. “OneMain is dedicated to supporting the communities in which we live and operate, and we are honored to expand our partnership with ATD to provide students with the critical financial empowerment tools necessary to achieve long-term collegiate, career and personal success.”

With the launch of the OneMain grant program to colleges, OneMain’s overall investment in building community college students’ financial skills to support greater persistence and academic achievement has reached nearly a half-million dollars.

“Helping students become knowledgeable, confident financial managers is a critical dimension of increasing student persistence and success,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “This award recognizes St. Petersburg College’s readiness to deepen the network of supports inside and outside the classroom that help students reach their goals.”

With the funds, St. Petersburg College will expand their current financial literacy efforts. It’s MY FUTURE! is a targeted program aimed at ensuring college students understand the financial implications of their decisions, the array of choices they have and the importance of debt management. Using the theme: “Smart loan choices today = financial freedom tomorrow,” SPC is seeking to reach a considerably larger audience and allow for more targeted and in-depth outreach.

According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2015, the average tuition and fee for students at public community colleges was $3,435. However, this figure represented only 20 percent of the annual budget of students who pay for off-campus housing. Other costs include transportation, food, and child care.

In addition, the percentage of first-time, full-time students at public two-year colleges who took out loans increased from 15 percent in 2000-2001 to 27 percent in 2012-2013, according to “The Condition of Education 2015,” published by the National Center for Education Statistics. The average amount of loans taken out by community college students also increased 52 percent from $3,200 to $4,900.

At the end of the two-year time period, ATD will release a toolkit informed by the participating colleges’ experiences launching or expanding financial empowerment efforts to help additional colleges seeking to launch or expand their own efforts to build students’ financial skills and knowledge. Each college also will develop and report on two measures of impact relevant to its specific activities.

About Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia– the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

About St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College (SPC) alumni rank first in the state of Florida for possessing the most valuable job skills. Founded in 1927, SPC is Florida’s first two-year college. Regionally accredited and nationally recognized, SPC was the first community college in Florida to offer bachelor’s degrees. SPC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including many high-demand, high-skill industry-recognized workforce certifications. The college’s career-focused curriculum is created with input from industry experts to give students real-world skills needed to meet the needs of today’s employers.

 

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Highly selective program designed to address critical need to improve student success

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Dr. Tonjua Williams, Sr. Vice President of Student Services

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Dr. Jesse Coraggio, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services

Dr. Tonjua Williams, Sr. Vice President of Student Services and Dr. Jesse Coraggio, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services have each been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., today announced that Williams and Coraggio join the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows, a diverse group of 40 extraordinary leaders with the drive and capacity to transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success.

Over the next decade, the majority of current community college presidents are expected to retire. At the same time, increasing numbers of students are flocking to community colleges to earn degrees that lead to good jobs, but too few actually graduate. The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence aims to equip college leaders with the tools they need to dramatically improve student outcomes.

The Fellowship is a highly selective year-long program to prepare leaders aspiring, or recently appointed, to the community college presidency. Fellows will participate in a series of innovative seminars and ongoing mentorship focused on a new vision for leadership, delivered in collaboration with Stanford University faculty and top community college leaders.

“All of us at SPC are deeply proud of Dr. Williams and Dr. Coraggio for their unwavering commitment to improving student success. They have made bold and strategic moves to tackle challenges facing students with unparalleled dedication to improving students’ lives,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “I think it speaks volumes that the Aspen Institute has chosen not one – but two – of our college’s valued leaders for this prestigious honor. When accomplishments like theirs are recognized, we all feel good!”

Williams and Coraggio were selected through a rigorous process that considered their abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

The 2016-2017 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 17 states and 30 community colleges of varying sizes and will begin their program in July 2016 at Stanford University with anticipated completion in

Spring 2017. Applications for the second class will be available by September 30, 2016. For more information, visit: http://aspeninstitute.org/pres-fellowship.

Both Williams and Coraggio said they felt extremely honored to be selected.

“I am humbled by this selection and look forward with enthusiasm to the opportunities this fellowship will provide for our college,” said Dr. Tonjua Williams.

“I am honored to be selected into the Aspen Presidential Fellowship program,” said Dr. Coraggio. “This selection for Dr. Williams and myself is a true testament to the college’s hard work and dedication to improving the lives of our students. I look forward to this valuable opportunity to work with, and learn from, college leadership from across the country.”

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

 

 

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IMG_4271St. Petersburg College student scholarship recipients had an opportunity to meet and thank their scholarship donors at the St. Petersburg College Foundation’s 17th annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday, March 31.

The event, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management, celebrated the awarding of more than $1.5 million in scholarships to more than 1,900 students during the college’s 2015-16 academic year.

With enthusiasm in her voice, SPC student Marissa Allen talked about how delighted she was to co-host the event with Veronica Cintron, news anchor for Bay News 9. Allen, who will be graduating in May with her Associate in Arts degree, proudly introduced her fellow scholarship recipients.

SPC student speakers Brenda Vargas, Timora Works and Courtney Kent expressed gratitude for their educational journey.

Vargas, an Associate of Arts student whose studies include an emphasis in both Communication and Business, told her story of overcoming challenges after moving to Florida from Mexico. Her mother’s words of wisdom, “Nothing good comes easy, and nothing easy comes good,” helped her persevere.

With the passing of her beloved sister, who inspired her educational journey, Works was determined to be a role model for her family. Without the support of the Foundation, she said, going to college would have been a struggle. This May she will be graduating with an Associate of Science in Business Administration. She plans to continue at SPC and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

“For those of you who thought they’ve fallen from grace, the SPC Foundation reminds me that’s not so,” Kent said.

As a 35-year-old college student, Kent expressed his appreciation for the Foundation’s role in his academic journey. He will be graduating this spring with an Associate in Arts and plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree in Applied Science in Management and Organizational Leadership at SPC.

Vargas was awarded the Gabe Cazares Memorial Scholarship. Allen received the Optimist Clubs of St. Petersburg Scholarship. Works was named the Florence Ballenger Scholarship recipient, while Kent was awarded the Helios Education Foundation First Generation Scholarship.

Throughout the event, SPC students Daniel Baillie and Alex Bonyata from SPC’s music department entertained donors and scholarship recipients.

Visit here for more information about the Foundation’s scholarships. Applications for  the 2016-17 academic year scholarships start April 4.

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Dr-T-Williams-Patriot-Award[1]Last fall when Capt. Dr. Eric Carver, a decorated Air Force veteran, found out he needed to attend an 11-day training for his service in the Air Force Reserve, he knew it might be a problem, as he was serving as the interim provost at St. Petersburg College’s Caruth Health Education Center. He went to his supervisor, Senior Vice President of Student Services Dr. Tonjua Williams, for approval. She didn’t bat an eye and assured him that she would make sure that his post at the center would be taken care of in his absence.

This inspired Carver to nominate her for the Patriot Award, which is presented by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense affiliate.

“She was supportive, caring and genuine – all the attributes of an effective executive leader,” Carver said.

On Feb. 29, Williams was surprised and honored to be presented the award during an event on the HEC campus.

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Tonjua Williams

“I was just floored,” she said. “It was a total surprise. As a college, SPC is very supportive of its employees. And I believe in what military personnel do, and I appreciate their sacrifice. I feel it is my duty to help them fulfill theirs.”

Carver said Williams deserves the award because she does a lot to serve veterans.

“She oversees Veterans Services for the college, and she supports my training as an Air Force Reserve officer. She sees my training as an asset to the college, because the more I learn, the more I can share.”

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SEMINOLE (March 24, 2016) – Two prominent Florida members of Congress and a colorful radio talk show host lead a line-up of national, state and local leaders who will offer innovative solutions to pressing policy issues facing the United States at the second annual New Ideas Conference, with honorary host and moderator Congressman David Jolly at St. Petersburg College (SPC).

The half-day conference, covering the topics of Veterans’ Welfare, Government Reform, and Emerging Threats of Terrorism, will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 8, at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. The conference is presented by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS), and is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Bright House Networks, Jabil, and Alakai Defense Systems.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to come together with national, state and local leaders to discuss, in a non-political and non-partisan forum, some of the most pressing issues facing our country today,” said Congressman Jolly (FL-13). “It’s this type of open dialogue and consensus building that can lead to real solutions.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham (FL-2), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, will lead the panel on “Emerging Threats of Terrorism.” She will be joined by Sri Sridharan, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida, and Katherine Bauer, former U.S. Treasury official who is now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, (FL-12) of Palm Harbor, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will lead the panel entitled “Veterans’ Welfare: Why Can’t We get It Right?” He will be joined by Blaze Radio Network anchor Doc Thompson, Boot Campaign Chief Operating Officer Johnny Joey Jones, and Medal of Honor Recipient Gary Litrell.

Speaking on the topic of “Government Reform: Getting Congress to Do Its Job” will be: former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis (FL-11), former U.S. Rep. Dan Miller (FL-13), and Tim Nickens, Editor of Editorials at the Tampa Bay Times.

“We are honored to work with Congressman Jolly to address challenging problems in this non-partisan, non-rancorous format,” said David Klement, Executive Director of The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. “Seeking solutions through consensus-building is at the heart of our democratic system – and the goal of all of our civic-engagement efforts at SPC.”

The event is open to the public and admission is free, but seating is limited. Registration is required at: http://solutions.spcollege.edu.

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Two of SPC students Mahir Abdella and Courtney Kent has been selected as a 2016 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Silver Scholar. Abdella and Kent were selected to the silver scholar team based on his scores in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, for which more than 1,900 applications were received this year.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars, and providing nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each Silver Scholar receives a $1,250 scholarship and a special medallion.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program and recognizes Coca-Cola Community College scholars during All-State Community College Academic Team Recognition ceremonies held in 38 states.

Phi Theta Kappa will recognize the 2016 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Scholars on stage at this year’s Annual Convention, April 7-9, in National Harbor, MD.

The New Century Scholars program honors the top scoring Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team nominee from each of the 50 states in the U.S. Since 1989. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has awarded $60 million in scholarships to more than 5,400 outstanding students.

Silver Scholar

Silver Scholar Courtney Kent

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Silver Scholar Mahir Abdella

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What is it like to experience Alzheimer’s – a disease that affects more than 5 million Americans? Those attending the Second Annual Caregivers’ Conference at St. Petersburg College on April 1 will go inside the dementia experience in a session called “Entering Their World,” led by dementia patient advocate Peggy Macaluso, from both a professional and personal point of view.

The conference, with the theme “Getting Real About Reality,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 1, in the Conference Center of SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. The event, which includes a buffet lunch, is free, but advance registration is required. To register, email maria@mariacares.com, or call 727-393-7711.

11796362_1625827754368928_5545028781355990792_nThe conference is co-sponsored by the Florida Caregivers Network and the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College.

The “virtual” Alzheimer’s experience is just one of more than a half-dozen sessions on the agenda that will offer helpful advice and the latest information on dementia research to family caregivers, volunteers working with older adults, and professionals in aging and related services.

isps-bannerKeynote speaker will be the Hon. David Jolly, 13th District Congressman from St. Petersburg. Other speakers and panelists will include:

  • Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who will discuss his department’s Project Lifesaver, an electronic tracking device for dementia patients
  • Linda Burhans, author and nationally recognized expert on caregiver advocacy
  • Karen Truman, founder and president of Dementia Caregiver Resources Inc., cited by Assisted Living Today as one of the nation’s top memory care experts
  • Sunit Srivastava, managing member of the Legacy Health Medical Group, which specializes in the care of residents in nursing homes, and assisted and independent living facilities
  • Helen King, deputy director of the Pinellas-Pasco Area Agency on Aging

During breaks, conference attendees will be able to browse the booths of more than a dozen vendors offering products and services to assist caregivers. Door prizes, including a free beach resort weekend, will be awarded throughout the conference.

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