Innovation

By 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer-related jobs but only 400,000 graduates to fill them. The harsh reality in Sarasota County is that over 52% of our students receive subsidized meal benefits and don’t have the means to access technology training beyond the basic classes offered in schools.

We commit to providing innovative opportunities for all students—spanning from coding and digital production classes to real workplace internship opportunities to e-resources they can use to shine in class. In an effort to stay agile in the ever-changing world of technology, the Education Foundation is leveraging cloud computing to offer innovative enrichment courses for students and teachers. The Innovation Task Force, comprised of the sharpest business people and thought leaders in the technology industry in our community, advise the Education Foundation on new approaches to help our students.

Our students aren’t the only ones who need our help. Sarasota County Schools’ teachers need support and training to make the most of the digital resources that can take their classrooms to the next level. In 14% of schools in Florida, more than half the number of teachers are beginners when it comes to using technology. We’re working to provide innovative professional development opportunities so teachers are on the cutting-edge of technology education. 


DIGITAL LEARNING LABS

Digital Learning Labs (DLLs) provide a safe and supportive space for students and their families participating in the sites’ after-school care programs to access both technology and innovative courses that help expand critical thinking skills and needs towards their education. The labs were developed in partnership with youth-serving organizations, such as Girls Inc., and Sarasota County Schools focusing on students who are identified as eligible for free and reduced meals and academically at-risk. Additionally, the Education Foundation provides workforce development and leadership opportunities for high school students who provide support at select DLLs and Innovation Hubs throughout Sarasota County. 


SRQHACKS HACKATHON

The #SRQHacks Hackathon is an intense, collaborative coding and business plan experience that joins together middle and high school students with talented community mentors for an annual weekend-long event. It helps bridge the technology gap for students by connecting them with mentors from technology, design and business industries and tasking them to create a mobile app that addresses a community issue. Hackathon participants develop invaluable relationships with mentors that often transcend the three-day event which helps open doors to a brighter post-secondary future for these students.
 

STEM FAIR & STEMSMART SUMMIT

Each spring students grades 3-12 have an opportunity to showcase their STEM skills through participation in the annual county-wide STEM Fair. Sarasota County students submit projects ranging in categories such as Life Science, Biomedical and Health Sciences, and Engineering. Community volunteers participate in judging the projects and the top middle and high school finalists move on to compete at the State Science Fair and even the Intel State and Intel National Championships and VEX Competitions.

The STEMSmart Summit is a one day, project based competition providing teams of middle and high school students an opportunity to compete in a cross-section of STEM focused categories including health care, web and logo design, 3D CAD design, engineering design and STEM business plan creation. The STEMSmart Summit not only tests students’ technical skills but provides experience with real-world interactions they might encounter in future STEM careers. Dozens of volunteer judges from the local business and education community evaluate students’ performance providing constructive feedback and an opportunity for mentoring in their field of expertise.


To get involved, please contact Kati Burns at kburns@edfoundationsrq.org.