The Education Foundation of Sarasota County believes that enriching the educational experiences available to Sarasota County students, teachers and schools strengthens all factors of the community and transforms lives.

Central to our work is a shared view that success is not limited to one route per lifetime. Rather, success is achieved when students can proficiently develop and complete their own viable plan for life after high school, and they know that learning does not end with a diploma but is essential to adapt and thrive in a world constantly in flux.

Whether the plan is attending and completing traditional university or technical college, earning a trade certification, directly applying 21st century skills training in a career-path job, or pursuing multiple options, we believe the number of students prepared to complete their personalized plans will grow as our honed approach is imbedded.

Our shared vision is to see more graduates step confidently onto the next stage of their life journey– qualified, prepared and motivated to succeed in college, career and life.

Currently, the gap is wide between the goal and the reality. Too many students graduate without a plan or the know-how to develop a plan for the next step after receiving a high school diploma. Too few Sarasota County students graduate with the necessary coursework and life skills to succeed in college and/or a vocation.

In response to these needs, the Education Foundation is working closely with our district to open and staff school-based career-and-college centers, called Student Success Centers, to supplement and enhance the personalized guidance of a one-on-one school-based counselor.

Beginning in August, the Education Foundation will have two fully operational Student Success Centers located at North Port High School and Riverview High School. These centers, which are an extension of the Education Foundation and will be staffed and supported by us, will offer resources to improve students’ readiness for college, career and life. Resources include personal advising, writing skills workshops, financial literacy courses, resume/interviewing skills classes and leadership development, just to name a few.

We have developed a new comprehensive website, LaunchYourPlan.com, that offers students access to postsecondary planning information in the format that is most familiar to digital natives. From their phone or laptop, students and parents easily can navigate the website and explore topics including year-by-year checklists for high school students, scholarship opportunities and more.

It is our duty, as an educational thought leader, to explain and advocate for a readiness mindset with the public and to help convey its meaning and importance. Students deserve the opportunity to reimagine their aspirations and understand that achieving success in the 21st century will look different from their parents’ experience.

We will continue to seek input from our community as we hone our approach, and we invite anyone interested in supporting this vision to contact us. We are assembling a volunteer corps to help strengthen our work and we need many hands helping us accomplish this audacious goal. When we succeed, we expect that more Sarasota County students will be ready and motivated to advance from high school onto a postsecondary pathway, fully prepared to participate in our society’s economic and cultural prosperity.