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Wilnic Gideon 2014 Alumni of the Year Wilnic Gideon Credits Success to Take Stock in Children

MIAMI, FL (February 14, 2014) – Boca Raton High School Dean Wilnic Gideon was announced as the recipient of Take Stock in Children’s 2014 Alumni of the Year earlier this week. Take Stock in Children is a statewide non-profit organization that is helping to break the cycle of poverty by providing mentors, resources and college scholarships to deserving, needs-based middle and high school students. Since 1995, more than 14,000 Take Stock in Children scholars have graduated from high school and Wilnic Gideon was singled out of many for the honor this year.

Gideon is a dean at Boca Raton High School, coach sports, motivational coach and a mentor. He credits much of his achievements to Take Stock in Children for helping him succeed academically and personally.

A graduate of Boca Raton High, Wilnic enrolled in Palm Beach’s Take Stock in Children program while in middle school and was paired with a caring, volunteer mentor. He majored in secondary mathematics education at Florida State University and graduated in 2010. While attending Florida State, Wilnic dedicated countless hours mentoring, tutoring and implementing programs in the Tallahassee community.

After graduating from FSU and returning to his home in Riviera Beach, Gideon made becoming a Take Stock in Children mentor a priority. In addition to his responsibilities as a dean and coach, he is pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership at Lynn University. But he always makes the time to meet weekly with Brion Crawford, his Take Stock in Children mentee.

“Paying it forward is a core value at Take Stock in Children,” said Madeline Pumariega, President and CEO of Take Stock in Children. “In addition to studying hard, getting good grades and staying on the right path, our scholars learn the importance of helping others succeed and Wilnic Gideon is a stellar example of success. He is an inspirational leader in his community and we are very proud that he is mentoring and empowering the next generation of deserving students with Take Stock in Children. She concluded, “We salute all nominated Take Sock in Children alumni who continue to exemplify the transformative effect of higher education.”

Gideon will receive Take Stock in Children’s Alumni of the Year award in Tallahassee at the program’s annual leadership conference on February 12th.


National Mentoring Month in Florida Six Mentored High School Students Selected to Receive Leaders for Life™ Fellowship Award

At the beginning of National Mentoring Month, six mentored Florida high school student scholars were chosen as 2014 Take Stock in Children’s Leaders for Life™ Fellows. Take Stock in Children is a statewide non-profit organization with a 19-year history of providing scholarships, mentors and hope for deserving, needs-based youth to help break the cycle of poverty. The Leaders for Life™ Fellowship program was created in partnership with the Asofsky Family Foundation and each award is valued at $40,000.

The 2014 Leaders for Life™ Fellows are Jorden Holland (Okaloosa County), Daniella Rossi (Indian River County), Jacquelynn Shelton (Pasco County), Kevin Tierney (Volusia County, and Jovani Hernandez and Lucero Torres (Desoto, Hardee and Highlands Counties). These highly motivated scholars were selected based on their demonstration of strong leadership skills, moral character and academic success and are six of thousands of Florida high school students currently being mentored through Take Stock in Children.

On January 8, the 2014 Leaders for Life™ Fellows were surprised in their schools with the announcement and will be officially awarded their fellowships during Take Stock in Children’s leadership conference at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tallahassee, Florida on February 12, 2014.

Take Stock in Children’s Leaders for Life™ Fellowship program provides financial resources, services and support needed to ensure student success throughout college. The Asofsky Family Foundation provides each fellow with a Macintosh laptop, as well as funds for textbooks, supplies, food, housing, transportation and other college-related expenses. As recipients of these fellowships, these scholars can excel in a university environment with resources that empower them to develop their full potential. Hernandez, Holland, Rossi, Shelton, Tierney and Torres join fifteen current Leaders for Life™ Fellows.

“Take Stock in Children’s Leaders for Life™ Fellowship program is now in its fourth year,” said Mark Asofsky of the Asofsky Family Foundation, “and each year, my family and the esteemed panel of judges are overwhelmed when we see the magnitude of accomplishments displayed by these students. As they continue their educational journey, we are confident they will continue to lead by exemplary example” he concluded.

“Take Stock in Children’s high school dropout prevention and college attainment efforts contribute to the economic viability of Florida’s communities,” said Madeline Pumariega, Take Stock in Children President and CEO. “Our scholars boast an impressive 94 percent graduation rate. Guided on the path to success by our caring mentors, Take Stock in Children scholars overcome substantial obstacles and truly excel.”

Chairman of the Board Ted Carter Takes Stock in Children

Ted Carter Jacksonville Economic Development CEO to Chair Florida’s Most Successful Mentoring 501(c)3

Ted Carter, TSIC Chairman of the BoardMIAMI, FL (October 11, 2013) – Take Stock in Children, Florida’s flagship mentoring organization, recently appointed Ted Carter to chair its state board of directors. The head of Jacksonville’s Office of Economic Development is a six-year state board veteran and ardent advocate for higher education.

Carter will lead the statewide organization that has helped more than 22,000 deserving low-income students graduate from high school, complete college and break the cycle of poverty.

“Successfully transitioning at-risk students from high school to college and seeing them emerge as a well-educated workforce and leaders is impressive and a credit to the fifty-four Take Stock in Children programs,” said Carter. “I look forward to working with our dynamic new president, Board of Directors, local partners, the Legislature and Florida’s business community to build upon this success as we continue to grow our programs throughout Florida.”

“We are extremely honored to have Ted Carter chairing our board and leading our efforts to provide deserving scholars with caring mentors, college scholarships and hope for a better life,” said Madeline Pumariega, Take Stock in Children President and CEO. “His expertise and guidance will prove invaluable as we expand our college success strategies to increase college completion and workforce readiness.”

As Jacksonville’s Economic Development Officer, Carter currently serves as economic advisor and liaison to the Jacksonville, Duval County and North Florida business communities. He has extensive experience in real estate, economic development and public-private partnerships working with agencies such as the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Carter spent the last 8 years as a senior executive at CBRE, a global commercial real estate company, where he managed CBRE’s South Florida market operations based in Miami in addition to the company’s public sector group based in Washington, D.C.

Cutline: Ted Carter, Take Stock in Children Board Chair and Jacksonville Office of Economic Development Office Executive Director and CEO

Take Stock In Children Announces Madeline Pumariega As New President/CEO

Madeline Pumariega Madeline M. Pumariega has been appointed to serve as President & Chief Executive Officer of Take Stock in Children, a statewide non-profit organization, which has helped over 22,000 low-income and at-risk youth to break the cycle of poverty by completing college. The announcement was made by Don Pemberton, State Board Chair of Take Stock in Children.

“Madeline joins us at a critical time when we are expanding our college success strategies to increase college completion,” says Pemberton. “Madeline is a nationally-recognized leader in higher education and someone who deeply understands the challenges at-risk youth confront in completing college. Her experience will be invaluable to the future success of Take Stock in Children and our scholars.”

Pumariega has been a leader at Miami Dade College (MDC), the largest institution of higher education in the nation, since 1992, including most recently serving as President of the Wolfson Campus. She is nationally regarded for her work in developing innovative approaches to support academic progress and student success, ensuring thousands of youth access and complete college. Pumariega was instrumental in establishing Take Stock in Children’s largest affiliate, at MDC, currently serving 600 youth.

In her new role, Pumariega will lead all facets of the organization, which currently serves nearly 8,000 low-income and at-risk middle and high school students each year, and approximately 6,000 students pursuing post-secondary education at colleges across Florida. Working with a competent team of professionals and an active Board of Directors, she will oversee the organization’s management and operations, fundraising and development efforts, as well as strategic partnerships and legislative affairs.

“I have been a strong supporter of Take Stock in Children for many years, and am excited for the opportunity to join the organization’s team of dedicated people. Working together, I’m confident that we can continue to change the course of young peoples’ lives across the state of Florida,” said Pumariega. “I want to lead the organization in an expansion effort so more children in our state can have access and benefit from a college education."

Ms. Pumariega values service to the community and embodies the principles of education and opportunity for all. She has been instrumental in expanding nationally-known educational programs in Miami-Dade including City Year and Year Up. She serves on the boards of City Year Miami, Take Stock in Children and the Executive Board of the United Way. She also serves on the Our Miami steering committee for The Miami Foundation and is a member of the International Women’s Forum. She was a national Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community Colleges program, an initiative focusing on leadership development and capacity as a change agent for communities.


Awards Scholarships to Deserving, Low-Income High School Students

Four Take Stock in Children high school seniors were recently honored as Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) Scholars. Recognized as outstanding role models of academic success, the FPL Scholars each received a prepaid scholarship from Florida’s largest rate-regulated electric utility company.

Take Stock in Children honorees include Broward County’s Mateo Cano, Palm Beach County’s Johmaiky Ramos, Miami-Dade County’s Omair Chaudhri and Sarasota County’s Ravon Hull.

“We’re thrilled to partner with FPL to fuel our students’ future academic success,” said Dan Lyons, interim CEO of Take Stock in Children. “FPL’s scholarship awards really empower these young people with hope and resources for a promising career and a better life.”

Mike Sole, FPL’s VP of State Governmental Affairs announced the FPL Scholar contribution in March at Take Stock in Children’s annual Leadership Summit in Tallahassee.
FPL Representatives Isabel Herbert and Rae Dowling presented scholarships to Mateo, Johmaiky, Omair and Ravon at Take Stock in Children graduation ceremonies.

“At FPL we understand that an economically viable community includes a successful and educated workforce and this is why we are so pleased to support Take Stock in Children,” said Pam Rauch, vice president of Development and External Affairs for FPL. “We are proud to help these students realize their dreams.”


Dr. Charles Voorhis Chosen From Field of 7,500 Volunteers

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, Take Stock in Children honored one of 7,500 Florida volunteer mentors with the organization’s most prestigious award.
Dr. Charles Voorhis was honored as Take Stock in Children’s 2013 Mentor of the Year at a ceremony earlier this year.

A retired physician, Dr. Voorhis got involved with his local Take Stock in Children program in Bay County. Like all Take Stock mentors, Voorhis has worked diligently to “change a life over lunch” with the students he mentors. His weekly meetings with his students help to keep them focused on graduating from high school and attending college. Voorhis’ caring nature did not stop with motivating his students to excel in education- Johnny Atwell’s personal life was also significantly impacted by the Mentor of the Year.

Atwell was in a serious automobile accident after graduation- one that left him paralyzed and unable to walk. Mentor Voorhis guided Atwell and his family through the maze of medical resources available and helped them access needed financial support. He faithfully visited Atwell in the hospital and in his handicapped-accessible apartment. After a year of recovery and therapy, Atwell entered Gulf State College and Voorhis couldn’t be prouder.

“The bond formed between volunteer mentors and students is a lasting and transformational one,” said Dan Lyons, interim CEO of Take Stock in Children. “We are proud to honor Dr. Voohis, and all of our 7,500 volunteer mentors for their commitment to higher education and Florida’s at-risk youth.”


All Non-Tuition Related Expenses Paid for These Five Exemplary Florida High School Students

MIAMI, FL (March 20, 2013) – Take Stock in Children provides college scholarships for deserving low income at-risk students, but books supplies, housing, food, transportation and more are all expenses college students must bear in addition to tuition. For five Florida high school seniors, those expenses will be paid thanks to the generosity of the Asofsky Family Foundation.

Esther Benette of Palm Beach County, Benjamin Carpenter of Hillsborough County, Kaylee Mancillas of DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands County, Wade McDonald of Citrus/Levy County and Katty Pierre-Charles of Manatee County are the 2013 Leaders 4 Life Fellows. Chosen from several thousand Take Stock in Children students, these five were selected based on their demonstration of strong leadership skills, moral character and academic success.

Created in partnership with the Asofsky Family Foundation, the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship enables the recipients to excel in a university environment by giving them the resources that empower them to develop their full potential as “leaders for life. The fellowship provides each student with up to $10,000 annually for leadership training and development, housing, food, textbooks, supplies, transportation and other college-related expenses. Fellows were recognized on March 6 in Tallahassee at Take Stock in Children’s Leadership Summit. State and local stakeholders took the opportunity to join Take Stock in Children to recognize and applaud the five scholars’ achievements. State leaders in attendance included Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll, Florida State Lottery Secretary Cindy O’Connell, Florida Power & Light Vice President Mike Sole, and Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett. Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, was also on hand to applaud Mark Asofsky, his family and the foundation for creating an innovative fellowship that allows Take Stock in Children scholars the ability to enter a university without the financial concerns of non-tuition college expenses.

“As a strong believer in supporting education for our youth, the Asofsky Family Foundation is honored to celebrate these remarkable Take Stock in Children scholars,” said Mark Asofsky, Founder of the Asofsky Family Foundation. “All are top-notch students who deserve to be recognized for their achievements, and we are working to provide them with the tools necessary to become tomorrow’s great leaders.”

Scholar Spotlight: Courtney Noelle Paige

Noelle This week we will be beginning our series of "Scholar Spotlight!" Every few weeks, we will be featuring a different Take Stock in Children alumni, sharing their story and how TSIC has impacted their lives!

This week we are proud to feature Courtney Noelle Paige! Originally from the Santa Rosa County Take Stock in Children program, Noelle has been dancing for well over a decade, and after responding to a casting call, she was immediately hired to be the featured soloist in a music video for singer Kelsey’s song "10,000 Bombs" – check it out here!

"To be involved in something that huge was incredible," says Noelle. She continues, "After just one week on YouTube the video had over 25,000 views. In Pensacola, Florida I was always told that I was a big fish in a small pond. To be featured in a video that 25,000 people saw was definitely a fantastic moment!"

Santa Rose County Program Director Angi Brown writes of Noelle, "[She] is a shining star for our program.  She is beautiful and talented, as well as a great student." Indeed, Noelle’s story illustrates the qualities that are fundamental to the TSIC program – strong mentorship, support, and dedication. Noelle’s mentor Paula Lou Mapoles confirms this sentiment writing, "[Take Stock in Children is] an on-going journey that started with a 7th grade young lady who was wearing braces, to a now six-foot magnificent ballerina who touches the hearts and souls of so many through her world of dance… The TSIC mentoring program is a relationship that continues for a life time between a mentee and a mentor!"

Noelle’s story begins in Pace, Florida where she attended Pace High School and trained with Ballet Pensacola. After ten years of training, she was offered a contract and accepted a soloist position with the professional company. The deep relationship between mentor and mentee is illustrated in the fact that "after high school graduation, [my husband and I] sponsored scholarship for her to purchase ballet slippers, [for] her participation in Miss Teen Pageant, and after-show dinners at her favorite restaurant, Olive Garden," writes Noelle’s mentor, Paula.

After high school, Noelle received her A.A. in General Education from Pensacola State College where she worked as a Student Ambassador and was awarded Pensacola's Rising Star and Women in the Arts Award from the Milton Women's Club. Noelle then moved to Chicago to accept a soloist position with Elements Contemporary Ballet. She was then only one of 30 students accepted to University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Just this past summer, she was offered a fellowship with President Obama's re-election campaign, "Organizing for America," where she worked for 12 weeks to open a new campaign office in Deklab, Illinois and recruit full time volunteers and activists.

Noelle’s concentration is in Nonprofit Public Administration and she hopes to do something with education, similar to a program like Take Stock in Children, of which she says, "It's a fantastic organization that can help any student from any back ground. For me it was about supporting a dream that most people looked at me sideways for. I always wanted to live in a big city and do big things - so here I am!" She writes of the support her mentor offered, "[Paula] always came to my ballet shows in Pensacola and encouraged me to do whatever I needed to fulfill my dreams…. I never thought me, being from Pace, Florida, would be living this dream!" When asked how Paula felt in turn about mentoring Noelle, she wrote, "I could write a book about Noelle Paige and my relationship of a life time that started as a TSIC today, a young lady that will forever remain embedded in my heart!"

Noelle’s story is inspiring to all of us here at Take Stock in Children, and we are so proud of all of her hard work that has enabled her to be realizing her dream!


Not long after moving to Florida, Mark Turner immediately embraced the Take Stock in Children mission and dedicated himself to supporting students and promoting its cause. During his initial mentor training he volunteered, without hesitation, to mentor five young men at a school located half an hour away from his home. Turner currently mentors six students including Cameron Cox, Tyler Crosswhite, Vincent Johnson, Michael Moore, Valention Ortega and Khaleel Thorbourne.

His experience as a retired school teacher, guidance counselor and administrator makes his insight and feedback invaluable. By working with each mentee individually, he is able to help them overcome any situations they are struggling with. He is so dedicated that he even had the school gather his mentees together for a conference call so they would not miss out on their weekly meeting while he was on vacation.

Turner joined the local Leadership Council in 2010 in order to take an even more active role. He also serves on the Student Performance Review committee, giving guidance and setting goals for students who are on probationary status and in jeopardy of losing their scholarship. Plus, he serves as a volunteer Student Advocate. In this role, he has travelled to as many as 20 schools throughout the 72 mile-long county to interview prospective scholars.

He goes even further by mentoring other mentors! He has provided direction, support and taught skills for connecting with students. Turner feels so strongly about motivating mentors to maximize their impact on their students that he has initiated and facilitated a Mentor Empowerment and Training workshop in Brevard County.

*Photo caption: (Top left to right) Cameron Cox, Michael Moore, Khaleel Thorbourne and Tyler Crosswhite pose with their mentor Mark Turner.

Rays Baseball Foundation and Helios Education Foundation are "Doubling up for Education" in Support of Take Stock in Children

The Rays Baseball Foundation and Helios Education Foundation are partnering to provide $1 million in college scholarships for Take Stock in Children students in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee and Pasco counties. Called "Doubling Up for Education," the partnership is aimed at giving students the financial resources and mentorship support they need to successfully achieve a postsecondary education at any Florida state college.

"The Rays are proud to join the Helios Education Foundation and Take Stock in Children in the creation of Doubling up for Education," said Tampa Bay Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg. “The scholarships and mentoring support provided by this program will open new doors for students and families throughout Tampa Bay and provide long-lasting impacts within our community."

Each time a Rays player hits a double in a regular season game, Helios will donate $600 toward the initiative and the Rays Baseball Foundation will match that gift. The partners expect a combined cash total of $200,000 each season toward college scholarships, bringing the total scholarship investment to $1 million over five years.

Over 1,400 High School Seniors Graduate and Receive Full College Scholarships

Take Stock in Children has celebrated a significant milestone with the graduation of more than 1,400 low-income high school seniors from over 50 of its local programs this year. Each of these students has received full scholarships to attend any state college or university in Florida of their choice upon graduation.

The formal graduation ceremonies began in Okaloosa County in April and finished early June in Escambia County. The series of graduations across the state, ranging from the Panhandle to the Keys, gathered community leaders, mentors, parents and supporters of Take Stock in Children to recognize the successful seniors.

Along with a scholarship, Take Stock in Children’s graduating scholars also received complimentary college survival guides to serve as a resource for the students navigating their way through their freshman year. Sponsors of this significant effort included The Florida Lottery, Comcast, Florida Crystals, Helios Education Foundation and Berkowitz Pollack Brant.

*Photo: Indian River State College President Edwin Massey, The Florida Lottery’s Amy Gray and Indian River State College Foundation Executive Director Ann Decker celebrate.

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