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By Nikki Cabus

Indian River State College Promise Program Renewed for Third Year

Read Time 3 Minutes

A unanimous vote by the IRSC Foundation Board to renew the IRSC Promise program means students graduating in 2024 from in-district public and public charter high schools and eligible in-district homeschool graduates can earn tuition-free Associate degrees from Indian River State College.

Approved for a third year, the IRSC Promise Program has correlated to a dramatic increase in college-going among local high school graduates with greater numbers of Hispanic, first-generation and male students entering the College—impressive statistics that far exceed or buck national trends.

The IRSC Promise Program, sponsored by the IRSC Foundation, represents the College’s commitment to serve our students and community. The College, its faculty and staff, believe that the cost of tuition should never prevent students from pursuing their personal and academic goals.

The Program will provide a tuition-free Associate Degree to every qualifying graduate from Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie county public or public charter high schools and eligible in-district homeschool graduates.

“Over the past two years, more than 4,300 first-time-in-college students entered Indian River State College through the IRSC Promise program,” shares Vice President for Student Success Elizabeth Gaskin.

“The program is a game-changer for so many families in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie communities, and we are grateful for the leadership, support and vision of the IRSC Foundation Board in moving Promise forward for another year.”

A leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College transforms lives by offering high-quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Florida’s Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is a recipient of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. The College serves nearly 22,000 students annually and offers more than 100 programs leading to Bachelor’s degrees, Associate degrees, technical certificates and applied technology diplomas.

Credited chiefly to the success of the IRSC Promise program, overall enrollment for Indian River State College continues to climb. Last year, when the College introduced its first Promise cohort, Indian River State College welcomed the largest first-year class in its more than 60-year history; overall enrollment increased by nearly +9%. This fall, the College has more first-time-in-college students than ever, and enrollment continues to accelerate, to date an increase of +6% over last fall.

The IRSC Promise program is not a grant or scholarship. It is a tuition-paid program sponsored by the IRSC Foundation and funded through generous donor philanthropy and unrestricted investment proceeds.

“Since its inception in 2022, the Indian River State College Promise Program has proven to be one of the most successful investments the IRSC Foundation has made to quickly and dramatically remove barriers to higher education,” said IRSC Foundation Board Chair Bill Marine. “We are proud to support a new year of funding to help provide tuition-free Associate degrees for a new generation of high school graduates.”

Eligible students can pledge the IRSC Promise at promise.irsc.edu beginning January 24, 2024. The pledge deadline is May 24, 2024.

For more information, visit https://promise.irsc.edu or email promise@irsc.edu

By Nikki Cabus

Tech Hub hosts first ever event in the Treasure Coast with Jensen Beach Technologies

Read Time 4 Minutes

South Florida Tech Hub held our first event in the Treasure Coast – and it was amazing!

With Tech Hub supporting the Miami Metro region (Miami, Broward and Palm Beach counties) for almost 30 years now, we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we held our first event in Martin County. We kept hearing rumblings of technology startups, a research park, biotech spaces, and the local college doing some great work in the Treasure Coast (Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties). Then, we heard about more and more of our founders buying homes and businesses opening up north. So we decided to take a peek.

According to World Population Review, Port St. Lucie is in the top ten largest cities in the state of Florida coming in at number six. Of course, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are up there too, but Port St. Lucie had the largest increase in population over the last two years. The once under-the-radar city isn’t so much any more these days.

Our first event in the Treasure Coast was sponsored by the newly rebranded Jensen Beach Technologies (formerly GMS East) who’s office was literally located just across the street in the technology center. They company has dependable rugged manufacturing experience; from rackmount to small form factor servers, their rugged industrial and commercial servers and display systems are rooted in patented technologies, innovative designs and proven manufacturing protocols. Scott Kaplan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Jensen Beach Technologies was there to greet everyone.

The modern Jensen Beach Tech Center facilities serve as the focal point in the middle of the Jensen Beach Technology Campus. The technology campus is home for tech-centric businesses and an offers an educational curriculum that serves as the epicenter for advanced technology development in Florida’s Treasure Coast. The Tech Campus is home to both residential, retail, hospitality, and commercial businesses.

The happy hour was held at the brand new Circa69 America Gastro Pub in Jensen Beach right across from the water. The location is beautiful, the staff was so friendly, and the food and drinks were delicious. A big shoutout to Jacob DiBiasio, Business Data Analyst at Kyle G’s Restaurants who was our host and even donated bottles of wine and a gift card to our raffle.

The event attracted almost fifty attendees from across four different counties including Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and yes, even Broward! Those in attendance ranged from startup founders, technology leaders, nonprofit executives and even technology students. Some of those organizations in attendance were Indian River State College, 365 Data Centers, Crescent Solutions, Lifescale Analytics, Junior Achievement Palm Beach & Treasure Coast, Crown Castle, Sloane Staffing, Start Martin County Chamber of Commerce, AVA Intelligence, IT News and Events, WaveFront Consulting, Gather Zen, LLC and so many others.

So many technology leaders who live and work in the Treasure Coast all had conversations around what’s being built, the opportunities ahead of them, and how we can begin coming together to hep support real tech innovation and connection in the area.

Those conversations included current Claudio Kirk Barto, CEO of Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast,  about the need for more STEM-related industry engagement for k-12 students and the connection to higher education institutions with technical degrees. Indian River State College is stepping up to the plate. Amy Pearlstine, Membership Director at Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, also talked about the growth of the chamber which is the region’s largest chamber with over 1300 individual members.

“It is only fitting that Indian River State College, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education and host of multiple National Science Foundation centers focused on expanding laser, optics, photonics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy workforces would join the Tech Hub as it moves north into Florida’s Treasure Coast,” says IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore.

“We look forward to touring this esteemed group through the Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex—Florida’s most technologically advanced workforce training center—when it opens on our Fort Pierce campus this fall and to forging new partnerships and collaborations that support the growth of Florida’s tech workforce pipeline.”

Thank you to all who attended our first event in the Treasure Coast. Stay tuned for more to come. Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

By Nikki Cabus

Florida remains #1 for higher education in U.S. News and World Report rankings for the seventh year

Read Time 3 Minutes

U.S. News & World Report has once again named Florida the top state in the country for higher education.

Florida’s higher education system has held the top ranking since the inception of the rankings in 2017. This achievement can be credited to the collective commitment of our elected leaders, the Board of Governors, and the state universities to student success and affordability.

“Florida’s success would not be possible without the exceptional leadership at our 12 public universities, Governor DeSantis’s commitment to excellence in higher education, and the unwavering support of our legislative leaders. I am truly grateful for their investment and continued support,” said Brian Lamb, chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System.

“Florida has long been a national leader in higher education, and retaining this #1 ranking proves the Florida way is working. By prioritizing student success, with an emphasis on providing all students a high-quality, low-cost education, Florida’s universities are leaning in to produce top-tier talent to meet workforce needs, increase research capabilities, and retain the best and brightest faculty whose excellence and expertise provide the platform from which we create the future.”

Metrics considered by U.S. News & World Report include the time it takes students to complete two- and four-year college programs, the cost of in-state tuition and fees, and the debt burden that college graduates carry. Florida improved on two of the five metrics in the recent rankings, including four-year graduation rate and educational attainment. We remained #1 for the lowest tuition and fees.

The State University System recently announced a 12 percent five-year increase in graduation rates and a 49 percent year-over-year drop in the cost-to-the-student for a bachelor’s degree. Due to support from elected leaders and initiatives that drive down costs, the average State University System student pays less than $3,400 for a bachelor’s degree once financial aid is included. Additionally, 75% of resident undergrads had no loans during the 2020-21 academic year, up from 69% the previous year.

“This recognition affirms the incredible collaboration among our universities, our System, and Governor DeSantis and our State Legislature to prioritize Florida’s students,” said Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida. “Accountability is key, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have given our System the tools necessary for our students to achieve a higher quality of education, graduate faster, with little to no debt.”

Accountability is critical to the System’s continuing rise in productivity and reputation, and the state’s investments in performance-based funding have provided the tools necessary for this ranking. In the fall of 2020, the Board of Governors added a dashboard on the homepage that provides a transparent way for all interested parties to monitor our System’s performance on these prioritized metrics.

The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors.  The System has 12 universities and more than 430,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation.  Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the System’s coordination and operation.  The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the System’s chief executive.  For more, visit flbog.edu

By Nikki Cabus

The Broward UP™ Sunshine Health Training Center has officially launched in the City of Lauderhill

Read Time 4 Minutes

On Monday, May 22nd, Broward College celebrated the official opening of the new Sunshine Health Training Center.

In February, Broward College received a $100,000 grant from Sunshine Health to establish the Broward UP™ @ Sunshine Health Training Center in the City of Lauderhill.

Broward College and Sunshine Health are collaborating on this new initiative that will brighten the career landscape of the City and pave the way for a unique educational facility that will equip residents with the skills necessary to thrive in the health care job marketplace, one of the most in-demand career fields.

In attendance were the City of Lauderhill’s Mayor Ken Thurson and Commissioner Melissa Dunn, Sunshine Health’s President & CEO, Nathan Landsbaum, Broward UP students Voneshia Corbin and Abby Rayno, and Broward College’s Senior VP of Workforce Education and Innovation, Dr. Mildred Coyne, and Associate VP of Workforce Development, Diane Peart.

THE STATS

According to Data USA, the City of Lauderhill had a median household income of $43,658 and median household value of $178,500 in 2020. These stats included 1-year growth rates of 4.64% and 15.6%, respectively. 80% of the population (57.5k people) is Black or African American with 37.3% (26.8k people) of Lauderhill residents born outside of the country accounting for over 40 languages spoken.

Almost one fifth (19.1%) of the City’s total population lives below the poverty line which is higher than the national average of 12.8%. About nine times the amount of women received some sort of post-secondary education than men, yet black women are 42% of those living under the poverty line with young males under the age of eleven being the next.

Broward College’s Broward UP™ and Sunshine Health are set out to change these stats for the better.

 

THE PARTNERS

Broward UP™ (Unlimited Potential) has expanded Broward College’s service model to ensure all Broward County residents have access to post-secondary education. Through Broward UP, Broward College is offering FREE workforce training and student support services online and directly in neighborhoods throughout Broward County. Their goal is to help the community get the training needed to find a good job, make more money, and get the skills needed to thrive in a career.

Sunshine Health, headquartered in Broward County, is among the largest healthcare plans in Florida. Offering coordinated care and a network of support for its more than 2 million members, Sunshine Health is transforming the health of the community, one person at a time by focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Sunshine Health offers government-sponsored managed care through Medicaid, Long Term Care, Medicare and Florida’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Additionally, our specialty plans include the Child Welfare Specialty Plan serving children in or adopted from the state’s Child Welfare system; the Serious Mental Illness Specialty Plan for people living with serious mental illness; and the Children’s Medical Services Health Plan, operated by Sunshine Health on behalf of the Florida Department of Health for children and adolescents with special healthcare needs.

 

ECONMIC DEVELOPMENT

Randall Deich, a former STEM educator in Lauderhill and current Director Talent Attraction and Education with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance explained, “Post-secondary education plays an essential role in developing the foundation for individual growth, community prosperity, and economic development. When underserved communities have access to high-quality education there is a greater chance to reduce inequalities and promote social mobility.”

He gave the Broward Up model a big pat on the back stating, “Services such as these play a key role in community development by equipping individuals with advanced skills and cultivating a competitive workforce that is highly attractive to local businesses. Training programs that have this “Unlimited Potential” mindset are more than just an education model; it is an investment in community prosperity and resident empowerment.”

 

THE TRAINING CENTER

The new partnership brings free training and certification opportunities to Broward County residents interested in starting a career in healthcare.

The Broward College-Sunshine Health Training Center is located at Sunshine Health’s Lauderhill Welcome Room within the Lauderhill Mall at 1299C N.W. 40th Ave.

This will create an additional access point to help equip residents with the skills necessary to enter the healthcare job marketplace. The partnership is the latest venture in  Sunshine Health’s statewide workforce development program, called Sunshine Health Works, which provides pathways to prosperity for communities across the state.

“Sunshine Health is committed to the communities we serve by supporting and investing in resources that address critical community needs,” said Nathan Landsbaum, CEO of Sunshine Health. “This collaboration with Broward College allows residents to gain job skills and creates opportunities for them to have a successful future.”

Several courses will be offered, with a focus on providing essential skills for in-demand medical positions. These courses include Electronic Medical Records, Health Career Core, Medical Administrative Assistant, and Revenue Cycle.

Participants who complete these classes will receive a Broward College certificate and micro-credential, both of which can lead to career placement or opportunities for further study. For certifications that require additional testing, a testing voucher will be provided to students.

Sunshine Health’s new partnership with Broward College coincides with a larger expansion program that will provide a pathway for participants to secure a career in high-demand fields to better meet the needs of the workforce within Leon, Hillsborough, and Broward counties.

 

Indian River State College Promise Program Renewed for Third Year
Tech Hub hosts first ever event in the Treasure Coast with Jensen Beach Technologies
Florida remains #1 for higher education in U.S. News and World Report rankings for the seventh year
The Broward UP™ Sunshine Health Training Center has officially launched in the City of Lauderhill