Local Employers Make the Largest Commitment to Workforce Development in CareerEdge History

Sarasota FL (April 25, 2017): As part of its employer partnership model, CareerEdge provides incumbent worker training grants for its employer partners. The companies are also encouraged to leverage these funds and put forth their own dollars to up-skill their workers. In 2017, CareerEdge saw the largest workforce development investment by employers in its history for employee trainings and programs. CareerEdge invested over $320,000 in incumbent worker, job seeker and internship training programs, while organizations financed almost $1,300,000. This increase illustrates a major cultural shift by these companies and their acknowledgment of the need to fill skills-gaps by training and supporting credential attainment in the workplace.

In workforce development there is a constant need to stay ahead of the curve. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative focuses on doing just that by being a convener for industry leaders, employers and community partners. In 2017, CareerEdge reached several milestones for its investments in the training of incumbent workers and job seekers for our region. These findings can be seen in the 2017 CareerEdge Evaluator Report, which was completed by a third-party evaluator, Shelley Robertson of Robertson Consulting Group Inc., to share with funders, workforce partners and the community.

Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Debbie LaPinska, of PGT Innovations, “Working with CareerEdge has helped PGT Innovations add more extensive training and development programs to our company. The grant dollars have guided us to find more opportunities for our team members with career pathing and development of new skills.”

Another noteworthy component in the report are the raises and career-laddering opportunities that employers are giving to their staff members after they complete their trainings. This past year, 404 employees were trained through CareerEdge incumbent worker training grants, of which 39% had participated in prior trainings. Meaning that individuals are not remaining stagnant after training but are continuing to move-up and gain skills within the company. On average, individuals earned an 8% wage increase within two years of training, and 195 received promotions.

“Employers are continuing to see the importance of investing in their workers and the benefits it has for the organization and employee retention. To see employers so steadfast in the training of our workforce shows the impact we are having by our persistency in helping to close skills-gaps.” explains Mireya Eavey, Executive Director of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

The evaluator also highlighted some transformations within CareerEdge programs. For example, there was a shift to serving the young adult sector. This was seen in the development of a pilot program called Career Quest, which focuses on connecting low income high school juniors to career exploration opportunities and an introduction to savings and financial management. Also in 2017, the organization worked with educators to create express training programs that are helping students to enter the workforce quicker with industry-valued credentials. CareerEdge invested in these innovative job-seeker strategies and training programs to respond to local talent development needs.

“CareerEdge continues to evolve to meet the challenges in our regional workforce,” said Jon Thaxton, Senior Vice President for Community Investment at Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which is one of the original funders of CareerEdge and serves as its fiscal agent. “From reviewing this report, it is clear that the impact of CareerEdge goes well beyond its training grants for employers. It also serves as a valuable resource and advocate for these organizations as well as for job-seekers in our community.”

CareerEdge will now use these successes and lessons presented in the report to further improve training strategies, employer partnerships and program structure. The organization will also be bringing these techniques and practices to a new partnership with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in June 2018. With a mindset of bettering the workforce and the community, CareerEdge will continue to implement programs and trainings that meet industry and employer demands.



For Third Straight Year, Sarasota County Schools Lead State in Pell Grant Pursuit

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 12, 2018) — The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a collective impact team of local organizations focused on increasing college and credential attainment in Sarasota County, announces that the Sarasota County School District has been recognized as having the highest FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate in the state, according to the Florida College Access Network (FCAN). This is the third year in a row that Sarasota County has been named number one in the state for “Large Districts” in FCAN’s annual Florida FAFSA Challenge.

Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid for college, as well as a leading indicator of college attendance. But research indicates that Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in federal Pell Grants alone by not completing the form. Through targeted efforts developed by Talent4Tomorrow in partnership with the school district, 47.8% of Sarasota County high school seniors completed the FAFSA as of March 31, 2018. According to FCAN, the incremental increase in FAFSA completion over the last two years has resulted in approximately $800,000 in additional Pell grants available for Sarasota County graduates to pursue their higher-education goals, with the average student award approximately $4,000.

“The Talent4Tomorrow initiative demonstrates an example of a true collaboration between a broad-range of organizations coming together for a common goal – the future of our community’s youth.  The Chamber believes strongly in this alliance and the outcomes are a testament to the strength and commitment that the partners bring to the table,” said Kevin Cooper, President of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce which serves as the ‘backbone’ organization for Talent4Tomorrow.

The Talent4Tomorrow partners worked with the District to implement several strategies that assisted graduating high school seniors and their families with completing the financial aid form. Talent4Tomorrow hosted FAFSA labs at high schools, with support from local college financial aid officers and other community volunteers, to assist students and their parents in the application process.  It also implemented a communications plan to raise awareness about FAFSA that included flyers, text messages, emails, classroom visits, morning announcements, outreach to youth-serving partners and the faith-based community, press releases and social media posts.

The Partnership developed some new techniques this year, such as the innovative use of Snapchat geofilters, introduced by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and piloted at Booker High School. A geofilter is similar to a frame or sticker that can go on a Snapchat photo and is shared with the user’s friends. An organization or individual pays to have the filter available in Snapchat for a specific location and period of time. With approval from the school, the electronic FAFSA lab filter was made available in the cafeteria for the students. On lab day alone, the filter was swiped by 367 students, and 64 of them posted these framed photos on their account, which resulted in 2,900 views of the FAFSA filter.

According to FCAN, Booker High School had the second highest completion rate improvement in the District compared to last year, with a 9% increase.  The Snapchat strategy was seen as a positive application of a platform used by students daily. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership plans to expand the use of this social media tool next year and will continue to look for ways to engage and connect with students on the value of completing the FAFSA.

Support for these programs and events comes from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with matching funds from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI), which is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

More information about FCAN and the FAFSA Challenge Winners is available here.





Read More

Sarasota Herald Tribune

SRQ Magazine 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

CareerEdge Partners with Employers for New Training Model

Sarasota FL (April 4, 2018): Nineteen individuals recently graduated from training programs developed by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative: 10 American Red Cross-trained Nurse Assistants and 9 Automotive Technicians from Suncoast Technical College. What makes these students different from those in traditional training programs is that each one was pre-screened and hired by an employer prior to starting their classes.

CareerEdge marketed these tuition-free training programs through multiple media channels, helping to drive candidates to employer application portals. All of the Nurse Assistant students were chosen by Tidewell Hospice for work at one of their facilities or at their home health agency, Approved Home Health. The Automotive Express students were hired by local dealerships: Gettel Automotive, Sunset Automotive, Toyota of Sarasota and Venice Honda prior to beginning the entry-level course.

The goal of these innovative educational programs is to engage employers in the talent identification process on the front end, while also offering individuals guaranteed employment once they complete the trainings.

The nursing program ran 4 nights per week for 7 weeks, while the twice a week evening automotive course was 11 weeks long. Both classes had 100% completion rates and provided graduates starting wages of $12 to $13 per hour.

Funding for the certification programs was made possible by Gulf Coast Community Foundation donors Walt and Renee Eppard who have taken a personal interest in helping these newly trained individuals succeed in their careers.

Developing skills and overcoming barriers to have a career with the potential for growth are high priorities for us. The reward of connecting directly with our students is inspiring and gratifying. A small investment can go a long way to changing the path of those willing to work for a better life for themselves and their families, explains donor Renee Eppard.

Students also received CareerEdge’s Bridges to Careers soft skills training in subjects such as Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Professionalism and Stress Management. And they were offered a financial education class delivered by Manatee Community Federal Credit Union to help them learn about budgeting, credit and debt management.

Tidewell Chief Human Resources Officer Julie Schilson said, “We’ve worked with CareerEdge for several years, receiving grants for specialized training of our current nursing staff. We are thrilled to be partnering with them now on recruiting and developing new talent for our organization.”

The auto program was first piloted with Gettel Automotive last fall and has expanded to include additional dealerships in a second cohort. CareerEdge began the automotive program by hosting a roundtable of industry representatives and developed a plan based on their input.

CareerEdge will continue to work directly with employers to find solutions to their talent needs, and to encourage them to be active participants in the workforce development process.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation donor Walt Eppard speaks to the Automotive class graduates.

Suncoast Technical College Automotive graduates with instructor Mark Mullen.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation donors Walt and Renee Eppard hosted some of the Nursing Assistant students at the Tidewell Signature luncheon.

The first cohort of Tidewell Hospice Nursing Assistant graduates.


CareerEdge Funders Collaborative Strengthens Employer-Focused Model

SARASOTA, FL: In pursuit of its strategic plan to grow programmatic infrastructure, strong partnerships and funding support, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative will partner with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. The change comes in response to continued growth, which requires a sharper focus on economic and talent development for the region.

As part of the transition, CareerEdge will move its operational functions by early summer from United Way Suncoast, its home for the past two years, to the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. This operational transition provides closer alignment to employers, enabling CareerEdge to support the workforce needs of local companies. Gulf Coast Community Foundation will continue in its role as fiscal agent, which it has done since the inception of CareerEdge in 2010. In addition, CareerEdge is pursuing incorporation as a 501c3 to grow new avenues of revenue.

“A fundamental part of the CareerEdge model is for the organization to evolve with the needs of the communities served, and to build capacity and partnerships with organizations which can enhance the CareerEdge impact,” said Mireya Eavey. “CareerEdge came under United Way Suncoast to better align with direct community service and engagement. “

Mireya Eavey has resigned as Sarasota Area President for United Way Suncoast to become the Chief Workforce Strategist at the Chamber. In this role, she will continue to lead CareerEdge’s mission to provide an exceptional labor force to the region’s growing industries.

CareerEdge will continue to support and engage in collaborative efforts with the United Way Suncoast financial stability initiatives.

“Partnering with CareerEdge on workforce initiatives in our neighborhood work across the region has been a powerful addition to our financial stability work, particularly in Sarasota,” said Suzanne McCormick, CEO of United Way Suncoast. “We look forward to continuing to work together on initiatives that help our families and communities thrive.”

Sarasota County Students Talk Career Pathways with Local Engineers

SARASOTA, Fla. (February 8, 2018) — The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and Sarasota County Schools Career and Technical Education Program hosted the 3rd annual “Experience Engineering Luncheon” on Friday, February 2nd at Suncoast Technical College. 125 high school juniors and seniors met with engineers from 22 local companies to discuss career and educational pathways into engineering. The engineers, ranging in areas of specialty, also brought examples of their company’s products, diagrams, and project plans to help illustrate how they solve problems with engineering.
Participating engineers were from the following companies and organizations:
• Adams Group
• Allied Flex
• Cruise Cars
• DMK Associates
• Florida Power & Light
• Hees & Associates
• Intertape Polymer Group (IPG)
• Karins Engineering
• Kimley-Horn
• Molex

• Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
• Pierce Manufacturing
• RND Automation & Engineering
• Sarasota County Government
• Snell Engineering
• Stantec
• Sun Hydraulics
• Tervis
• Voaltė
• University of Florida, Gator Engineering

“We are honored to help connect students with local employers to ensure a pipeline of future workforce talent, particularly in the high demand STEM-related fields,” shared Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce President, Kevin Cooper. “It’s through the power of partnerships with great organizations like CareerEdge and Sarasota County Schools that we are able to foster the next generation of innovators for Sarasota’s future.” Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, advised the students at the beginning of the event, “We want you to be successful in college and in your engineering programs, but we also want you to come back when you graduate. Today is about seeing that there are great engineering careers right here in Sarasota.”
Sarasota County Schools selected students from each area high school that have expre

CareerEdge Hosts National Workforce Development Meeting

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which has a network of 33 regional collaboratives in 26 states, gathered for a Site Director meeting this month in Tampa and was hosted by local National Fund member CareerEdge Funders Collaborative. The National Fund is a Washington D.C. based non-profit that focuses on economic and workforce prosperity by preparing individuals with in-demand skills, supporting local employers, and investing in economic growth. From January 24 to January 25, site directors from all of the collaboratives gathered for an informational and idea generating conference with the goal of continuing to make impactful change in each local workforce.

“We were thrilled to share what we have been working on in our region, and we are were eager to hear what other members are doing to assist their local workforce,” explains CareerEdge Executive Director and United Way Suncoast Sarasota Area President Mireya Eavey.

The two-day site director meeting will included discussions, roundtables and speakers on topics such as job quality, the tight labor market, barriers to success for workers and companies, promoting financial wellness, meeting the skilled-talent need and more.

Fred Dedrick, President and CEO of the National Fund, discussed the importance of these meetings saying, “We bring the local leaders of the National Fund network together to spread innovative ideas and successful programs and to develop shared solutions to common challenges. With more than 30 communities represented, the group was able to learn about the best models in the country and bring new approaches to their communities. We learn and grow from each other and advance the entire workforce development field as a result.

Federal Aid Assistance for Sarasota County Students

SARASOTA, Fla. (January 25, 2018) — The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a community collaboration targeting local college attainment rates, is offering free assistance to Sarasota County families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Trained community volunteers from CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, UnidosNow and United Way Suncoast, as well as financial aid officers from Ringling College of Art & Design, State College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and Keiser University, will offer guidance on completing the application. These FAFSA “Labs” are being offered to high school seniors at the following locations and dates:

• North Port High School— Tuesday, February 20, 3:00pm-8:00pm (Cafeteria)
6400 W Price Blvd., North Port, FL 34291
• Booker High School—Tuesday, March 6, 2:30pm-7:30pm (Media Center)
3201 N Orange Ave., Sarasota, FL 34234
• Sarasota High School—Tuesday, March 20, 3:00pm-8:00pm (Building 13, Room 101)
2155 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota, FL 34239

The FAFSA is required for any student applying for federal and state financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants, as well as for many scholarship programs. Through efforts made by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership last year, 45.5% of Sarasota County high school seniors competed the FAFSA. This is a 9.1% change over the previous application year, equating to an estimated additional $513,180 in Pell Grants awarded to Sarasota County students, according to the Florida College Access Network, with the average Pell grant award in 2016-17 of $3,740, and the maximum of $5,820.

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is a broad community collaborative known as a “Local College Access Network.” Lead agencies in the partnership include: Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County Schools, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. Additional support for these FAFSA assistance events comes from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI). CASI is an initiative of the Florida Philanthropic Network, made possible through funding from the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, to strengthen Local College Access Networks around the state.

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is dedicated to bringing together community partner organizations to build a competitive workforce for the region by supporting data-driven programs and collaborative actions which increase the number of college graduates in fields that are in high demand. “Millions of dollars in financial aid grants are left unclaimed every year because parents and students don’t complete the FAFSA,” noted Steve Cantees, Executive Director of High Schools for Sarasota County Schools. “Through the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, we are able to provide incredible support which will pay off in real college money for our students.”

Additional resources and event information can be found at www.t4tsarasota.org. For more information, please contact Mimi Cirbusova at mcirbusova@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.

CareerEdge Partners with 6 Local Dealerships to Fund Automotive Technician Program

Free Auto Training Flyer_001

Sarasota, FL (December 14, 2017): CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, in its ongoing mission to connect people to high demand, career-laddering occupations in the region, is partnering with six local automotive dealerships to offer a free short-term technician training program at Suncoast Technical College(STC).

Piloted this past fall with a class of ten Gettel Automotive entry-level employees, the “express” certification class will launch a second cohort of students in January with the additional dealerships on board to participate in this training program funded by CareerEdge through a donor with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Gettel Automotive, Sunset Auto Group, Peterson Toyota of Sarasota, Venice Honda, Venice Toyota and Wilde Automotive will hire individuals with no experience at $12 per hour for full or part-time trainee positions. The new hires must then attend a mandatory, free 11-week automotive training program at STC’s Beneva Road campus on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., January 16 to March 28, 2018.

Once participants complete the 11-week class, they will be paid $13 per hour full time with benefits, and will have the potential for additional certifications and growth at the dealerships. Average wages for mechanics are between $40,000 and $50,000.

Interested applicants should apply online directly at one of the following dealerships. These employers will choose the students for the free automotive technician training program.

• Gettel Automotive: http://gettel.applicantstack.com/x/openings
• Sunset Auto Group: https://sunsetautogroup.applicantpro.com/jobs/689331-236271.html
• Toyota of Sarasota: https://www.toyotaofsarasota.com/employment-application/
• Venice Toyota: https://www.venicetoyota.com/employment
• Venice Honda: https://www.venicehonda.com/employment
• Wilde Honda: https://www.gowildehonda.com/careers/

Program offers prospective CNAs free training, guaranteed employment

CNA Scholarships Info Sessions Flyer


Sarasota, FL. (December 5, 2017): Tidewell Hospice, the American Red Cross and CareerEdge are offering a free Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program with guaranteed employment for eligible participants interested in a healthcare career.

Thanks to an anonymous donor with Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the organizations are offering this opportunity for those who would like to work in healthcare but can’t afford CNA training. The costs of tuition and the state examination fee will be covered for those chosen for the program. Participants will only be responsible for their medical exam and the purchase of scrubs.

Upon successful completion of the training program, the CNA graduates will be guaranteed employment at Approved Home Health or Tidewell Hospice, with starting wages between $12 and $13 per hour.

The program will run Jan. 22, 2018, to March 31st 2018. Classes will be held from 5:00-9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (with two mandatory Saturday classes) at the American Red Cross office at 2001 Cantu Court, Sarasota. Applicants must pass a Level 2 background check per Florida healthcare regulations, submit to a motor vehicle record search and provide proof of auto insurance.

Prospective participants are invited to attend one of three information sessions. The sessions will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and Dec. 28 at Selby Library in Sarasota and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at Tidewell, 3550 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP for the information sessions at cnascholarships.eventbrite.com.

CareerEdge Partners with Manatee Technical College to Fill Plumbing and Electrical Jobs


Student, Samson Snyder, speaks with McDonough Plumbing about careers within the company and training opportunities.

Sarasota FL. (October 31, 2017): CareerEdge Funders Collaborative announces the completion of another “express” training course with the graduation of 16 individuals in Manatee Technical College’s pilot program in Plumbing and Electrical service.

Given the high demand for skilled workers in our region, CareerEdge is partnering with local educational institutions to provide short-term programs in order to quickly move individuals into apprenticeship-based occupations in the trades.

CareerEdge partnered with Manatee Technical College on the Plumbing and Electrician programs by helping to recruit individuals, providing funding for the courses and offering a soft skills training for the students.  Graduates of the 3-month program receive certifications in the following industry-recognized credentials: NCCER, CPR, Forklift and OSHA.

“MTC is thrilled to partner with CareerEdge to help meet the talent needs in the community.  Getting to know the students and seeing the impact they will have in the community is uplifting,” explains Manatee Technical College Business Services Director Martha Meyers.

Starting wages for these entry-level plumbing and electrical technician positions are approximately $15 per hour, with average wages between $40,000 and $50,000.  At the end of the program, CareerEdge organized a job fair with 10 local employers participating in the recruitment of the students.

Aqua Plumbing’s Service Manager Charlie Stephens said, “I was surprised at how much knowledge the students have for an express program and how eager they are to learn.  The future of the industry depends on programs like this.”

The next cohort of express programs will begin in January 2018, with a daytime Plumbing class and an evening Electrical course.

According to Mary Dougherty of Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, “Programs like this help to address the tight labor market local employers are dealing with.  It provides an on-ramp to career laddering jobs where employers can continue to develop these individuals through apprenticeship and work-based learning strategies.”

To learn more about upcoming express programs at Manatee Technical college, please contact Martha Meyers at 751-7900 X1022.


About CareerEdge Funders Collaborative

CareerEdge is an innovative partnership of business, government, and philanthropic organizations that leverages public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee and Sarasota counties.  The first regional collaborative of workforce investors in the southeastern United States to be designated as a site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, CareerEdge was created with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, City of Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Bank of America, Bradenton 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, and Manatee Community Action Agency.  It is also supported by contributions from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Microsoft, Sarasota County Government, Jane’s Trust, JP Morgan Chase, Scheidel Foundation, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and United Way Suncoast.  For more information about CareerEdge and its partners, please visit www.careeredgefunders.org or call 941.328.6985.



About Manatee Technical College

Manatee Technical College is a postsecondary career and technical education center with four campuses within the School District of Manatee County offering over 50 career preparation programs, continuing education, adult general education, and personal enrichment classes.  Manatee Technical College is fully accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.  The mission of MTC is to meet the ever-changing needs of our communities and the workforce by producing highly skilled individuals and resourceful leaders through collaborative education.