Earn to Learn Florida (ETLF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to empower income-challenged students to complete college, has been awarded $648,000 from AmeriCorps in partnership with Volunteer Florida.  The grant will fund 72 AmeriCorps members to be deployed as Near Peer Coaches for Postsecondary Success to serve 900 hours each during the program year August 1, 2021, through July 31, 2022

The funding is a part of a statewide initiative awarding $17,189,370 from AmeriCorps to fund 37 programs in 2021-2022. Cumulatively, these programs will recruit and manage 1,612 AmeriCorps members who will serve in 35 of Florida’s counties, contributing 1,981,575 total hours of service valued at $52,155,054.

AmeriCorps members are on the front lines of service to Florida’s communities and various areas of need,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Corey Simon. “With this year’s significant investment, we are excited to support the tremendous impact that these national service members will affect in schools, hospices, and state parks throughout the Sunshine State.”

“In 2020, an AmeriCorps grant launched our Near Peer Coaching for Secondary Success,” said Brenda Tate, CEO of Earn to Learn Florida.  “This year’s AmeriCorps funding will help additional students pursue their dream of completing a postsecondary education with little or no debt. We are grateful to Volunteer Florida for securing this funding for Florida’s students.”

Near Peer Success Coaches support students as they transition from high school to a postsecondary education institution. Members focus on advising students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, through the complex steps toward college enrollment, including the admission and financial aid processes.  The program targets economically disadvantaged students in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Lee, and Collier Counties, with plans to expand to other counties.  Each Near Peer Coach will receive a stipend of $9,900, plus a $3,000 scholarship for their continued education upon completion of 12 months of service.

Earn to Learn FL empowers low-to-moderate income students in Florida to earn college degrees and professional certifications with little or no debt through matched savings, personalized financial capability training, and success coaching. In addition, eligible students who establish a habit of saving for higher education can receive matching funds for financial assistance provided by Earn to Learn FL supporters committed to enhancing workforce development and the economic well-being of Florida communities. For more information, please visit EarntoLearnFL.org, or email Brenda Tate at Brenda@EarntoLearnFL.org.