Earn to Learn FL Success Story: Litzy Lerma

Litzy Lerma came into the Earn to Learn FL program in 2019, unsure of how she would attend college and earn a postsecondary degree without falling into major debt by taking out education loans. With guidance from Earn to Learn FL peer coaches, she received personal finance training learning about various topics related to her long-term financial well-being, like how to budget, among many other topics.

At Earn to Learn FL, students become investors in their own educational goals taking what they learn in personal finance training and applying it to their everyday life. Litzy set and achieved a goal to save $500 toward her education. In turn, Earn to Learn FL matched her savings goal with a $4,000 contribution toward her postsecondary education. This match was renewed every year until Litzy graduated.

Today, Litzy is slated to graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University in December 2022, completely debt free. She will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship. Her career goal is to be a restauranteur. She currently has a job lined up with a start-up, and she will continue to learn about the restaurant industry after graduation. Litzy says, “I don’t think I could have done amazing things without the help I received. School would have been completely different, and I would have taken a different path. I am a million times thankful every day, and I know my parents are grateful that I received this [opportunity] as well.”

Program Enter Date: 2019
College or university attended: Florida Gulf Coast University
Postsecondary Graduation date: December 2022
Debt status: Debt-free


Earn to Learn FL Announces Partnership with Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay

Earn to Learn FL (ETLFL), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that envisions a world without barriers to higher education, announces a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay for the 2022-2023 school year. Through the partnership, high school students at the Wilbert Davis Belmont Heights Club will have access to ETLFL Near Peer Coaches. The high school students will be eligible to apply for an Earn to Learn FL a 1-, 3, or 4-year tuition scholarship upon completing Personal Finance Training and opening a Florida 529 Savings Account during their senior year.

“We’re excited to partner with our colleagues from Earn to Learn FL. This will bring much-needed support to our youth for potential scholarship opportunities and provide dedicated mentors to our Club staff to focus on a variety of challenges,” says Terry Carter, President, and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.

“This is a great opportunity for our Club teens to utilize the support of the Earn to Learn FL coaches to help them set the foundation for their futures post high school graduation,” says Jason Jenkins, Director of Programs and Training, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay.

Earn to Learn FL, in partnership with Volunteer Florida, recruits, trains, and deploys AmeriCorps members to become Near Peer Coaches to income-challenged students in the areas of postsecondary access, personal finance training, and career planning. Near Peer Coaches support student preparation for pursuit of a non-degree award (career & technical education), associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. ETLFL Near Peer coaches are current college students who promote college success by supporting students and working through obstacles related to retention and degree completion.

“Our Near Peer Coaches are part of our formula for student success,” said Brenda Tate, Earn to Learn FL CEO. “We provide the near peer coaching, matched savings for education scholarships, and personal finance training. Our goal is that every student who participates in our programs completes their post-secondary education career ready, on time, and with little or no debt.”

For more information, email Brenda Tate at Brenda@EarntoLearnFL.org.