November 2017

Pensacola State College receives $1.3 million grant for its Veterans Upward Bound Program

Gulf Coast State College's Tyndall Air Force Base campus recognized as top 25 national military test center

Message from Chancellor Madeline Pumariega
Our colleges reflect our communities embracing both the young and elderly, the innovator and scholar, the veteran and entrepreneur. As our economy grows from startup businesses to automation and high tech jobs, our colleges remain focused on ensuring that a talented and high-skilled workforce is prepared to meet these demands. Launching programs that help students develop an entrepreneurial mindset to developing programs that help students reimagine the future through technology. 

Serving nearly 800,000 students annually, FCS institutions continue to fuel the state's workforce pipeline. Florida remains the number one certificate and associate degree producer in the nation and was recently ranked as a top state in the country for new startups by the   Kauffman Foundation's study . Miami is the number one startup city for new businesses in the nation, as shown in the study.  Miami Dade College plays a role with its Idea Center focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Success is the result of developing program curriculum in partnership with business and industry leaders to meet the needs of the ever-changing workforce. In fact, each of our colleges' workforce programs have business advisory boards and tailor curriculum, as well as programs to meet business needs. 

As we close November, a month we celebrate gratitude and our veterans, I would like to thank our brave military servicemen and servicewomen who daily devote their lives to our freedoms and to the principles of the American Dream. Our veterans return home to reestablish their lives through continued education and work. In response, many of our colleges are answering the needs of their community through exemplary programs tailored to assist veterans who seek to further their education. 

For example, Hillsborough Community College (HCC) has emerged as a national leader in community college entrepreneurship education and has developed Operation Startup (OPSU), a program that provides veterans with access to mentoring, educational programs, early stage business accelerator and numerous networking opportunities. Another effective program that promotes an entrepreneurial mindset is Gulf Coast State College's Entrepreneurship Simulation Lab (ENT-Lab). The ENT-Lab covers three dimensions: experiential learning through community/corporate partnerships, program affordability and accessibility.

I am proud of our outstanding colleges who demonstrate excellence in pursuing an entrepreneurial mindset and excel at partnering with local business leaders and industries who contribute their time and resources to promote the work of the Florida College System. Such partnerships provide valuable support for college students and those seeking to re-enter the workforce as they often balance the demands of postsecondary education, family and work. 

I look forward to continued partnerships with our colleges and stakeholders in the coming year as we seek to elevate best practices and student achievement across the state.
With great appreciation,

Madeline Pumariega
GCSCGulf Coast State College's Entrepreneurship Simulation Lab 
Gulf Coast State College's (GCSC) Entrepreneurship Simulation Lab (ENT-Lab) is a  teaching initiat ive that not only focuses on providing students with a real-life challenge, but also encompasses a mix of programmatic and scheduling practices to maximize student services and high economic impact. The ENT-Lab covers three dimensions including experiential learning through community/corporate partnerships, program affordability and accessibility. Students are matched with  lo cal employers or non-profit organizations to develop and implement solutions that will create value for the selected organization. Through the use of mentors, open-source materials, real companies and their resources, GCSC has lowered the cost of educational materials. The programs help increase accessibility for students by creating flexible schedules, as well as offering 8-week hybrid courses in 90 percent of the college's certificate programs and 80 percent of the bachelor program. Community service integration has been key to foster community economic development and a constant marketing presence for both GCSC and its ENT-Lab.

The ENT-Lab provides students with the opportunity to test their abilities in various disciplines, industries and markets, while highlighting their skills to potential employers and building a stronger sense of community ownership and stewardship. In the program's first year, only one class used the ENT-Lab. Now, more than 10 courses apply the lab's methodology. The program has served as a foundation to receive a variety of grants. Students have received more than 10 grants. Most recently, students have launched a new entrepreneurial mentoring program for at-risk youth and teens on probation. The students are currently in the process of expanding the program to other schools. This initiative has inspired other faculty and their students to replicate its principles.

Since the program's inception, GCSC has achieved a 136 percent enrollment increase for the Bachelor of Applied Science program and a 57 percent increase in degrees awarded. GCSC has also achieved a 267 percent increase in degrees awarded for the certificate programs. The college's retention rate has increased from 56 percent in 2014 to 73 percent as of August 2017.  Students have been involved in more than 20 community service projects resulting in positive student engagement with the community. These achievements have led to a wide range of local, regional and national recognition. Students earned first place in a national competition sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, "Rookie-of-the-year," in an entrepreneurial national competition hosted by Enactus , a GCSC team focused on social entrepreneurship, innovation and community empowerment. Students were also regional champions in 2016 by the same organization. The program has received more than 2 million media impressions since 2013. 
The Higher Education Coordinating Council's "RISE to 55" Campaign  
By 2025, more than 60 percent of Florida's jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate. Currently, only 47 percent of working-age residents are currently equipped to fill these job positions.To bridge the gap, the Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC) is calling on its partners to help reach a statewide educational attainment goal of 55 percent by 2025. Last year, Lumina Foundation set a cumulative nationwide goal of 60 percent attainment to ensure our nation's viability in a competitive global economy. The Foundation then challenged each state to adopt a statewide attainment goal and develop a comprehensive action plan for achievement. This movement sparked the "RISE to 55" initiative.

The Florida College System (FCS) supports the work of the "RISE to 55" campaign. FCS Chancellor and member of the HECC Madeline Pumariega has led two of the five convenings. The first convening was hosted at North Florida Community  College and the second was at Florida State University Panama City, which attracted local media. Leaders in business, government and economic development gathered to discuss the anticipated gap between Florida jobs requiring postsecondary education and the availability of qualified workers to fill them. Conven ings around the state provide opportunities to educate, inspire and enlist stakeholders as HECC's "boots on the ground."

Representatives from the State of Florida, Florida College System, Florida State University System and local industries led an interactive discussion on the importance of raising attainment rates to fulfill future workforce needs, with an in-depth look at the potential impacts of  higher educational attainment on local communities. Discussions regarding identification of community partners who could lead the charge locally also took place, which will help launch and champion locally coordinated efforts, driving attainment increases in each county that will help Florida achieve the goal of "RISE to 55." According to Florida College Access Network, of recent high school graduates who do not continue their education, only half are working by the following fall and earn less than $8 an hour on average. Access to education helps break inter-generational poverty, said Pumariega. The goal is to create better pathways for students to get them in college, keep them in college and funnel them into a job, said Pumariega.

"This is about building stronger communities across Florida," Pumariega said. "It is about helping to give the resources that are needed to businesses so that we can build a stronger economy for Florida."

L to R: Lumina Foundation Higher Education Policy Consultant Nicole Washington, Florida College Access Network Executive Director Laurie Meggesin, State of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and FCS Chancellor Madeline Pumariega. 
It is important to encourage high school students to continue their education, entice working-age residents to return to school to further their educ ati on  and attract educated populations from outside of Florida to plant their roots here. The outcomes of the HECC's "RISE to 55" campaign will support these efforts by identifying the key drivers of educational attainment in each region and how to strengthen the pipeline  to  po stsecondary education. Stakeholders must work collaboratively to make postsecondary education more accessible. Florida's colleges exist to serve the communities in which they are located and should strive to align with the workforce training needs of local partners and industries. It is key to ensure career opportunities exist in Florida for continued professional growth.

The "RISE to 55" campaign is made possible by Lumina Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, CareerSource Florida and  Florida College Access Network. Subsequent convenings will take place in the Tampa, Orlando and Miami metro regions for the continued search of champions. Times and locations will be announced at a later date.

If you are wondering how to champion educational attainment in your community, follow these steps: contact the Higher Education Coordinating Council to identify yourself as the local leader of "RISE to 55;" launch a local "RISE to 55" coalition; invite a member of the HECC to speak at your organization's next board of directors or membership meeting; adopt an educational attainment goal specific to your region and include it in your organization's strategic plan; identify other organizations to champion "RISE to 55;" add the campaign logo to your website and link to; post a blog about the importance of educational attainment and the "RISE to 55" goal; provide a testimonial about the impact of education on your life for the HECC to incorporate into "RISE to 55" marketing collateral. 
Veterans Day is a time to honor the heroes who selflessly risk and have lost their lives to protect ours. John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Our colleges strive to support veterans and their families through educational programs and networking opportunities. Hillsborough Community College (HCC) serves as one great example. HCC's Operation Startup (OPSU) program is an entrepreneurship and innovation center offering free resources to military veterans and active duty service members, along with their spouses and civilian business partners. The program provides a collaborative space for business development teams to meet and develop socially impactful businesses that help transform communities and promote service. Not only does this collaborative activity result in community success, but it also results in individual success.

Operation Startup is a partnership with Hillsborough County government and HCC that helps servicemen and servicewomen develop their business ideas and seek assistance to fill the gaps in order to help these veterans realize and fulfill their full potential. Operation Startup is designed for Vetrepreneurs, a term that the program uses to describe a person who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces and transitioned, or prepares to transition, to civilian life by organizing and managing an enterprise, especially with considerable initiative and risk but with the same dedication as to their service. It provides the veteran entrepreneurial community with access to mentoring, educational programs, early stage business accelerator, events and networking opportunities with local, regional and national partners. The program serves early-stage entrepreneurs by helping to develop viable, sustainable businesses. These services help reduce factors that contribute to business failure and in turn increases the likelihood of successful startups. Operation Startup empower s veterans to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and provides an opportunity to rise above the many challenges facing veterans.

Within Operation Startup is the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program which offers students tuition-free, online and on-campus instruction designed to match with an individual's level of knowledge and schedule. This program provides three pathways of instruction including online lessons that will familiarize students with basic terminology and concepts, specialized workshops held on the campuses of its six academic partners, and an advanced on-campus program that delves more deeply into all aspects of entrepreneurship. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program network compromises of six universities across the state with established small business programs and expert instructors. These include the University of Central Florida, University of West Florida, University of North Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Florida Atlantic University. Approximately $4 million in revenue has been generated by the program's graduates, 307 veterans have completed programs, 50 businesses have been opened and 27 hires have been made to date. Just recently, HCC was selected by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to participate  in the Hard Hat Heroes program, which offers veterans free online courses that lead to certification in skills learned while serving in the armed forces. 
Michael Rooney - Florida Gateway College  

Michael Rooney is a veteran of the Army who is now a student at Florida Gateway College. Rooney served in the Iraq conflict and earned a campaign medal and an army achievement medal, as well as other awards. Rooney is pursuing an Associate in Science degree in Nursing and would eventually like to become a physician's assistant. This year, Rooney has taken six courses and stands out among his peers by having some of the highest grades within his class. 
Rooney has proven to be a leader in his classes by participating and explaining complex ideas disussed to his peers. Rooney manages to stay successful in his classes despite being called into military service to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma earlier this year. As a medic in the Army, Rooney was vital in emergency operations conducted immediately after the storm. Upon his return, Rooney demonstrated his resilience and dedication to obtaining an education by arriving prepared for class and performing well on his assignments. According to his professor, Dr. Juan Guzman, Rooney continues to provide a great example among students, faculty and staff he meets.
The Florida College System thanks Rooney for his service to our country, to his fellow comrades and for his dedication to continuously learning, excelling in his studies and ensuring he obtains a higher education. 
Faculty and Administrators: Nominate a Student to be the Chancellor's Clark Maxwell Scholar Student of the Month
In honor of the late Chancellor Clark Maxwell Jr., each month a student is selected to represent the Florida College System. Nominations for the Student of the Month are accepted on a rolling basis. If you know a student who demonstrates exemplary leadership skills, academic success, and/or commitment to community service through their involvement in the Florida College System, nominate them today!
Eastern Florida State College's Military and Veterans Service Center 
At Eastern Florida State College (EFSC), veterans and active duty military are part of student life on campus. About 800 of these individuals are enrolled as students at EFSC, including veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and service members stationed at nearby Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard bases. EFSC strives to meet their specialized needs through its Military and Veterans Service Center located on the Cocoa and Melbourne Campuses. The center ensures timely and accurate service to vets in both the classroom and their personal lives. The center facilitates veterans' access to government benefits to help them reach their educational goals. Additionally, it lends a helping hand to their families.

EFSC's main center is located at the Cocoa office located on the first floor of the Student Center housed in Building 11. It offers a space for tutoring, group study, computer use and socializing. It also includes multiple rooms to meet with officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled Veterans of America and other service organizations. The growing Melbourne campus office, located on the first floor of Building 1, will also provide more space along with key services. In the meantime, center advisors visit veterans in the Palm Bay and Titusville campuses weekly. Advisors also visit Patrick Air Force Base regularly to assist active duty service members along with those stationed at the Coast Guard Station and Naval Ordinance Test Unit at Port Canaveral.

EFSC is holding more veteran's resource fairs to connect vets with community agencies specializing in veteran issues. The college's Student Access for Improved Learning (SAIL) office, which provides assistance that helps support students with a disability or unique ability, also plays an important role. The SAIL office offers additional services that help veterans dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries, said Kimberly Koplar, EFSC's Coordinator for Military and Veterans Services.

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved on campus for veterans who are interested. For example, veterans have the opportunity to join the Collegiate Veterans Society with chapters on the Cocoa, Melbourne and Palm Bay campuses, as well as the college-wide Student Veterans of America. 
Thank You to Our Sponsor of the 2017 Chancellor's Best Practice Awards 
Josephine Di Russo - Bright Futures Scholarship Recipient

Josephine Di Russo is a student at Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) who plans to pursue a degree in International and Global Studies and obtain a career that relates with international connections to people all around the world. Di Russo is interested in working with international nonprofit organizations like UNICEF or international relations organizations like the United Nations or the U.S. Department of State. Di Russo currently holds an impressive 4.0 GPA and is active in extracurricular activities. She is a member of the Student Government Association and is the Lieutenant Governor in the Florida District of Circle K International, a collegiate organization dedicated to service and leadership development with more than 500 clubs nationwide in nine countries. Additionally, Di Russo is a member in the International Expansion Committee at Circle K International. Just recently, Di Russo was recognized with the Commissioner's Leadership Award at the State Board of Education meeting. After graduating from LSSC, Di Russo plans to do DirectConnect to UCF, a program that guarantees admission to the University of Central Florida with an associate degree from one of its partner colleges, to complete her bachelor's degree. Di Russo plans to obtain a graduate degree afterwards. Only time will tell where she will obtain it and where it will take her.