It's Never Too Early



Studies have shown that the earlier students are introduced to the concept of going to college, the more likely they are to actually do so. Principal Steve Royce has been trailblazing academic programming at Gocio Elementary to ensure that students are aware of post-secondary opportunities. A strategic partnership with the newly-formed Two Steps Further Private Foundation, Inc. enhances that work. The foundation was created by the Studdiford kids, three local siblings, ages 12, 14 and 16 who came up with the idea together, determined to find a way to help other kids receive higher education. The first school to implement this program is Gocio, where it has already received high praise from the parents and the school community.

From 2nd-5th grade, students who complete their work on a computer based program called i-Ready, which predicts performance on state assessments, will be able to put money toward a college fund. The work that the student completes each month gets converted into a dollar amount that is then contributed to their own 529 College Savings Plan. Gocio also catalyzed a program with the Ringling College of Art & Design where all of their 3rd grade students are invited to visit the campus, giving them the first-hand opportunity to see a local private arts college. In 4th grade, they visit the State College of Florida to experience a technical community college. Last week, the 5th grade students got to travel to University of South Florida-Tampa to participate in its Engineering Day, when students majoring in engineering present the projects they’ve been working on all semester. The Gocio students were able to interact with the college students to learn about the design behind their engineering projects.

“A lot of times when we talk to our students, we tell them they should go to college," says Principal Royce. "But for them to actually get to walk on college grounds and be able to see what it would look like really makes it real. It goes from this mythical thing to something that they're able to understand and say ‘Wow this is what it would be like.’ We're giving them the chance to not only experience what it looks like at three different types of colleges, but also with our partnership with Two Steps Further, through their generosity, provide funding in order to make college a reality. We’re really creating dreams for these children.” The program just launched last week and he’s already heard one student saying, “I want to go to college now!” Millenials watch out, Generation Z kids appear ambitious enough to become the brightest demographic cohort to society.

About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County: The Community Foundation is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of over $333 million in more than 1,400 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling more than $33 million dollars this past year in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, animal welfare, and the environment. Since our founding, more than $217 million has been invested back into the community through grants and scholarships.

Community Foundation of Sarasota

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