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Education Foundation launches student resource center downtown

LaunchPad4U, located in the Rosemary District, helps students prepare for life after high school.

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  • | 3:50 p.m. December 16, 2020
LaunchPad4U is located in the Rosemary District at 1413 Boulevard of the Arts to be centrally located for students. Harry Sayer
LaunchPad4U is located in the Rosemary District at 1413 Boulevard of the Arts to be centrally located for students. Harry Sayer
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Students unsure of which path to take after high school graduation now have another resource to help them decide.

The Education Foundation opened LaunchPad4U in the Rosemary District.

The center, 1413 Boulevard of the Arts, is available to students, teachers, parents and community partners. It is designed to be a learning lab to service pilot programs, meetings for volunteer mentors and workshops for teachers. 

Education Foundation Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Spalsbury said the Rosemary District was chosen for its ease of access.

“We wanted to have a location that can serve all students but be most accessible to low-income students and their families — including being on a bus line — especially for those who need access outside of school and working hours,” Spalsbury said.

The space was designed to serve as an extension of the work being done in Student Success Centers already in some high schools, including college and career advising as well as social and emotional support. 

Students can make appointments or walk in to receive help on such things as FAFSA applications and exploring career options. There are four Education Foundation employees based at LaunchPad4U.

Education Foundation President Jennifer Vigne said face-to-face interaction is critical to student success.

“Reaching students, wherever they may be, requires us to be agile and creative in quickly developing virtual platforms for advising, mentoring and instructive workshops,” Vigne said.

The center also will help expand the reach of PLANit Sarasota, formerly known as the Sarasota County Local College Access Network. PLANit Sarasota’s goal is to close achievement gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students, but with a focus on disadvantaged youth and first-generation college students. 

Additionally, the center will help service the foundation’s Teacher Leadership Center, a collaborative group in which teachers work to address student and community needs. At LaunchPad4U, teachers will have a say in their professional development and share ideas with others.

The center was in part made possible with a $50,000 grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

“We recognize the importance of supporting this work because it helps to harness and elevate our community’s resources — including financial means, intelligent innovation and human intervention,” Gulf Coast President and CEO Mark S. Pritchett said. “It also prevents overlap in services while extending the reach and impact of each group involved.”


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