For Third Straight Year, Sarasota County Schools Lead State in Pell Grant Pursuit

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The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a collective impact team of local organizations focused on increasing college and credential attainment in Sarasota County, announces that the Sarasota County School District has been recognized as having the highest FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate in the state, according to the Florida College Access Network (FCAN). This is the third year in a row that Sarasota County has been named number one in the state for “Large Districts” in FCAN’s annual Florida FAFSA Challenge.

2018 FAFSA Photo 1

Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid for college, as well as a leading indicator of college attendance. But research indicates that Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in federal Pell Grants alone by not completing the form. Through targeted efforts developed by Talent4Tomorrow in partnership with the school district, 47.8% of Sarasota County high school seniors completed the FAFSA as of March 31, 2018. According to FCAN, the incremental increase in FAFSA completion over the last two years has resulted in approximately $800,000 in additional Pell grants available for Sarasota County graduates to pursue their higher-education goals, with the average student award approximately $4,000.

“The Talent4Tomorrow initiative demonstrates an example of a true collaboration between a broad range of organizations coming together for a common goal – the future of our community’s youth.  The Chamber believes strongly in this alliance and the outcomes are a testament to the strength and commitment that the partners bring to the table,” said Kevin Cooper, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce which serves as the ‘backbone’ organization for Talent4Tomorrow.

Innovative Strategies

Talent4Tomorrow partners worked with the District to implement several strategies that assisted graduating high school seniors and their families with completing the financial aid form. Talent4Tomorrow hosted FAFSA labs at high schools, with support from local college financial aid officers and other community volunteers, to assist students and their parents in the application process. It also implemented a communications plan to raise awareness about FAFSA that included flyers, text messages, emails, classroom visits, morning announcements, outreach to youth-serving partners and the faith-based community, press releases, and social media posts.

2018 FAFSA Photo 2

The Partnership developed some new techniques this year, such as the innovative use of Snapchat geofilters, introduced by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and piloted at Booker High School. A geofilter is similar to a frame or sticker that can go on a Snapchat photo and is shared with the user’s friends. An organization or individual pays to have the filter available in Snapchat for a specific location and period of time. With approval from the school, the electronic FAFSA lab filter was made available in the cafeteria for the students. On lab day alone, the filter was swiped by 367 students, and 64 of them posted these framed photos on their account, which resulted in 2,900 views of the FAFSA filter.

According to FCAN, Booker High School had the second-highest completion rate improvement in the District compared to last year, with a 9% increase.  The Snapchat strategy was seen as a positive application of a platform used by students daily. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership plans to expand the use of this social media tool next year and will continue to look for ways to engage and connect with students on the value of completing the FAFSA.

Support for these programs and events comes from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with matching funds from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI), which is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

More information about FCAN and the FAFSA Challenge Winners is available here.


About the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership

Talent4Tomorrow was launched by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in 2013 to cultivate a competitive regional workforce by developing a talent pipeline for area students to enter local jobs that are in high demand. Initially a broad-based regional business and education collaborative, it has since sharpened its focus on improving college attainment for Sarasota County youth. It serves as Sarasota’s “Local College Access Network,” or LCAN, coordinating the diverse efforts of a team of community partners to increase college and career preparation, access, and completion. It is one of nine such regional groups, representing 22 counties, aligned with the statewide Florida College Access Network (FCAN). Leadership of the collaborative includes the following organizations: Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County School District, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. Additionally, more than 30 other nonprofits, businesses, and educational institutions participate as implementation partners, making it possible to deliver programs and services to students and their families.

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The Q Dash Scavenger Hunt: 5 Reasons to Join in the Fun

Sarasota’s most unique downtown scavenger hunt is back! The 2nd Annual Q Dash Scavenger Hunt, hosted by the Sarasota Young Professionals Group, will take place on Saturday, March 3, 2018, from 2-5 p.m. Teams of four will compete to decode clues and find landmarks throughout downtown Sarasota and earn points by posting on social media.

Wondering if you should join in on the fun? Here are 5 reasons why you’ll regret not signing up:

Compete for a Grand Prize package…and bragging rights.

            Teams earn points by decoding clues and discovering landmarks throughout the city. When teams find a correct landmark, they will post a photo on social media, which alerts our Q Dash judges to add points to their total score. The team with the most points will win a Grand Prize package of goodies from local businesses and organizations, including Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Escape Countdown, Bookstore1, Penzey’s Spices, and more! Even if you don’t win the Grand Prize, there are still opportunities to win prizes with the Judge’s Choice for Most Creative Photo, Best Team Costume, and Best Wrong Answer.

 

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“The Tape Players” team from Intertape Polymer Group hamming it up in the
2017 Q Dash Scavenger Hunt.

 

It’s a cheap, fun way to get your team out of the office and do some real team-building.

Looking to re-energize your staff and help them connect outside the office walls? The Q Dash is a wonderful team-building experience! Learn about your staff’s areas of strength and how they work together to solve problems in a new context, all while having FUN!

Being new to Sarasota can be an advantage.

            You might wonder it life-long Sarasotans will be more likely to find the landmarks, but that simply isn’t true. Q Dash Co-Chair, Andrea Knies, says “Having a diverse team really makes a big difference. Newcomers to the area will have fresh eyes, and spot things that those who grew up here easily overlook.”

 

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Team “Where the Wild Things Are” spot a mosaic in Burns Court

 

Discover a side of downtown you didn’t know.

The Q Dash is all about noticing. One of the common themes we heard from our participants last year was that they noticed interesting buildings, public art, and other quirky landmarks that they hadn’t before; even after walking past them hundreds of times. In the year since our first Q Dash Scavenger Hunt, we’ve added lots of new landmarks and expanded the bonus menu—keeping even the most seasoned Sarasotans on their toes!

 

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The “K2 Mountain Climbers” enjoying specialty cocktails at MeLange.

 

 

Sample food and drink at the Q Dash Pit Stops.

Need a break and time to re-strategize? Check in at one of our Pit Stops, like Louies Modern! Enjoy complimentary food and drinks while reviewing the Clue Book.


Register Here!

TEAMS OF 4 – $80

Contact Mimi Cirbusova, Q Dash Coordinator, for more information: mcirbusova@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.

Your Chamber Focusing on Education & Workforce

Friday, February 2, was deemed unofficially, “Education & Workforce Day” at The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce as we hosted two separate events both focused on connecting students to the local business community to enlighten young talent of the job opportunities in the area.

Experience Engineering Luncheon

The first event was the 3rd Annual “Experience Engineering Luncheon” at Suncoast Technical College, where 125 high school juniors and seniors met with engineers from 22 local companies to discuss career and educational pathways into engineering. The engineers, ranging in areas of specialty, also brought examples of their company’s products, diagrams, and project plans to help illustrate how they solve problems with engineering.

“We are honored to help connect students with local employers to ensure a pipeline of future workforce talent, particularly in the high demand STEM-related fields,” shared The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce President, Kevin Cooper. “It’s through the power of partnerships with great organizations like CareerEdge and Sarasota County Schools that we are able to foster the next generation of innovators for Sarasota’s future.” Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, advised the students at the beginning of the event, “We want you to be successful in college and in your engineering programs, but we also want you to come back when you graduate. Today is about seeing that there are great engineering careers right here in Sarasota.”

The event was hosted by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and Sarasota County Schools Career and Technical Education Program.


USFSM-Chamber Job Shadowing Event

The second event was a pilot program by USF Sarasota-Manatee and The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce to provide students with one-on-one, executive-level job-shadowing experiences with Chamber Board of Directors.

For two hours, 11 USFSM students “shadowed” local executives to learn the intricacies of their businesses, how they evolved through emerging technology, regulations and changing public attitudes, and, generally, what the executives do on a day-to-day basis.

After the session, the students and executives attended a lunch and networking event at The Chamber where the teams shared their views about the experience.

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The idea, according to Jay Riley, director of business development and engagement at USFSM, was to enhance the students’ education while providing “an authentic context” of the workplace.

Chamber President Kevin Cooper said one intention of the shadowing session was to convince students about the Sarasota-Manatee area’s many job opportunities.

“Awareness is a critical pathway to success,” he said. “We want students to be aware of the many opportunities present in Sarasota and employers to be aware of the homegrown talent emerging from our educational institutions.”

Both of these programs are examples of the ways your Chamber is connecting its members to the future workforce. Attracting and retaining talent in Sarasota is key to economic development and reducing the skills gap.

Small Business Award Nominations are LIVE!

Do you know of a deserving local business member you would like to nominate for a small business award? Follow the link below to nominate a member for this prestigious honor. The six categories include:

Health Care & Wellness Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

Lakewood-Ranch-for-print

Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

SRQ-Airport-for-print

Non-Profit Organization of the Year

Sponsorship Available. Contact Brittany Lamont for more information.

Products & Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

KB Trio Logo

Professional Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Retail Business Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

Shumaker Registered

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Presenting Sponsor & Top Honor Small Business of the Year

The winner of this category will be chosen from the category winners above.
Sponsored by:
Nominations for the 28th Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will close on February 16. Applications for the Small Business Awards are available now and self-nominations are encouraged.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be a local business with 75 employees or less and a Sarasota Chamber member in good standing.
  • Must be a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
  • Must be a locally-owned and operated “bricks and mortar” business under the same ownership for a minimum of three (3) years.
Please note: Nominees MUST fill out an application to be eligible for an award. We will inform your nominee of their nomination, send them the application, but it is their choice whether or not they apply. Self-nominations are accepted.
Only ONE SUBMISSION per nominee necessary.
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To view our members please visit www.sarasotachamber.com/directory.
For information on this year’s Small Business Awards, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.

Where Our Delegation Stands

On January 9th, the Florida Legislature began it’s 2018 Regular Session. Much of what transpires over the next 60-days can have a significant impact on our region and on your business. From the bills to the budget, your elected officials are hard at work shaping next year’s path for the state of Florida. We want you to be tuned into what funding and legislation your local delegates are working on in Tallahassee this year.

Please click on the images to view a list of those current efforts:

 

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So, What’s Your Story?

3 Ways Storytelling Can Help Boost Your Business.

Surprisingly, though, during the many feedback sessions I led at Booth, no one asked me exactly how they could demonstrate “fit.” The answer I would have given? Successful applicants weave compelling narratives that demonstrate how their sparkling qualifications, values, and goals align with Booth’s.
That rule applies across the board: Whether you’re applying for an elite MBA program or trying to win investors and woo early adopters for your startup, it’s essential to convey that you and your audience are a perfect match. After all, as entrepreneurs, we’re all in a perpetual “competitive admissions” game. Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t trying to persuade others to join us in some effort. That means that we have to prove our “fit” day after day.
storytelling
Stories create that sense of fit. Even if you have a Ph.D. or MBA from a top-tier university, even if you’ve led the most respected company in your field, even if you’ve done the most extensive market research possible, the story you have to tell is always going to be worth more than strong qualifications alone. Time and time again, the people with the most compelling stories stand out.

Stories, in short, enable you to prove your value, paving the way to accomplish your goals. How do you find those stories? Here’s how.

Storytelling connects us with what our audience needs.

Say you have a business (maybe you already do.) You love the products you’ve designed. You’re proud of the services you’ve worked so hard to offer. But, focusing on your products, your services, your company isn’t what your audience needs. If you want to persuade anyone to act on the information you give them, you have to shift perspectives.

Several years ago, I worked with a real estate investment trust hedge fund to revamp its pitch book. At the time, the fund’s leaders were having trouble raising more assets to manage. As I looked through their existing pitch book, I noticed that every slide was answering the same question: “We are SO awesome; why wouldn’t any client want to invest with us?”

Of course, that’s what most investment funds’ pitch books look like. Like most of their competitors, they were preoccupied with themselves.

So, my work with them began. And, in time,, they shifted toward anticipating prospective clients’ questions instead of focusing on themselves. Questions began to emerge for the pitch book — questions that a client would ask: “How did the fund have such stellar performance for so long?” and “Can the team continue its track record?”

The pitch book we completed used these questions to tell the firm’s story. It worked so well that the firm achieved its asset-raising goals within 18 months!

Storytelling differentiates us, giving us a competitive edge.

Unfortunately, your company’s long lists of accomplishments don’t give prospective clients a way to see how you’re different from other equally impressive startups. You need accomplishments plus an emotional incentive. When faced with many similar-sounding options, people make choices based on how they feel about a business and its leaders. So, make sure that business is yours.

A powerful Radio Lab episode, Overcome by Emotion, illustrates this. It tells the story of a hard-working accountant who developed a brain tumor. After having surgery, he lost his ability to make decisions. Why? The surgery cut him off from his “emotional mind,” making him “pathologically indecisive.” Emotions are critical to our decision-making capacity. As author Alan Weiss has noted, “Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act.”

Di Fan Liu, an onshore private banker in Beijing, is someone I know who uses storytelling to speak to his customers’ anxieties. Liu and his firm know that their potential customers struggle to pass their wealth to the next generation. So, when they pitch their services to ultra-rich Chinese entrepreneurs, they tell stories about multi-generational family businesses that have succeeded in handing down wealth.

The catch? All the stories come from countries other than China. The company then asks potential customers to think of a fellow Chinese entrepreneur who has successfully done the same. Most of Liu’s audience can’t name a single one. This is the point at which they’re ready to hear about what his company has to offer them.

Do what he did: Once you anticipate your audience members’ emotions, tell the story they need. As I discuss in my book, Let the Story Do the Work, plot strongly influences the emotions your audience feels. For instance, shaping your business’s story as a “quest” narrative can make your audience feel restless, ready to achieve more than what life currently offers.

Storytelling establishes our personal credibility.

People don’t just want to buy a product or engage a service; they want to know what the people leading the business are like. And, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini‘s research on social influence, we tend to like people we imagine as being like us. We’re more likely to form a stronger connection with them and more likely to find their ideas persuasive!

Leading a business provides countless opportunities to demonstrate that you are like your clients. After all, clients often ask us, “So . . . tell me about yourself.” We can answer this with a story that is universal enough to make clients consider how similar our experiences are to their own.

Entrepreneur Kelly Standing of Standing Media tells a story that, thankfully, has not happened to everyone. When asked to say something about herself, she describes how her father saved her life after a bully left her hanging from a tree. Standing’s “worst nightmare” scenario is one any parent (or anyone with a similar, personal story of resilience) could relate to. And, so, it resonates.

In the perpetual competitive admissions game, stories prove our “fit.” But that doesn’t mean only “born” storytellers can succeed as entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that anyone can learn the methods for telling a brilliant story, and that once you’ve learned these methods, you will reach goals you never thought possible.


Article  from Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/305062

10 Tips To Get Your Press Release Picked Up

The Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (CWC-FPRA) hosted its annual Media Breakfast on November 15, 8 – 11 a.m., at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and Dillon Buckland, the Communications Coordinator for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, was in attendance to get tips and tricks for our members from the source itself.

media breakfast

The program began with a panel discussion featuring area broadcast media representatives, who discussed the ways local news outlets are reinventing themselves across multiple platforms, from traditional TV shows to social content, live streaming, and digital-only channels. Following the panel discussion, a series of rotating roundtables gave attendees the opportunity to speak with 8-10 media representatives from a variety of media formats, who offered their expertise and advice for story pitching and developing authentic relationships with the media.

Here’s a quick list of 10 tips to get your press release picked up by our local media:

  1. Develop a working relationship with your press contact.This way you can follow up easier and you already have a relationship so your story may be more likely to be picked up.
  2. Make your introduction emails with the press release personal to your press contact“I really enjoyed ____ story you did.” or “____ is why this is important to be shared with the community.”
  3. Put your “News Hat” on!if you were a reporter, would you find this to be news-worthy? Some things don’t need a press release and can be pushed out on social media.
  4. Do some research on the media outlets and compare what is written about with similar companies.
  5. Subject Lines should be straight-forward and direct.
  6. Your “Who, What, Where…” should be brief.Some media outlets get HUNDREDS of press releases a day so your press release shouldn’t go past a page. Chances are that no one is reading past the first or second paragraph.
  7. Your news can get picked up off social media, too! – Most rely on sending press releases as the only way to get news out but reporters and media look for stories off of social media.
  8. Follow-up phone calls work BUT use sparingly. – If you call on every one of your press releases, you may tarnish your relationship with that media contact.
  9. Media outlets like stories of a local business doing something regional or national.
  10. Include Photos & Videos!These can be a huge asset to getting your story picked up! High-Resolution Photos are a requirement. Videos are preferred landscape and only need to be 30 seconds. (Please note: If utilizing our press release tool, please include [Photos/Video available on request at youremail@email.com]).

This year’s media representatives included:

  • Brian Ries – Herald-Tribune, Digital Editor
  • Lisa O’Driscoll – funmoneymom.com, Blogger
  • Joey Panek – ABC7, Suncoast View Senior Producer
  • Jacob Ogles – SRQ Magazine, Senior Editor
  • Jacqueline Matter – ABC7, Anchor
  • Kat Hughes – Observer Media Group, Executive Editor
  • Richard Dymond – Bradenton Herald, Education Reporter
  • Megan McDonald – Sarasota Magazine, Digital Editor
  • Joey West – Bay News 9, Assignment Editor
  • Marcel Bauduin – WSRQ Radio, Programming Coordinator

 


If you have questions on crafting or sending press releases, please contact Dillon Buckland at dbuckland@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4039.