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LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network

Community leaders knew that our area had a growing gap in the workforce pipeline. To meet the workforce needs in the coming decades, more of the adults who live here are going to need college degrees and industry certifications. Lots of organizations were addressing the issue, but there was no unified effort. Enter the Community Foundation Tampa Bay and a dozen other corporate, education, government and nonprofit partners to form the LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network. Its goal: For 60% of working age adults in the Tampa Bay area to have a degree or high-quality certificate by 2025.

LEAP’s Priorities

Helping people get the education they want, and the community get the talent it needs by:

  • Increasing opportunities for education and training through easier access to grants, scholarships and tuition reimbursement.
  • Building stronger business and education partnerships to develop more local talent for local jobs.
  • Supporting clear pathways and shorter, less costly time to completion of certificates and degrees.

How LEAP Tampa Bay Makes A Difference

  • College and Career Centers: LEAP and partners piloted the expansion of a high school-based, volunteer-led College and Career Center which has now been built out in 9 schools with grant funded site managers. Early indicators of impact show above average gains in financial aid applications for students at schools with College and Career Centers. 

  • Complete Tampa Bay (CTB): In November 2020, LEAP launched CTB, a college success coaching initiative to help students navigate getting into education and training programs and successfully complete them. Our completion coach has assisted over 1,500 students with information on how to get started with their post-secondary plans and has helped over 800 students with taking the next step in applying and enrolling in classes. 

  • Fuse Scholarship: LEAP and partners established a scholarship for students in the Fuse Guaranteed Admission to USF Program, which has now awarded nearly $2.7 million to over 480 students at HCC, SPC, PHSC & USF since 2018.

  • Your CollegeCares (YCC): LEAP Tampa Bay – in conjunction with its college and community partners – launched a new website, YourCollegeCares.org, to connect Tampa Bay college students to mental health resources. YCC was created to help destigmatize mental health support and increase access to existing resources on local college and university campuses and in the greater Tampa Bay community.

A LEAP Success Story

Michael Malcolm was sick for much of his childhood. Because he spent so much time with doctors and nurses, he was motivated to become a pediatrician. The native of Jamaica started on that path as a biomedical sciences student at Hillsborough Community College. During Michael’s first semester, HCC advisors invited him to participate in a new program that would make his path easier. FUSE showed him exactly what classes to take to reach his goal and gave him a seamless way to enter the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of South Florida from HCC. “I never felt alone throughout the entire process,” Michael said. Two years later, he graduated from HCC, entered USF and became the first recipient of a FUSE Scholarship, which helped offset the cost of his degree.

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