Jim Carter

By: Jim Carter, Ph.D.

The Men’s Republican Club of Collier County has always been committed to financially supporting some of Collier County’s high school graduates with pursuing a higher education. Over the years, our scholarship program has evolved from one award to three. The dollar amount now stands at $3500.00.

The recipients appear grateful at the time of the award, however we never hear from them again. Part of the problem was that we don’t have a consistent follow- up system. Our recipient’s attend universities and colleges all over the county and seldom return to Collier County. This has given us reason to change the process and reevaluate our scholarship process.
We know there is a high demand for technicians and skilled trade training. Many in this group need financial assistance to initiate and complete their program. Also, when these students complete their training 85 – 90% stay in Collier County. We have also learned that high school students with 4.0 averages will most likely go to college and tend to be successful with their life goals. However, not all high school students do well in high school, but have ambition and desire to be successful. These potential students need help, mentoring and financial assistance.

Therefore, our Scholarship Committee is doing the following:

  • Bring our narrowly focused program to closure with the awarding of 3 college scholarships for this year to be presented at our June meeting.
  • Present four (4) programs alternatives to membership for consideration. These possibilities focus on our local educational institutions which include two (2) and four (4) year programs. They provide needed skills education to meet our communities’ growing demand for trained workforce professionals.
  • Educational resources under consideration are:
    • Lorenzo Walker Technical College (LWTC). They offer over 25 programs that provide state of the art career and technical courses. Programs include: Air Conditions, Refrigeration and Heating, Air Craft Mechanics, Automotive Service Technology, Welding, Cosmetology, to name a few. Most of these are two year programs. Located in Collier County.
    • Florida Southwest College (FSWC) -2 & 4 year programs that provide Associate and Bachelor degrees or certificates programs. For example: School of Health professionals prepare graduates in Cardiovascular Technology, Nursing, Radio Technology and Paramedics. They provide state of the art career and technical course leading to quick employment upon graduation. Located in Collier County.
    • Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers (FGCU).. About 45% of students come from Southwest, Florida. However, only about 13% of alums live in Collier County. There are five (5) colleges within Florida Gulf Coast. They ae working on developing Master Degree programs.
    • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) also located in Fort Myers conducted at FGCU. This gives students exposure, 9th, 10th, 11th grade, via a summer program. Most of these students come from high risk environments. This program includes field trips to research and engineering companies where these skills are required in order to gain employment. It shows these young people that they do have options. Instructors are provided by the University.

Two of the institutions (FSWC, FGCU) will focus on students who have completed at least one year of their selected programs. These two institutions have the option of endowment programs which could take control away from the Men’s Republican Club and would mean we could only fund one of the above mentioned options, as opposed to a variety. Three of these institutions have a more direct impact on the needs of Collier County (Florida Southwest, Lorenzo Walker, and STEM).

There is a much higher probability that these educational investments will be recognized as a factor in improving the lives of a younger generation who will be an important part of our community’s future.

The Scholarship Committee is presently developing a list of selection criteria for all programs. When this is completed we will send it for your review and comments. Our goal is to have this compiled by September 2017 for implementation in 2018.

SPECIAL THANKS to the Scholarship Committee: Joe Davidow, John Thomas, Eric Carter, Neil Curley, Reg Buxton, Mike Lyster, Art Garrison, Rick Tonis, Frank Seninsky. It is not an easy job, and is extremely time consuming, but worth investing in our Collier County youth. Keep in mind that children may be only 25% of our population, but they are 100% of our future.

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