Sarasota County Schools News

Musical instrument string maker supports middle school music programs

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McIntosh teacher Leiland Theriot and Jim Cavanaugh

MUSIC TO HER EARS: McIntosh Middle School music teacher Leiland Theriot, at left, thanks Jim Cavanaugh, president of Super-Sensitive Musical String Company, for supporting the school’s music programs.

SARASOTA, Aug. 29, 2016 – Super-Sensitive Musical String Company, a Sarasota-based manufacturer of strings and accessories for violins and other instruments, is sponsoring a program for middle school students in orchestra and guitar classes and ensembles.

Company President Jim Cavanaugh said, “We are proud to support the music programs of the Sarasota County Schools and the young students who are learning to play and enjoy great music.”

The company chose three inaugural schools to support during the 2016-17 school year: McIntosh Middle in Sarasota, Laurel Nokomis School in Nokomis and Venice Middle. The company plans to rotate the program among other schools, with the goal of supporting all the school district’s middle school string programs within three years.

This year, the company awarded McIntosh a $1,000 scholarship for the purchase of strings, rosin and other accessories from the music store of the school’s choice. McIntosh also received posters proclaiming that the school is an official “Super-Sensitive-sponsored” school. Laurel Nokomis School and Venice Middle each received $500 in Super-Sensitive strings and accessories.

McIntosh Middle School is located at 701 S. McIntosh Road, Sarasota. Laurel Nokomis School is at 1900 E. Laurel Road, Nokomis. Venice Middle School is at 1900 Center Road, Venice.

Super-Sensitive Musical String Company is located at 1805 Apex Road, Sarasota. 

Bank staff and customers donate shoes and socks for needy students

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Regions Bank footwear donation 8-24-16

STEPPING UP TO HELP: Jeanne Armour and Frank Santora of Regions Bank present shoes and socks donated by the company’s staff and customers to Betsy Hooper, center, of the Sarasota County School District. The footwear will be given to students in need.

SARASOTA, Aug. 24, 2016 – As the 2016-17 school year gets underway in Sarasota County, representatives of Regions Bank presented the school district with 32 pairs of sneakers and 175 pairs of socks for students. The footwear was collected in July and August by associates and customers at eight of the bank’s branches.

The donation was presented Wednesday, Aug. 24 to Betsy Hooper, administrative assistant and bookkeeper in the English for Speakers of Other Languages Department and the school district’s 2016 School-Related Employee of the Year. The items will be given to students with the highest need, as identified by school counselors and social workers. 

“We’re pleased that Regions Bank employees and their customers want children in need to have new shoes and socks for the new school year,” said Hooper. “We are grateful for this thoughtful donation, and we know the kids will appreciate it.” 

Annual Fall College Night held at Robarts Arena

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College Just Ahead sign-clip art from web 8-24-16

SARASOTA, Sept. 7, 2016 UPDATE — Local high school students and parents can meet representatives of more than 100 colleges and universities from across the U.S. when Sarasota County Schools hosts the 2016 Fall College Night. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8, at Robarts Sports Arena in Sarasota. Admission is free. 

Click here for a list of organizations scheduled to participate

Schools scheduled to send representatives include post-secondary institutions in the State University System of Florida as well as public and private colleges and universities from around the nation. Representatives of various military academies and military recruiters also will attend. The Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections will have a table for those who wish to register to vote.

Robarts Sports Arena is located at 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. More information about the 2016 Fall College Night is available by calling the Student Services Department of Sarasota County Schools at 941-927-4036.


District begins 2016-17 school year

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Fruitville Elem-New classroom bldg Aug 2016

READY FOR DAY ONE: Helen Cao, a first-grade teacher at Fruitville Elementary, shows a classroom in the school's new building to her sons Ethan (middle), a third-grade student at Fruitville, and Eli, a first-grade student there. School starts Aug. 22 in Sarasota County.

Click here for 2016-17 school hours and a map showing the locations of district schools.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Aug. 19, 2016 – Students return to Sarasota County classrooms Monday, Aug. 22. Here is some basic information about the district:


40 traditional public schools: 23 elementary schools, seven middle schools, six high schools, one K-8 school (Laurel Nokomis), one gifted school (Pine View, grades two-12), one school for students with special needs (Oak Park, pre-K to age 22), one alternative school (YMCA Triad, north and south campuses)

Suncoast Technical College (high school/adult students; Sarasota, Venice, North Port campuses)

12 charter schools

Adult and Community Enrichment (ACE), based at Suncoast Technical College


Projected 2016-17 General Fund (Operating) Budget:

$423 million


Total Projected Student Enrollment:

Approximately 43,500 students


Number of Employees:

4,933 (2,705 teachers, 2,025 support staff, 203 administrators)


New Principals (traditional public schools):

Amy Archer, Garden Elementary, Venice (former Glenallen Elementary principal)

Rebecca Drum, Glenallen Elementary, North Port (former assistant principal there)

Steven Royce, Gocio Elementary, Sarasota (former principal of Tara Elementary, Bradenton)

Erin Del Castillo, Venice Elementary (former assistant principal at Pine View School, Osprey)

Susan Nations, Wilkinson Elementary, Sarasota (former assistant principal, Southside Elementary, Sarasota)

Brandon Johnson, North Port High (former principal of Lamarque Elementary) NOTE: Sandra Russell is acting principal at Lamarque until mid-September, when a new principal is expected to be named.

Paul Burns, Riverview High, Sarasota (former assistant principal at that school)

David Jones, Sarasota High (former principal of North Port High)

Eric Jackson, Venice High (former Riverview High principal)


School Construction/Renovation Projects:

Fruitville Elementary: New classroom building includes wing for students with autism/interior renovations/bus loop/parking lot

Sarasota High: New gymnasium (spring 2016), other improvements/additions in the works

Emma E. Booker Elementary: Renovated media center

Englewood Elementary: Remodeled classroom wing and media center

Pine View School: Gymnasium, media center and heating/ventilation/AC renovations

Suncoast Technical College-North Port Extension/Sarasota County public library: Site development is underway 


Transportation (2015-16 stats):

18,000: Average number of students who ride the bus daily

360: Number of buses in the district fleet (includes 24 new buses arriving in September 2016)

27,500: Average number of miles driven per day

3,700: Average number of gallons of diesel fuel used each day 


Food and Nutrition Services (2015-16 stats):

6,077: Average number of breakfasts served each school day

21,185: Average number of lunches served each school day

659: Average number of after school-snacks served each day

1,040: Average number of suppers served each day

$9,404: Average total dollar amount of food purchases each day

51 percent: Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals



Health agencies offer tips for preventing spread of Zika virus

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Zika Spill the Water graphic-NEW CROPPED

SPILL THE WATER, STOP THE SPREAD: A key element of the campaign to combat the Zika virus is to empty containers of standing water in yards, since mosquitoes can breed there.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Aug. 18, 2016 – The Florida Department of Health is working with the Governor’s Office and the Florida Department of Education to educate students, parents and school personnel on how to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses. All public school districts in Florida, including Sarasota County Schools, are joining that effort.

At home, one of the most effective methods of preventing the spread of these viruses is to empty all containers of standing water around your yard. Mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of water.

For more information on precautionary measures and the latest information about Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses, click here for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County website. It includes a Zika hotline phone number. Click here for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website with Zika information.  

In addition, here are links to informational fliers about preventing the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses:

Mosquito Bite Prevention in Florida

Spill the Water Elementary Poster

Spill the Water Middle-High School Poster


New North Port High principal appointed

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Brandon Jouhnson 2014

Brandon Johnson

SARASOTA COUNTY, Aug. 17, 2016 – Brandon Johnson, the principal of Lamarque Elementary School in North Port, has been appointed as the new principal of North Port High School. Sarasota County Superintendent of Schools Lori White announced the appointment today. 

Johnson, 35, succeeds David Jones at NPHS. Jones was NPHS principal from 2012 until his appointment as Sarasota High School principal Aug. 1.

Johnson has been principal of Lamarque since 2014. During his first year there, the school grade improved from a C to an A.

He holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va.

Johnson began with the Sarasota County Schools in 2005 as a teacher for children with special needs at Emma E. Booker Elementary. He also served there as a fourth-grade teacher and as a resource for teachers of special-needs students.

He became an assistant principal intern at Emma E. Booker Elementary in 2010. He subsequently served as an assistant principal intern at Bay Haven School of Basics Plus and as assistant principal at Brentwood Elementary School.

As an elementary school administrator, he was responsible for developing and supporting Positive Behavior Support initiatives and school improvement plans. He was a summer school administrator, data coach, test coordinator and volunteer coordinator. He served on district committees to create a new elementary report card and to update the Student and Family Handbook.

He also has served as a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Take Stock in Children. He was a member of the NAACP Youth Advisory Counsel.

Sarasota County Schools Executive Director of High Schools Steve Cantees said: “Brandon is the perfect fit for North Port High School. He is a passionate, tireless worker for all students. He knows the North Port community and will serve the students and families of North Port High with same dedication and purpose as he did those at Lamarque Elementary.”  

Executive Director of Elementary Schools Laura Kingsley said Johnson is an inspired instructional leader who does an outstanding job of helping all students and staff reach their highest potential.

Johnson said: “I am truly blessed to be the new principal at NPHS.  I can’t wait to start working with the staff and students at our wonderful school. I look forward to building relationships with our families and the community in the coming year. Go Bobcats!

“I have truly enjoyed my time at Lamarque and will miss the students, staff and families. In my time we have seen an increase in student achievement, brought back the exciting 5K race and have partnered with Arts Now to bring the fine arts to life. The new principal at Lamarque will be lucky to lead such a wonderful staff and hardworking students.”

Johnson will begin his transition from Lamarque to NPHS on Friday. Kingsley said retired Tatum Ridge Elementary School Principal Sandra Russell will serve as acting principal at Lamarque until a new principal is hired. Kingsley plans for the new principal to begin work the second week of September.


District hosts ‘ED-stravaganza’ for teachers from four counties

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EDExploreED-stravaganza Aug 2016

READY TO HELP TEACHERS EXPLORE: Pictured from left to right are Ann Cruickshank and Karen Willey of Around the Bend Nature Tours and Bonnie Thomas of The Ringling. Their organizations will be among those represented at EdExploreSRQ ED-stravaganza.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Aug. 11, 2016 – Teachers from Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties will have a chance to get a head start on the new school year when the Sarasota County School District hosts the first-ever EdExploreSRQ ED-stravaganza, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 13, at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota. This free event is open to public school teachers from throughout the region. Teachers may come anytime to the open-house event.

The purpose of the ED-stravaganza is to make teachers and administrators aware of the hundreds of learning opportunities available to students in the four counties each year through the Sarasota County School District’s EdExploreSRQ website. Created nearly five years ago in collaboration with community partners, EdExplore SRQ is a web-based platform that features both in-class and in-the-field “explorations” for students in all grade levels. Each of the explorations has been approved by school district staff to meet Florida’s education standards in a wide variety of disciplines, including dance, language arts, math, music, science, health social studies, and the visual and performing arts.

Nearly 200 teachers are expected to attend the ED-stravaganza, which will feature exhibits, demonstrations and performances by more than three dozen arts, science, history and cultural organizations and teaching artists, showcasing the active learning experiences available for K-12 students during the 2016-17 school year. Representatives from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County will be on hand to discuss grant opportunities available to public school teachers who are seeking to fund active learning experiences for their students.

“We are thrilled to offer this incredible showcase of field trips and in-class learning experiences available to area teachers and their students during the upcoming school year,” said Angela Hartvigsen, fine arts curriculum specialist for Sarasota County Schools and the manager of EdExploreSRQ. “This is a truly unique experience for teachers and principals to come and meet in person with dozens of local providing organizations and teaching artists.

“We will have demonstrations and performances taking place throughout the day, so teachers are free to come and go as they please,” said Hartvigsen. “We want them to take advantage of this wonderful chance to have everyone together at the same time, ready to answer teachers’ questions.”

For more information on the EdExploreSRQ ED-stravaganza, visit the EdExploreSRQ Facebook page at “Ed Explore SRQ” or email Angela Hartvigsen at  

Suncoast Technical College is located at 4650 Beneva Road, Sarasota.

Lifelong Learning Showcase lets students sample classes Sept. 16

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SCALL logo Aug 2016

This news release is from the SunCoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning.

SARASOTA, Aug. 11, 2016 - The SunCoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning (SCALL), a non-profit entity committed to promoting and enhancing the region's lifelong learning opportunities, presents its premiere event, the Lifelong Learning Showcase, Friday, September 16, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at Suncoast Technical College, 4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota. The showcase, which is also a fundraiser for SCALL, was designed to provide participants a sampling of the lifelong learning opportunities offered by SCALL's founding organizations.

The event includes 24 course sessions; participants may choose four to attend. Tickets are $79 and include refreshments, lunch, four showcase sessions, and a lecture by keynote speaker Dr. Alan Grindal on the proven benefits of lifelong learning. Tickets are limited. Registration is required and will be open Tuesday, August 16, through Wednesday, September 14. People interested in attending are encouraged to register early at or by calling the Adult and Community Enrichment (ACE) office at Suncoast Technical College at 941-361-6590. Event sponsors include SunTrust Bank, Plymouth Harbor, Herald-Tribune Media Group, Walsh & Associates and WUSF Public Media. 

The 24 course sessions are led by educators and experts from ACE, Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy and Pierian Spring Academy. Courses range from Gardening Delights to Nobel Prize History and Politics. (Please see attached schedule with course descriptions and times.)

“The Sarasota/Manatee region is a mecca for lifelong learners. This is definitely the place to be if you’re interested in an active retirement,” says Robert Carlson, Ed.D. “Studies show that lifelong learning helps create a positive aging experience, boosting health and longevity and increasing the overall sense of joie de vivre. The hundreds of instructors and lecturers come from the tops of their fields and include CEOs of major companies, professional artists, writers and photographers, experts in science and medical research, and educators from renowned universities and colleges. It’s a true meeting of the minds.”

For more information about this event or about the SunCoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning, call Bob Carlson at 941-408-3723 or email

About SunCoast Alliance for Lifelong Learning (SCALL)

SCALL’s mission is to stimulate greater interest, appreciation and support for personal growth and enrichment prospects available through lifelong learning organizations in Sarasota and Manatee counties.


Eight moms graduate from nursing program at Alta Vista Elementary

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CNA grads-Alta Vista-Aug 2016

READY TO ASSIST: Eight mothers of elementary school students graduated from the Nurse Assistant Training Program Aug. 10 at Alta Vista Elementary. Pictured from left in front row are Jamese Bryant, Kristelle Stevens and Dejanira Robledo. In back are Charlotte Ekstrom, Marcia Camarillo, Shakira Smith, Rakisha Ward and Rosa Robledo. Photo courtesy Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

SARASOTA, Aug. 9, 2016 – Eight mothers of students from Sarasota County elementary schools will graduate from the Nurse Assistant Training Program in a ceremony at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Alta Vista Elementary School. The program is offered as part of the adult education program at the school, part of a two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty that affects many area families. Some of the women are mothers of Alta Vista students; others have children who attend other Title I schools in the county. Title I is a federal designation indicating that a high percentage of students at a school are from financially challenged families.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer educational opportunities for adults as well as children, thanks to generous partners like Suncoast Technical College and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County,” said Alta Vista Elementary Principal Barbara Shirley. “This is sure to be a very moving ceremony as these women take an important step in improving their lives and those of their children, as well as the lives they will touch as nurse assistants.”

The graduates are Jamese Bryant, Marcia Camarillo, Charlotte Ekstrom, Dejanira Robledo, Rosa Robledo, Shakira Smith, Kristelle Stevens and Rakisha Ward. Speakers at the ceremony will include Principal Shirley; Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; and Todd Bowden, director of Suncoast Technical College and the school district’s executive director of career, technical and the adult education. Registered Nurse Angela Clarke, the course instructor, will serve as master of ceremonies. Two of the graduates, Stevens and Ward, will share words of appreciation for the opportunity.

With the establishment in 2013 of the Eagle Academy, Alta Vista became the first school in the Sarasota County School District to adopt an innovative and comprehensive model of approaching education, shifting from a student-focused to a two-generation focus. The new model was the result of a collaboration of partners including Suncoast Technical College, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and individual donors.

Two-generation-focused programs, like those at Alta Vista Elementary, provide opportunities and meet the needs of vulnerable parents and children together. While they were already adept at meeting the needs of children at the school, the school’s adult education program focuses on enriching the lives of parents.

As a result of increased interest and inspiring successes like those of the Nurse Assistant Training Program graduates, Alta Vista Elementary and Suncoast Technical College are expanding their partnership. Additional opportunities for further education will be offered, including such diverse programs as child development associate, private security officer, Microsoft Office specialist, forklift operator and others offered year-round as the program grows. Parents of Alta Vista students are invited to attend classes taught by Suncoast Technical College instructors, held on the Alta Vista Elementary campus and guided by a supportive team. This arrangement helps makes the transition to higher education and/or additional training and a career — a more achievable goal.

For more information about Alta Vista Elementary’s growing program, please contact Principal Barbara Shirley at 941-361-6400. Parents of Alta Vista Elementary students who are interested in enrolling may contact Jackie Ekstrom, school social worker, at 941-361-6400, ext. 51520, or at  

Alta Vista Elementary is located at 1050 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota.

Fruitville Elementary celebrates new chapter with ribbon cutting

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Fruitville ribbon cut 8-10-16Fruitville new classroom Aug 2016Fruitville new bldg hallway Aug 2016

FRUITVILLE ELEMENTARY: In top photo, Superintendent Lori White cuts the ribbon on a new classroom building, the centerpiece of the school's expanded facilities. Middle and bottom photos: A classroom and hallway in the new building.

SARASOTA, Aug. 4, 2016 – Sarasota County School District officials will cut the ribbon on a much-anticipated expansion of Sarasota’s historic Fruitville Elementary School at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 10. The additions and improvements include a new, centrally located, two-story, 30,000-square-foot, 18-classroom building; interior renovations in two existing buildings; a new covered play area and an expanded bus loop for dropping off and picking up students.

The first floor of the new building was designed to serve the school’s program for children with autism. Classes for those students had been held mostly in portable buildings for several years; all but one portable has been removed from the campus. The second floor of the new building houses classrooms for second- and third-grade students.

Improvements to the school, including design, site work, construction, furniture, fixtures and equipment, were made at a cost of $7.65 million. The team included Sweet Sparkman Architects and Jon F. Swift Construction. Ernie DuBose was the school district’s project manager.

“We’re thrilled to have a dedicated space that was designed for our students with autism,” said Principal Dusty French. “The large, open spaces have big windows that let in lots of light. In addition, our bus loop has about doubled in size, which will make student arrivals and departures much more efficient. We’re also making improvements to our parking lot. We’re thrilled with the changes and we’re sure our students and parents will be excited, too.”

The Aug. 10 celebration will include tours of the new building, a celebration with refreshments and the launch of the school’s theme for the year, “Building on Our Past to Grow Our Future.”

The year 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the school’s 1941 opening at its current and fifth location. The school building that was completed that year was constructed with funding from the federal Works Progress Administration; it still houses the administration office. The school traces its origins all the way back to the 1880s, when its forerunner was established by Sarasota pioneers Charles and Martha Tatum Reaves.

“Our school has a storied past and a boundless future,” said French. “We like to call it ‘a local treasure.’ We invite the entire community to come celebrate with us, as we cut the ribbon to usher in the next chapter of Fruitville’s rich history.”

Fruitville Elementary School is located at 601 Honore Ave., Sarasota. 

Suncoast Technical College to offer tuition-free plumbing program

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STC-CareerEdge combo logo Imael Cleto-STC plumbing student 2016-17

HANDS-ON LEARNING: Suncoast Technical College has partnered with CareerEdge Funders Collaborative to help students like Imael Cleto, pictured in photo, learn plumbing skills to obtain certification in the trade.
This news release is from CareerEdge Funders Collaborative. 

SARASOTA COUNTY, Aug. 1, 2016 - CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, a private workforce development non-profit, has partnered with Suncoast Technical College to offer a tuition-free Plumbing Technology certification program beginning this fall.

The eight-month class begins Thursday, Sept. 8, and will be held Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m.-2:15 p.m., with both classroom and on-the-job training. Graduates of the plumbing program are highly sought after by local employers given the shortage of workers in this trade. Through a mass mailing campaign, the college is targeting high school graduates from the last six years who have not entered a traditional college program.

“Our goal is to increase the number of 18-25 year-olds receiving an industry-recognized college credential in high demand occupations within our region in order to meet employer workforce needs and close skills gaps,” explains CareerEdge Executive Director Mireya Eavey.

While the focus is on young adults, the program is open to students of any age. Once they complete the program, graduates will be able to enter apprenticeships with local employers leading to plumbing jobs with average wages of $54,000 a year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. 

Jaime DiDomenico at Cool Today, Plumbing Today and Energy Today reports that the construction sector in Sarasota-Manatee added 1,000 jobs in May over last year and demand is growing. 

“The specialty trades, such as plumbing, will experience the biggest shortfalls due to specialized training needs and required schooling.  While the needs are keen in the construction side of the business, the service side will steadily show double-digit percentage increases due to more homeowner occupancy,” DiDomenico explained.

CareerEdge will also fund internships for these plumbing students through its Internship Reimbursement Program, whereby employers receive up to $1,500 for hiring an intern.  The program provides financial incentives for local employers to utilize interns in high demand industries in order to meet their workforce needs.

“Our programs facilitate job creation and growth for local organizations, while moving individuals into family sustaining wage,” says Eavey.

Suncoast Technical College is hosting a Job Fair from 5-7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 8, in the main atrium of its Sarasota campus at: 4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota. Employers and college representatives will be available to speak with prospective students about the Plumbing Technology training program and other construction trade offerings at the school. 

Prospective students and employers interested in participating in the Job Fair should contact Chuck Drake at Suncoast Technical College: 941-924-1365, ext. 62429.

“CareerEdge continues to be a major force in creating successful workforce development strategies for our region.  This “Pathway to Apprenticeship” partnership will help Suncoast Technical College to continue to communicate and market its highly valued certification programs,” says Todd Bowden, director of Suncoast Technical College. Bowden also serves as the Sarasota County School District's executive director of Career, Technical and Adult Education.

About CareerEdge
CareerEdge is an innovative partnership of business, government, and philanthropic organizations that leverages public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties.  The first regional collaborative of workforce investors in the southeastern United States to be designated as a site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, CareerEdge was created with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, City of Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Bank of America, Bradenton 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency, Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, and Manatee Community Action Agency.  It is also supported by contributions from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Microsoft, Sarasota County Government, Jane’s Trust, JP Morgan Chase, Scheidel Foundation and United Way Suncoast .  For more information about CareerEdge and its partners, please visit or call 941.328.6985

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Phone: 941-927-4009 or
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