Want to finish your college degree? Expanding Complete Tampa Bay Initiative can help3 more organizations join ongoing effort

Tampa area residents who began an educational journey but stopped short of reaching destination diploma have good news: Pinellas County Urban League (PCUL), LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network, and Knack have joined forces to support the Complete Tampa Bay Initiative (CTB). Now, even more adult learners stand to finish their college degrees and/or credentialing programs -- and they don’t have to do it alone.

“No one organization in our community is set up to help with every possible circumstance, so having organizations partner to remove barriers for students allows us all to contribute to student success,” says Chuck Tiernan. 

Tiernan serves as senior director of community impact and LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network at the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. This partnership closes a gap, he says, as the organizations work together to reveal a thorough understanding of each student’s unique needs -- and then move forward to meet them.

The partners bring specific benefits to the outreach. Urban League staff will work with a CTB Completion Coach to discover community resources available to students who qualify. Funding may exist, for example, for a scholar whose career has been affected by COVID-19. Financial support may be available for those who qualify for other reasons.

“By partnering with LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network and Knack, we are hoping to assist our clients with overcoming some of these barriers and close the education gap in order for our clients to be successful and truly exit poverty,” says Calvin B. Brown, MA, workforce development specialist and director of PCUL robotics initiative.

Had trouble with Organic Chemistry or Freshman English the first time around? Not sure about that CAD program? There’s a Knack for that. A tutoring technology platform, Knack takes scholastic help virtual with all-in-one mobile and web applications. The company’s overriding goal is to assist students throughout their course of study. The platform works by matching former students who show a literal knack for a specific subject with re-emerging learners -- now, those students will include those in the Complete Tampa Bay initiative.  

Those college credits might not have added up to a degree, but with the help of Complete Tampa Bay, they may be used to chart a new course. Available training and education options are revealed. New possibilities emerge. And with local education partners such as the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, Hillsborough Technical Colleges, and Pinellas Technical Colleges, the focus is decidedly local.

“Within this work, we bring an additional focus to disadvantaged populations to help close gaps that exist in earning a credential,” Tiernan says.  

For more information about the initiative, visit the Complete Tampa Bay website. Here, interested applicants are directed to complete a form and briefly explain their aspirations. Afterward, Coach Matt Smith will be in contact; Smith may also be reached directly at [email protected]

83 Degrees stories about philanthropy and its impact on the community are supported in part through contributions to the Solutions Journalism Fund set up through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. This fund was developed to support solutions journalism and storytelling that will provide information and build awareness designed to grow support for local nonprofits and their missions. The storytelling will focus on how local charities contribute to community building, public health, the arts, and equity issues as it relates to neighborhoods, education, and the environment. You can donate now by following this link.

Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.