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Check & Connect

Check & Connect

Check & Connect students at Eastside High School

As many of you already know, the Check & Connect Program has come to an end. At the end of the month, this page will be deactivated.

We want to again thank the Check & Connect Specialists for all of their work and dedication. We also want to thank the students and their families for investing in their futures. Best of luck to everyone. Check & Connect and United Way of North Central Florida wishes all of you well!#LIVEUNITED

Below is the statement published in United Way's newsletter about Check & Connect coming to an end:

For the last four years, the Check and Connect Program has aimed to reduce drop-out rates and help local high school students make progress towards graduation by building relationships with students and their families. Our original contingent of students have now graduated high school and their walks across the stages of Eastside, Hawthorne and Gainesville High Schools, symbolize the start of their journeys into adulthood, but also mark the close of the Check and Connect Program.
The Check & Connect Program began as the result of a $300,000 grant provided by AT&T. At the time, United Way of North Central Florida was the only United Way in the country to receive this grant. Funding was continued with the help of a private donor after the AT&T grant was finished.

Check & Connect provided drop-out prevention specialists at Gainesville, Eastside, and Hawthorne High Schools. Each Check and Connect Specialist connected as mentors and counselors with up to 20 students and their families to provide social services, referrals and family strengthening assistance.

Most of the students in the program have faced nearly insurmountable obstacles. They were able to overcome those odds with the help of their Check and Connect Specialists Barbara Brady, Stephanie Burke and Annetta McCloud. The Specialists got to know their students, learn about their lives, meet their families and became beacons of support and stability for the children. Although the program is no longer being funded, the Check and Connect program’s impact will always stay with the students, their families and with the Specialists.

With the program coming to a close and the original set of Check and Connect students graduating, we gathered our seniors to celebrate their big accomplishment. On Tuesday, June 7, UWNCFL held a brunch at Peaceful Paths, with food (and an omelette station) provided by David’s Real Pit BBQ. All students were gifted a laptop, a book by local author Joe Johnson entitled, “Pursue Your Purpose, Not Your Dreams,” and goodie bags.

We wish the very best to the all the Check and Connect students, their families and the Specialists, who have all continued on their path in education and providing support for students.

To see this newsletter, visit:…/d…/2016-06-06_second_qtr_newsletter_fi/1

United Way has partnered with Alachua County Public Schools and AT&T to deliver the Check & Connect Program, a highly effective drop-out prevention program for at-risk youth. Check & Connect is a program developed to engage students in their education. Through long-term sustained support, Check & Connect Specialists seek to build a relationship with each student that will serve to connect them with their school and aid in their progress towards graduation.

"This program impacts kids, but also impacts families," said Hershel Lyons, Interim Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools. "This program starts a cycle of breaking educational failure in families. It is the most effective program in the district."

We need $150,000 to fund the four staff members and the equipment to serve the existing Check & Connect schools: Eastside, Gainesville, and Hawthorne High Schools. We were lucky to receive a grant from AT&T to start this program in 2012, making United Way of North Central Florida the sole United Way selected nationally for drop-out prevention programming. If United Way of North Central Florida continues to receive the AT&T grant, to be awarded in June, then money we raise can add additional youth at the existing schools, or add another high school. However, if we are not awarded the AT&T grant, we are being proactive in hopes that we can save this life-changing program.

"Before I joined Check & Connect, I planned to have a regular job like working at McDonalds, but now I have changed my thoughts and habits," said Lazoriah McDonald, a 10th grade Gainesville High School and Check & Connect student. "I now have goals! I want to go to college and I want to help my mother."

Check & Connect Specialists also communicate with parents to help students and families understand the importance of school attendance and recognize the connection between poor attendance and disengagement from school.

Based on our strong and supportive relationship with the school board and the data from year one, we are very confident that we will be able to expand our services in a very efficient and effective way.
We have seen marked improvement in student attendance, behavior and attitude.

Parents and students alike believe that the specialist's role providing daily support and encouragement to their son or daughter has made all the difference in their child's transformation.

A mother of a Check & Connect student said her son's demeanor and attendance have improved greatly since he joined the program.

Please help us expand this essential program by making a donation by clicking here or mail your check to United Way of North Central Florida, 6031 NW 1st Place, Gainesville, FL 32607 with a notation "Check & Connect."

About Our Check & Connect Program

United Way of North Central Florida was the only United Way in the country to receive a $300,000 contribution from AT&T, through the AT&T Aspire Local High School Impact Initiative. This two-year contribution will provide drop-out prevention services to at-risk 9th graders in three Alachua County high schools: Gainesville, Eastside and Hawthorne. Called Check and Connect, this program is a new part of the continuum of support for United Way’s impact area education and is in partnership with Alachua County Public Schools. It will provide outreach and support to more than 120 youth and their families within those school populations.

Check & Connect is a program developed to engage students in their education. Through long-term sustained support, Check & Connect seeks to build a relationship with each student that will serve to connect them with their school and aid in their progress towards graduation.  Bi-weekly conversations, tutoring and homework help form the basis for a trusted bond between the student and the Check & Connect Specialist. This enables the Specialist to individually and definitively determine the interventions best suited to the students’ needs. The Specialist then works on behalf of the student as a mentor, tutor, problem-solver, listener and case advocate.


Laptop Program

The United Way of North Central Florida purchased laptop computers for the high school students participating in the Check and Connect dropout prevention program. United Way thanks the Dharma Endowment Foundation for its ongoing and generous support of United Way! Each student enrolled in the Check & Connect Program will receive a laptop to aid them in their educational journey toward graduation.

2013 Year-End Award Luncheons

Below are photos from Hawthorne High School Year-End Award Luncheon:

Below are photos and a video from Gainesville High School Year-End Award Luncheon:

Below are photos from Eastside High School Year-End Award Luncheon: