SF College EGI continues its reach into community

Yolanda Hagley, director of Gainesville Home Instruction for Parents with Preschool Youngsters Inc., talks about her organization’s partnership with the Santa Fe College East Gainesville Instruction program.

Cleveland Tinker/Gainesville Guardian
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.

The Santa Fe College East Gainesville Instruction program touted its new partnerships with Eastside High School, Hawthorne Middle/High School and Gainesville Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters Inc., or HIPPY, and its continuing partnership with east Gainesville churches at its Annual Community Report 2012-2013 forum.

Held last Thursday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, more than 100 people from the business world, community leaders, educators, law enforcement officials, residents, parents, pastors and politicians attended the forum to learn about the dynamic partnerships EGI has formed recently and in the past to help accomplish its mission to foster positive change and add value to the lives of students while enriching the community.

Karen Cole-Smith, executive director of Santa Fe College Community Outreach and East Gainesville Instruction, used the 75-minute forum to talk about the progress being made with EGI's second five-year strategic plan, which covers 2011-2016.

The aspects of the strategic plan she focused on were:

Educational Outreach and Partnership.

Technology Outreach: Bridging the Digital Divide.

Literacy Initiatives.

Workforce Development.

Faith-based Partnerships.

Parent Empowerment Series.

Cole-Smith began by talking about new partnerships with the schools and HIPPY that have formed since the current strategic plan was established. She said Santa Fe created Preparing for Academic and Student Success, or PASS, because Santa Fe President Jackson Sasser wanted a program designed to highlight college-ready students from Eastside and Hawthorne and to provide them with the necessary resources to help them graduate from high school, get into college and graduate from college.

Cole-Smith also highlighted the Educational Pipeline to Academic Success, or EPAS, program that is a partnership between EGI and HIPPY, a nonprofit organization that provides instruction, resources and services to parents of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds so parents can be their children's first teachers. The EPAS partnership will take that a step further by providing resources and services to support students and their families from "the cradle to college."

Cole-Smith said EGI has had many partners throughout the years and is still gaining new partners, but she said one partnership has and always will be absolutely essential to the success of the program, and that is the partnership with churches and pastors in east Gainesville.

"When Dr. Sasser first talked about starting the East Gainesville Initiative, I knew from the beginning that we were going to have to partner with the pastors in the community," said Cole-Smith.

Speaking on behalf of east Gainesville pastors, Pastor George Dix of PASSAGE Family Church said the partnership between EGI and local churches has been mutually beneficial.

"Our partnership with the East Gainesville Initiative and Dr. Karen-Cole Smith has been very fruitful," Dix said.

Other partnerships highlighted at the forum included those with the Alachua County Library District and Library Partnership Neighborhood Resource Center; city of Gainesville; Duval Elementary Fine Arts Academy; Rawlings Elementary School, the official adopted school of EGI; FloridaWorks; Gainesville Police Department and the Porters Community Neighborhood Association.

Cole-Smith called on several partners to speak briefly.

Yolanda Hagley, project director and coordinator of HIPPY, said there are currently 75 families involved with HIPPY and EPAS that will be provided resources and services to enhance the chance for students in those families to attend and graduate from college.

Gigi Simmons, president of the Porters Community Neighborhood Association, thanked EGI for trying to lessen the digital divide by teaching computer literacy classes at the Porters Community Center.

"We have a lot of older people in Porters, and we thank the East Gainesville Instruction for choosing us to partner with to help our older residents become computer literate," Simmons said.

The Santa Fe College Community Outreach and the East Gainesville Initiative (the name was changed to East Gainesville Instruction in 2010) was founded in 2002 to provide educational outreach, vocational training, access to technology and community empowerment to the east Gainesville community when Sasser became president of the college and found grave disparities in resources between west Gainesville and east Gainesville.

Cole-Smith said plans are ongoing to start a program next year that will target young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who need help getting back on the right track. She said the program will be known as REFOCUS, and it already has 30 agencies and organizations committed to be partners.

"We are committed to making a difference in this community," Cole-Smith said.

For more information, call 352-395-5767 or 352-381-3840.

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