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Every summer we have more students requesting financial assistance, and we would love to build a scholarship fund to support these students across all of our programs. Some students need only partial support fund their UF summer experience; however, others are dependent on full scholarships. The 2023 summer programs range in student fees from $350 for our one-week Florida Youth Institute to $5200 for our seven-week SSTP program for 12th graders.
Our educator programs are supported by larger grants and pooled Broader Impacts components from individual researcher grants. Our aim for our educator programs is to offer professional learning opportunities that are minimal cost to them and preferably, offer a stipend as a professional courtesy. Our educators are underappreciated and often spend their own funds to support their professional development, something that is seldom expected in other professions. Grants from federal agencies often do not allow the purchase of food, so educators must provide for their own meals while on campus which can be $30 per day. For a two-week program, that adds up! Educator support can be actualized as donations to help fund program meals which promotes collegiality and allows for much needed informal sharing and discussion, provide travel costs to and from the University campus, particularly for those traveling from the panhandle or south Florida.
Equipment, materials, and laboratory reagents needed to enrich classroom teaching are woefully lacking across our schools. Through CPET educator programs, we work to provide educators access to equipment lockers that they can borrow for use with all of their classes. We have built a great number of lockers to include multiple biotechnology laboratories, kits, and materials needed to implement curricula developed by educator participants. The costs associated with restocking and shipping the materials can be supported by gifts that allow these resources to be placed in schools throughout Florida, extending the reach of the University of Florida. Educators who use the equipment locker program are always excited to receive their case from UF and pride themselves on the collaborations built with a top research institution.
We embrace the strategic plan of the University of Florida to engage in meaningful opportunities for learners of all ages to feel welcome and part of the UF community. This starts with our youngest learners. Annual gifts would allow campus programming for summer day programs as well as school-year enrichment opportunities on teacher workdays and afterschool. This builds on our previous middle-grades GatorLab program supported by the Governor’s Program as well as the on-going College Reach-Out Program.
Larger gifts can support a larger number of learners and reduce the cost for each participant. For a one-week student program, the actual cost is $1200 per student with room and board. A donation of $10,000+ would allow that cost to be reduced for each student, which then coupled with additional support from the scholarship fund increases accessibility to a larger number of students.
Similarly, a gift $6000 can provide a one-day learning experience such as our Mini Medical School for up to 100 teachers and include lunch and parking. A gift of $15,000 would make it possible for 24 educators to spend a week on campus immersed in learning the most current STEM research and engaged in authentic practices of science. This gift would cover room, board, and access to classroom resources such as CPET’s equipment locker program.
Our copier is beyond parts replacement and our one 15-passenger van is approaching the end of its life. Unfortunately, these large cost items are difficult to replace without a dedicated foundation account that allows gifts to accumulate for these types of purchases. Gifts for office and program equipment would allow our Center to function smoothly and efficiently.
Classroom space on the University campus is a premium, both in availability and fiscally. For our Center, we must pay $200 a day to utilize the one teaching laboratory on campus that is available on a limited basis outside of regular use by UF students in registered courses. This cost along with the reduced availability is limiting accessibility for precollege programs. During the school year, teachers often request to bring their students to the university campus for learning experiences including biotechnology laboratory activities, but they cannot afford the additional laboratory usage fee. In the summer, this fee is passed along to our student participants, increasing the cost of the program. We seek a flexible learning space that can be used by students and educators during campus activities. This learning space would allow students to perform biotechnology laboratories and also engage in group learning projects and discussions with faculty and graduate students. We are working to identify space on campus that can be retrofitted in the interim and would ultimately like to have a dedicated building for precollege campus experiences much like the UF/IFAS Straughn Professional Development Center.