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Check & Connect

Check & Connect students their graduation event in June 2016


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.

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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.