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A $50,000 grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation has helped the Education Foundation of Sarasota County open LaunchPad4U, an innovative education center in downtown Sarasota’s Rosemary District, and broaden the array of services offered to students, especially disadvantaged youth. In addition to serving as a place to prototype innovative programs and initiatives, LaunchPad4U expands the reach and impact of PLANit Sarasota, the rebranded name of the Sarasota County Local College Access Network (LCAN). Gulf Coast Community Foundation is a longtime supporter of the collective, which is comprised of education and youth services organizations and funders focused on increasing the percentage of students who obtain a high-value post-secondary certificate, degree, or training experience to 60 percent by 2030.

PLANit Sarasota’s intent is to close achievement gaps and improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly those who are first-generation college students and economically disadvantaged students. The collective’s goals center on increasing FAFSA applications, assisting students in developing a plan for life after high school, persisting in the face of adversity, career exploration, and data collection—services that will be more widely available at LaunchPad4U.