The Brandon community is forever growing and thriving. We have some of the best local businesses and schools and because of this distinction, many of the mentoring programs look to our community for its mentors. Two of the programs that are looking for mentors from our community are The Hillsborough Education Foundation and The Tampa Bay Academy of Hope.

The Hillsborough Education Foundation is dedicated to creating programs and offering resources to improve student’s learning experiences within the county. “We do that through our partnerships with the school district, business leaders and our volunteers,” said Ann Romano of The Hillsborough Education Foundation.

The foundation’s goal is to decrease the number of drop-outs in the county and to break the cycle of poverty. It does this through its Take Stock in Children (TSIC) program, which is a statewide scholarship and mentoring program. The students in the program are in middle and high school and come from low-income households and have other risk factors that may prevent them from attending college. “We work in partnership with the school district to find the deserving kids who meet the qualifications for the program,” Romano said. The program has many students in the Brandon area who are part of this program and need mentors from the community to help them succeed with the program.

The Tampa Bay Academy of Hope is another mentoring program that has been part of the county for 18 years. The program assists over 2,500 youth and their families with leadership training, counseling, mentoring, job placement and scholarship development. Terrance Hyman is the program director of the organization and he would also like to see more mentors from the Brandon community get involved with the academy’s new NOW program, which stands for No Offender Without a Second Chance Face Forward Youth Program. “The primary goal of this program is to increase the capacity of Hillsborough Juvenile Re-entry Alliance for the purpose of reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders in Hillsborough County,” Hyman said.

The NOW program started this past January and is funded through the Department of Labor. The main component of the program is the mentoring relationship. The program currently has 10 students who are very excited to be the first class. To learn more, visit or


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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.