Florida Prepaid College Foundation, SunTrust and Florida TaxWatch Establish New College Scholarship Program

June 12, 2017

  • The first three Academic A+ Scholarship Program winners are announced.
  • The scholarships are part of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation’s continued commitment to increase awareness about the importance of saving for college, and opening college access to deserving students who have overcome difficult circumstances.
  • Award-winning principals nominate students in grades 4-12 for the 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarship, each valued at approximately $8,000.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Prepaid College Foundation announced the first winners of the new Academic A+ Scholarship Program, a partnership with Suntrust and Florida TaxWatch that opens doors of opportunity to deserving students who have overcome difficult circumstances.

The Florida Prepaid College Foundation established the Academic A+ Scholarship Program in partnership with SunTrust Bank and Florida TaxWatch, as part of the Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards Program, to recognize students who are making exemplary efforts in the classroom and community while overcoming significant challenges in their life. The goal of the Scholarship Program is to provide higher education opportunities to those who might not otherwise afford them.

“These scholarships will truly make a difference for these students and open a pathway to success,” said Florida Prepaid College Foundation Director Cynthia O’Connell. “There is no better gift that this Foundation can give. And we are so grateful to our partners, SunTrust and Florida TaxWatch for helping to make this happen.”

Scholarship winners must be in grades 4-12, must demonstrate high levels of academic achievement, be active in their school or community, and demonstrate financial need. Winners are selected by the top Outstanding Principals of the annual TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards program.

“As a business leader, I understand the importance in preparing all students for success in the classroom and beyond,” said SunTrust Commercial Real Estate Banking Group Executive Vice President David Mann. “These scholarships will unlock the potential of these three students and allow them to pursue not just a college education, but their dreams as well. SunTrust is proud to be part of a great program alongside Florida TaxWatch and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.”

“We’re extremely proud to partner with the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and SunTrust, in addition to the outstanding principals of the Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards, to provide these scholarships to these amazing students,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “This scholarship will clear a pathway to success for these students, all of whom have had to fight the odds to be among the best at their schools.”

Learn more about the Florida Prepaid College Foundation at https://www.floridaprepaidcollegefoundation.com.

About the Winners:

Shyan Kayla McKinney, 8th Grader at Vernon Middle School, Vernon, Florida – awarded a 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarship on May 19, 2017

A father diagnosed with cancer. A home destroyed by fire.

At just 14 years old, Shyan Kayla McKinney has faced all of these challenges. Yet the Vernon, Florida eighth grader sets herself apart as a model student and role model for her classmates and the relatives she helps care for.

An avid reader who completes double the number of recommended books each semester, she earns all As and Bs while caring for her father as he undergoes chemotherapy. Her academic accomplishments stand out in her family, which has been marked by tragedies including a house fire.

Remarked Shyan’s principal: “She chooses to excel academically regardless of the circumstances that surround her daily life.”

Megan Ball, 8th Grader at Somerset Academy Miramar Charter School, Miramar, Florida –awarded a 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarship on June 5, 2017

Megan has been one of the top-achieving students since her 3rd grade year at Somerset Academy Miramar Charter School. Now an eighth grader, she has been on the Honor Roll all year and keeps a 3.78 GPA. She demonstrates strong ethics and is very responsible and goes above and beyond what is expected of her.

“We are so proud of how far Megan has come along,” said Principal Alexandra Prieto. “She truly has shown that she can overcome obstacles and be a great student.”

Yissellett Canada, Senior at City of Hialeah Educational Academy Charter High School, Hialeah, Florida – awarded a 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarship on June 6, 2017

The child of migrant workers, Yissellett Canada comes from a home where English is not spoken and finances are extremely tight. Yet at the City of Hialeah Educational Academy, Yissellett has made her mark as “the best example” for fellow students, according to her principal.

Yissellett has maintained a 4.9 weighted and 3.8 unweighted GPA while taking honors and Advanced Placement courses, and earning college credits at Miami-Dade College and Florida International University. She is active in organizations including National Honor Society, Math Club and Chess Club. At the City of Hialeah Educational Academy, she is a mentor and math tutor to middle school students.

As the first in her family to attend college, Yissellett has been accepted into Florida International University as a sophomore, as she has already earned 24 college credits.

“She has developed a strong sense of confidence with a charming attitude and positive outlook,” said Principal Carlos A. Alvarez. “Therefore, I could always count on her to set the best example as a student ambassador.”


About the Florida Prepaid College Foundation

Since its founding in 1990, the Foundation has committed to giving aspiring students the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and our state by providing college scholarships funded through partnerships with individuals, businesses, educational foundations and the Florida Legislature. The Foundation administers several innovative scholarship programs designed to help students achieve their dream of earning a college education. The Foundation is the 501(c)(3) direct support organization for the Florida Prepaid College Board. To learn more about the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, visit here.

About the Florida Prepaid College Board

The Florida Prepaid College Board manages the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program and the Florida 529 Savings Plan. Both are tax-favored 529 college savings plans authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. In 1987 the Florida Prepaid College Program was created by the Florida Legislature and the commitment and dedication of Mr. Stanley G. Tate to provide Florida families with an affordable means to save for their children’s future college education. The first Florida Prepaid College Plans were sold in 1988, and were augmented with the addition of the Florida 529 Savings Plan in 2002. Florida Prepaid is the largest, longest running and most successful prepaid plan in the nation with more than 1.6 million Florida Prepaid College Plans purchased and more than $6.7 billion invested in Prepaid Plans by Florida families. The 529 Savings Plan has more than 50,000 active accounts with a market value of approximately $449 million. To see how Florida Prepaid helps families, visit here


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