MCEF helps students in need



We could not exist without our donors.  A donation of $18,407 – together with the 100% State match – will pay all tuition and local fees for 4 college years, and dormitory housing for 2 years for one Monroe County student.  To make a donation click on the donate button above.

Thanks for your donation!


KWHS senior finalist for $40K fellowship

Suspicion, reluctance and minor teen-aged annoyance were quickly replaced by surprise and elation Tuesday morning at Key West High School, where administrators mysteriously called senior Anna Mott out of class.

Not knowing what to expect, Mott walked tentatively with a wary eye on the videographer who was following her down the hall.

“Anna wants to attend University of Florida, then medical school to become a forensic pathologist,” said Lindsay Moore, the Success Coach at Key West High. “So we told her Tuesday morning that we had a crime scene we needed her to examine.”

The key piece of “evidence,” found in the school’s courtyard, was a wadded piece of paper that looked like garbage. But that garbage could be worth $40,000.

The paper informed Mott she’d been selected as one of 12 finalists for a Leaders 4 Life college fellowship, which is part of the state’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program. The fellowship provides up to $10,000 a year for four years and can be used for all college-related expenses, not just tuition.

A fellowship selection committee will announce the six Leaders 4 Life fellows on Dec. 15, said Moore, adding that all 12 finalists won a MacBook computer that they can use to submit a video interview to the selection committee. 

Mott’s application essays have gotten her this far. In the essays about leadership and future plans, Mott detailed the difficult lessons she’s learned in recent years about herself, her strengths and her ability to take responsibility for her own happiness and success.

In her nearly four years of high school, Mott has faced and overcome more adversity than many experience in an entire lifetime. The day before Mott’s 15th birthday, her father lost his leg in an amputation due to diabetes and a stroke. His surgery, struggle and subsequent disability made the financial burden of college more overwhelming  than ever. A short time later, while Mott was visiting her grandparents up north, she received a devastating text message: Her best friend had died. 

And to round out the troubling trinity, Mott’s parents divorced. After a semester of admitted wallowing in self-pity, Mott turned things around.  A television production video she created won a film contest and she was accepted into an international studies program that allowed her to spend the summer of 2016 in Japan. The experience breathed new life and determination into the high school honor student.

“Everyone thinks of leadership as one person giving orders and being responsible for others,” Mott wrote in her application essay. “I disagree. I think anyone can be a leader anywhere, at any time, as long as they are taking charge of their own lives. This may sound simple, but too many people stumble around life just hoping that all the right pieces fall together, and if not, life just isn’t fair to them. But life isn’t fair. The ability to pick themselves up and dust themselves off when life has got them down is what makes a leader. I should know, I used to be one of those people who sulked whenever things went wrong, but didn’t actually try and change it.”

Congratulations to our graduates from the class of 2017!  

Graduation 2017
Photo courtesy of Craig Kerns


Click here to watch a video of the Take Stock in Children Monroe County graduation ceremony.  

Graduation video courtesy of Florida Keys Television








BY MANDY MILES Citizen Staff

College was never even an option, much less a foregone conclusion for the 54 high school seniors who sat proudly on stage at Marathon High School on Saturday morning. Six years ago, when those students entered seventh grade, high school graduation was the finish line for their education. Now it’s the starting gate, as every member of Monroe County’s Take Stock in Children Class of 2017 will start college in the fall, said Chuck Licis, program director.

The Take Stock in Children program provides college scholarships for low-income students who enter the program in seventh grade, when they sign a contract agreeing to stay in school and out of trouble while maintaining a C average through high school. In return, Take Stock in Children provides them with two years’ tuition at a Florida community college, followed by two years at a state university, although there are options that enable some students to head directly to a four-year university after high school.

Funds for the scholarships are provided by foundations, grants and generous individual donors from the Florida Keys community who have made Monroe County’s Take Stock in Children program the strongest in the state. The island community each year donates enough money to fund scholarships for every seventh grader who meets the income requirements. The rest is up to the student.

Donations are invested in the Florida Pre-Paid College program, which funds the scholarships.

Saturday’s ceremony for this year’s Take Stock graduates featured moving speeches by three graduates, one from each of the county’s high school, and a commencement address by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, prince of Ethiopia.

“Nothing is a given,” Selassie told the students. “Life can blindside you and bring surprises. But the families you come from, the struggles you’ve overcome and the achievements you’ve earned give you strength and character.”

One of the student speakers, Carlie Meehan acknowledged the financial difficulties in her single- parent household, where she contributed to the family’s bills as soon as she was old enough to work.

“I hadn’t initially realized how truly important this program would be to me until I had started high school,” said Meehan, who will attend University of Florida in the fall.

Key West High School graduate Don Ellington moved the audience Saturday when he recited an original poem that he wrote in tribute to his mentor and the Take Stock program.

Coral Shores High School graduate Lili Torres thanked her family, her mentor and the Florida Keys community for supporting the Take Stock program.  She’s off to Florida State University in the fall, and recognizes the significance of her scholarship.

“Life is made up of moments and sometimes we don’t know the value of a moment until it’s over,” Torres said. “But this one … this is an important one. So thank you, everyone, for not only believing in us, but for believing in our future.”


  • Photo courtesy of Craig Kerns

Take Stock in Children Monroe County Needs Mentors

Why Mentor?

Mentoring is a powerful avenue to provide positive personal contacts for our “at-risk” youth. Your influence can build a foundation of basic values and challenge students to take responsibility for their actions. They can start to set goals and understand the importance of staying in school. As students begin to realize that someone cares, school absenteeism decreases and academic performance improves.

By building self worth and demonstrating that someone cares, students will have a better chance of staying in school and playing a productive role in the community. As a successful person, you will be able to share your experiences with a student and open a new world of possibilities to them.

Who Can Be A Mentor?

A mentor is a responsible adult who is willing to share time with a student on a consistent basis. The mentor will show the student that someone cares about them and wants them to stay in school. You will become a friend and a role model to a student who may not otherwise have an adult to guide their actions and choices, which are critical to their future success.

What Does A Mentor Do?

A mentor commits to working with a student at school for a minimum of 1/2 hour a week during the school year. The mentor should maintain a consistent meeting schedule in order to develop and nurture a relationship with the student. During the weekly meetings, the mentor may progress through various discussion topics, help the student set goals, or simply listen. Take Stock in Children is not a tutorial program. We encourage helping the student with some homework, but sometimes the student just needs someone who will listen and provide encouragement.

Where Do I Mentor?

All mentoring is done on the school campus, usually in the library, cafeteria, or other commons area of the school. Mentor-student meetings take place ONLY at school and during elective class periods.

When Can I Mentor?

Mentoring sessions take place during the school year, during school hours on school grounds. A schedule is arranged between you, your student and his or her Take Stock Success Coach as to when would be the best time for you and your student to meet.

How Does A Mentor Know What To Do?

After an initial orientation and training session, you will meet your student at school during a mentor-student gathering. A Take Stock Success Coach will provide guidance and support on site. A mentor handbook provides helpful information and tips to guide you in the mentoring process. Also, the foundation has a web site at

How Does A Mentor Benefit?

There is an opportunity for personal growth, developing new skills, and making new friends of all ages. Additional benefits may include the satisfaction of helping children learn, recognition for contributing to the community, and a higher productivity and creativity at work.

When you have decided to make the commitment to work with a Take Stock student, you can complete a Take Stock in Children mentor application. You will attend a scheduled Take Stock Mentor Training session with Take Stock staff and sign a commitment form with the student and a Take Stock Success Coach as to your meeting time and method of communication. You will then be matched with a student who will benefit from your influence.

Qualities Of Effective Mentors

*Have a genuine concern for young people

*Respect and accept different points of view

*Respect the right of individuals to make their own choices

*Relate well to individuals with different experiences and cultures

* Can empathize with another person’s problems

* Are patient and good listeners

* See solutions as well as obstacles

Take Stock in Children – Monroe County 241 Trumbo Road, Key West, FL 33040 305-293-1546


Take Stock in Children

Take Stock in Children LogtoTSIC of Monroe County, Florida is the flagship program of the foundation. It grants college scholarships upon high school graduation to qualified 7th-12th grade student-recipients of low-income families residing in the county.  TSIC Monroe is an award winning model in the State of Florida, a concerted endeavor consisting of almost 250 dedicated volunteer mentors and students with a network of individual donors,  corporate sponsors and a hardworking staff.



The Monroe County Education Foundation recognized the accomplishments and celebrated the graduation of 54 Take Stock in Children scholars on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. in the Marathon High School Auditorium.  


The Monroe County Education Foundation, established in 1996, is a Florida not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing and improving the educational experiences of students within Monroe County.  Over 250 students from Monroe County have received scholarships since the program was founded. For more information about MCEF or to donate, please visit or contact Chuck Licis, program director for TSIC Monroe County at


Monroe County Sheriff’s Department Donates Computers

Monroe County Sheriff's Office Computer donation
TSIC 9th grade scholar Adrianna Otero, who will be receiving one of the computers, is shown (below) with her mentor, Donatella Vavnucci-Kelly, Sheriff Rick Ramsay, and TSIC Coordinator Chuck Licis.

To help our Take Stock in Children students who do not have a computer at home to use for their school work, the Sheriff’s Office is donating 10 computers, laptops and desktops.

Learn more about Take Stock in Children Monroe County

Become a mentor

Contact Chuck Licis at 305-293-1546 or you may email him at