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PRESS RELEASE

March 11, 2005

Vivian Myrtetus
(850) 245-0413

Fonda Anderson
Volunteer Florida Foundation
(727) 821-2056

K-12 Chancellor Warford Announces Opening of Teen Trendsetters Application

LAKELAND – Jim Warford, Chancellor of K-12 for the Florida Department of Education, announced today the opening of the application process for the Teen Trendsetters(tm) Reading Mentors program. The program recruits high school students to start mentoring clubs within their schools and recruit classmates to mentor third-graders in reading. The program is managed by the nonprofit Volunteer Florida Foundation.

"Of the many effective programs we have working to help struggling young readers, this is one of the best," said Chancellor Warford. "Children look up to teenagers and Trendsetters make the most of this hero-worship status in helping younger children improve their reading skills, while earning community service points that are applicable to many scholarships. It is a positive learning experience for both the mentors and the mentees."

New Trendsetters for the 2005-06 academic year will be selected through a competitive essay process.

"Since we began in 2002, the Trendsetter program has made a positive impact on both the children and teens involved in it," said Liza McFadden, President of Volunteer Florida Foundation. "In fact, new research from Florida State University shows once again that mentored students have greater learning gains than non-mentored students. Trendsetters play an important role."

To apply, teens must submit an essay application. Information is available at www.FloridaNEXT.com/trendsetters. Applications must be submitted through this website address. Applicants must be enrolled in a Florida high school to be eligible. Also, new Trendsetters will be selected from high schools that do not currently have an active club. High schools students graduating during the 2004-05 year are not eligible. A complete list of active Trendsetter clubs is attached.

Trendsetters who lead their schools' clubs will be invited to a two-day training session in Orlando. The summit will take place in July. Training includes a special curriculum designed for the program.

The Trendsetter program is part of the Florida Mentoring Partnership, formerly know as the Governor's Mentoring Initiative. The Trendsetter program was developed in partnership between Volunteer Florida Foundation and Florida Trend's NEXT magazine for teens.