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The Hillsborough County Center of Excellence, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose vision is to build capacity in youth to excel in educational, cultural, and social endeavors.


The History of the Centers of Excellence

Established to identify and motivate historically disadvantaged minority elementary and secondary students and ultimately increase the pool of these students motivated and qualified to enter college. Ten Centers throughout Florida have provided the impetus for the induction of more than 19,000 high achieving students into the National Achievers Society. More than 16,000 students have participated in the Annual Brain Bowl Competitions.

Established in 1985, the Centers of Excellence (COE’s or Centers) are community-based initiatives whose mission is to identify and motivate disadvantaged minority elementary and secondary students. The Centers’ mission includes: a) assuming a more proactive stance in the education of youth; b) employing the development of a group achievement model for disadvantaged elementary and secondary students; and, c) increasing the pool of students who are prepared, motivated and qualified to enter higher education.

The Florida Education Fund has established the following four Center Of Excellence program requirements:

  1. ACADEMIC ENRICHMENT CENTERS – developed in communities to supplement student learning experiences through tutoring and standardized test preparation.
  2. NATIONAL ACHIEVERS SOCIETY (NAS) – designed to identify and acknowledge high achieving disadvantaged students.
  3. THE BLACK HISTORY & CULTURAL BRAIN BOWL – designed to improve academic skills outside traditional classrooms through local and statewide competitions in mathematics, history and culture, word definition, speech, and writing.
  4. AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCHES – intended to encourage and promote the church as an integral and primary resource in a significant portion of Center activities.
  5. WORD WIZARD – Students in grades 3 through 8 compete to spell and answer sentence completion and analogy questions on words taken from the FCAT vocabulary lists for their grade levels.

In addition, the FEF has developed the following two initiatives to expand the positive programmatic impact of the COE’s:

  1. NATIONAL BELIEVERS SOCIETY (NBS) – developed to recognize “academic determination” among students who may not meet the requirements of NAS. By recognizing this “academic determination,” we believe Believers will become National Achievers.
  2. AMBASSADORS OF EXCELLENCE – developed to formally engage parents and volunteers in support of COE activities.

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