TAMPA, FL (September 09, 2019) – IDEA Public Schools is getting a boost to its recently announced expansion plans within the Tampa Bay, Florida region thanks to the generosity of the Vinik Family Foundation. The Foundation just announced a $5 million gift to help IDEA launch new schools in Hillsborough, Polk, and Pinellas Counties. This gift comes on the heels of the Hillsborough County School Board’s unanimous approval on May 7, 2019 for IDEA to begin operating schools in Tampa Bay starting in 2021.
“It is critical that every student receives a high-quality education. To get there, we need excellent public schools and we need strong, non-profit choices like IDEA,” Jeff and Penny Vinik said in a statement. “We are happy to do our part to ensure every kid, in every neighborhood has access to an education that will lay the foundation for their future success. It’s the most important investment we can make.”
The Vinik Family Foundation (VFF) is a private foundation created and managed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny. Founded in 1997, VFF has donated over $100 million to nonprofits working in the areas of education, human services, healthcare and the arts.
IDEA Public Schools is a network of tuition-free, college preparatory public charter schools founded in the Rio Grande Valley in 2000. Currently, the network serves nearly 53,000 college-bound students in 96 schools across Texas and Louisiana. For 13 consecutive years, 100 percent of IDEA Public Schools’ graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. IDEA alumni – many of whom are the first in their family to attend college – graduate college at five times the national average.
Based on IDEA’s track record of success, Florida education proponents have been working to bring the high-performing charter school network to the sunshine state.
“We are so thrilled to have IDEA Public Schools expanding to the Tampa Bay area,” said Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Florida Department of Education. “We need more high-quality options for our children. We are excited to work with IDEA to help provide more high-quality school options for Tampa Bay students and families.”
“Our district is proud to be a state and national leader when it comes to delivering results for students,” said Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins. “When you look at their record of success, you can clearly see how IDEA Public Schools matches that same mindset. I’m confident that adding their expertise to our community will lead to an even stronger future here in Hillsborough County.”
Tampa Bay will be IDEA’s first region in the state of Florida. The network plans to launch four new schools in this area in 2021, eventually growing to 20 schools at 10 campuses in Tampa Bay by 2028. At full scale, IDEA will serve almost 15,000 K-12 students in Tampa Bay annually.
“IDEA Tampa Bay is committed to College for All Children. We believe every child can and will succeed if given the opportunity,” said Julene Robinson, Executive Director of IDEA’s Tampa Bay region. “Thanks to a relay of strong education leaders, Florida has made great strides in improving educational choice, accountability, and opportunities, but much work remains. In several communities, a disheartening number of schools have earned a ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade for at least three of the past five years. IDEA Public Schools will provide an additional education option to close the opportunity gap and increase levels of achievement for students and families in Tampa Bay.”