Nine graduate from Goodwill Manasota's Workforce Education Program

Partnership with Ave Maria Preparatory School enables Goodwill employees with disabilities to earn high school diplomas

Published Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ave Maria Preparatory School GraduatesSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Since 2011, Goodwill Manasota and Ave Maria Preparatory School have partnered on the Workforce Education Scholarship Program. This program began when legislation was passed to assist anyone employed, 22-30 years old (it has since been expanded to 22-40 years old), with any type of disability to receive education to help them earn their high school diploma. Program participants are Goodwill Manasota employees with disabilities who wish to earn a high school diploma while keeping their jobs. On August 18, nine students – Ashley Anderson, Kim Brady, James Dennis, Alphonso Stewart, Melissa Douglas, Cassandra Pender, Rebecca Solomon, Chryelle Goodman and Manuel Cruz – graduated from the program.

The length of time it takes to complete the Workforce Education Program depends on how many high school credits the student already has; however, the average commitment is approximately two years. The students meet twice a week, once at the Goodwill Corporate Campus in Bradenton and once at the Ave Maria campus in Myakka City. The program offers small class sizes, enabling students to benefit from more personal attention from instructors. It is free to all participants.

“Goodwill has been a tireless advocate for our school and for individuals with disabilities,” said Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, founder and CEO of Ave Maria. “Our students have achieved greater heights because Goodwill helped to show them that they were valued, that they were worth the effort. Our partnership has created a purpose for many of our students who have earned their diplomas – students who were just going through the system now have a chance to achieve self-sufficiency.”

“Goodwill’s partnership with Ave Maria has created the platform that takes participants from Goodwill employment to their diplomas to full-time jobs in the community,” said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “We want to empower people and show them they are worth the time and investment to help them achieve job and life success. With a high school diploma, our Workforce Education Program participants can reach higher, whether with Goodwill or another company. We congratulate this year's graduates on their momentous achievement."

Approximately 85 students have been served through the Workforce Education Program since its inception in 2011; to date, 22 have graduated. For more information, call (941) 355-2721 or go to


Photo ID: (Back row, from l-r) Sister Mary Hope, Sister Edith Aliano, Ashley Anderson, Manuel Cruz and Alphonso Stewart; (front row, l-r) James Dennis, Chryelle Goodman, Susan Neaves, district secretary for Florida Representative Ray Pilon, Melissa Douglas, Rebecca Solomon, Goodwill Manasota vice president Margie Genter, and Ave Maria founder and CEO Sister Gilchrist Cottrill during the Workforce Education Program graduation


About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit