The mission of the Road to Independence, Success, and Excellence program, better known as RISE, is to increase the graduation rate of students using the Florida Department of Children and Families Tuition and Fee Exemption and students using the Homeless Fee Exemption, as well as to enhance their overall academic experience.

The RISE program is housed at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus but serves all 11 SPC locations.

Road to Independence, Success, and Excellence (RISE) was established at St. Petersburg College in Fall 2020. Serving all eleven campuses and centers, the purpose of RISE is to increase the enrollment and retention rates of students utilizing the Department of Children and Family (DCF) Tuition and Fee Exemption waiver and to support students who are experiencing or facing homelessness. RISE also seeks to enhance the overall experience of students using these waivers through advocacy, mentorship, extracurricular opportunities, and streamlined connections to resources.

RISE Program Contact

Dr. Blake's photo

Dr. Althea Blake, Program Coordinator
Email: Blake.Althea@spcollege.edu
Office: 727-614-7002
Cell: 813-461-3338 (for emergency use only)

Office Hours:
Monday 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Remote
Tuesday 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Gibbs SA126
Wednesday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Seminole UP120 (5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Remote)
1st & 3rd Thursday 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Gibbs SA126
2nd & 4th Thursday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Clearwater SS112 (5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m., Remote)
Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Remote

Students and members of the community may click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Blake at your convenience.  Please make sure to indicate whether you prefer to meet in-person, by telephone, or by video call.

It is recommended that you bookmark this page.

For students in and from foster care:

How to submit your waiver to SPC:

  1. In your first semester at SPC, you must email your valid and signed DCF Form CF-FSP 5220 (DCF Tuition and Fee Exemption) to Dr. Blake at Blake.Althea@spcollege.edu.
  2. Once you have submitted your valid signed DCF Form CF-FSP 5220 to SPC and you are enrolled in classes for the term, complete SPC’s Department of Children and Families Tuition and Fee Exemption for 2020-21 enrollment form. You only need to submit your waiver ONCE; however, you are required to complete this form each term thereafter and every time you add/drop/change a class.

For additional information, view Tuition Waiver information provided by SPC Financial Aid. If you do not have access to your tuition waiver, you can contact DCF directly at 1-844-ILYOUTH (1-844-459-6884) to inquire about obtaining a copy.

For students experiencing or facing homelessness:

How to submit your waiver to SPC:

  1. Complete the Certification of Homelessness Once the form is completed by the agency or the person assisting you, it will route to SPC for review.
  2. Complete the Homeless Fee Exemption Enrollment Form; this allows SPC to place the waiver on your student account if it is approved. If you change your enrollment, complete the Homeless Fee Exemption Enrollment form AGAIN.

The 2021-2022 Rising Scholars application is now closed.

Eligible St. Petersburg College students utilizing the DCF and Homeless tuition exemptions may apply to become Rising Scholars.  The Rising Scholars program was established to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional resiliency and who are committed to achieving academic and personal excellence. 

In addition to the general support provided by RISE, students accepted into the Rising Scholar program will have access to additional benefits such as (pending resources):

  • Regular one-on-one success coaching with the RISE Program Coordinator
  • Free printing
  • Textbook and supplies assistance
  • Exploratory opportunities such as alternative spring break, study abroad, service-learning, and field trips
  • Leadership development through internships, job shadowing, and community service
  • Professional mentorship

The components of the Rising Scholars curriculum are based on best practices, with an expectation for our scholars to graduate from St. Petersburg College with a competitive edge and an increased capacity to lead and serve.

 Program Eligibility:

  • Must have an approved DCF Tuition & Fee Exemption or Homeless Exemption on file at St. Petersburg College
  • For continuing students:  Must be in good academic standing and have earned a previous term GPA of 2.0 or above
  • For new students:  High school GPA of at least 2.5 or above or passing GED score
  • Must commit to the following requirements:
    • Meet with the RISE Program Coordinator at least three times a semester.
    • Update your My Learning Plan (MLP) with academic advisor each semester.
    • Meet with your professional/faculty mentor at least once a semester.
    • Attend all RISE student success workshops.
    • Participate in at least one community service opportunity a semester.
    • Earn a term GPA of 2.0 or above and maintain good academic standing.

 Failure to fulfill the requirements of a Rising Scholar may result in release from the program.