Gopher Resource Sponsorship Helps Launch Hillsborough Education Foundation’s First College and Career Center

From Left to Right: Kim Jowell, Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO, Brian Leen, President and CEO Gopher Resource, Arlene Castelli, Principal King High School

Nov. 1 Ribbon-Cutting Celebrated New Resource at Tampa’s King High School

Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) knows that local high school students have a vital need for more support and guidance with postsecondary planning. A major contribution by Gopher Resource, Tampa, to HEF will help students better navigate the path to success after graduation.

The company’s sponsorship, along with funding from United Way Suncoast, has allowed HEF to open its first Student Center of Postsecondary Exploration (SCOPE) this fall at C. Leon King High School in Tampa. A ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the grades 9–12 public school, which serves over 1,600 students.

Gopher Resource: Committed to Community Good

Brian Leen is president and CEO of Gopher Resource, a national environmental solutions provider. He described the catalyst behind the company’s involvement with HEF and King High School.

“We want to continue making a significant and positive impact in our community. Education is a great way to do that, and we were very impressed by what HEF was doing for students to prepare them for life after high school.” In addition to financial support, the company will periodically provide employee volunteers who will be trained to assist at the Center.

“Gopher employs over 250 people at our Tampa plant. Investing in the success of local students with financial and volunteer support is a meaningful way for us to continue our efforts to support our community and help develop future talent,” Leen added.

Partnership Exemplifies Power of Private-Public Partnerships

Gopher Resource approached HEF about assisting area youth and their families. HEF proposed launching a new initiative to establish postsecondary centers in some of Hillsborough County’s high school guidance centers. Gopher Resource committed to the first center, with a two-year agreement. The sponsorship allowed for the hiring of a SCOPE coordinator at King High School to meet students where they are—impacting their lives and the future of our community. Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell expressed her gratitude for the funding.

“SCOPE’s goal is to provide equitable access to college and career exploration and post-graduation planning to empower all students with the information, resources and tools they need for success after high school. Whether students are interested in directly entering college, earning a certification or learning a skill, we will provide them with one-on-one support.”  She added, “The financial resources and engagement of Gopher Resource in SCOPE is an example of how private and public partnerships can create a brighter future for students and develop a diverse and skilled talent pipeline in the Tampa Bay region.”

SCOPE to Reach Hundreds of Students in First Year

The King High School SCOPE objectives for the 2022-23 academic year include:

  • Provide support and resources to at least 300 students to help them develop a post-high-school plan.
  • Offer workshops and webinars for students in career exploration, college readiness, financial literacy, and interviewing and resume writing skills – with 80% or more increasing their knowledge and confidence.
  • Provide guidance individually and to classroom groups.
  • Increase FAFSA (financial aid) completion by 5%.
  • Hold a parent engagement night.
  • Recruit, train and engage volunteers, including Gopher Resource employees.

Leen expects Gopher Resource’s employee volunteer commitment to grow along with the Center.

“We want to help students discover the opportunities and potential paths that are available and encourage them to develop a plan for their future. I envision our employee volunteers giving career presentations and mentoring students on a range of careers, including potential employment options at Gopher.”

About Gopher Resource

Gopher Resource is a leading national environmental solutions provider whose core business is the safe recycling of lead batteries, followed by select household waste recycling. Through innovative facilities in Tampa, FL, and Eagan, MN, the company helps prevent over 26 million spent automotive, industrial and stationary batteries from going into landfills each year and ensures their reuse into valuable, new consumer products.