For most children, lunchtime is for making friends and eating packed lunches or pizza. For 4th and 5th graders at Kathleen Elementary in Polk County, lunchtime is for thinking about the future.

The new “College Lunch Club” program is the brainchild of Kathleen Elementary Principal Lana Tatum and Pauline Simmonds-Brown, Program Facilitator for College is 4 Everyone, the local college access network serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.  The two developed the program as a way to expand students’ awareness of career possibilities and the postsecondary education they will need.

At this month’s meeting, students had the opportunity to learn from community partners about banking. Fifth graders heard from Bill Mills, President and CEO of the Florida Prosperity Partnership (FPP), which serves as the anchor organization for the College is 4 Everyone network, and 4th graders heard from FPP’s Strategic Initiatives Rob Sansome.

The monthly meetings will have different career-related theme, and professionals from the field will be invited to speak with the students.

Members of the “College Lunch Club” will receive t-shirts for participating in the program. Several of the students are contributing to the logo design for the shirts.

The Kathleen Elementary “College Lunch Club” is currently seeking professionals to speak with the students. If you are interested in being a part of the students’ journey to college, please email Pauline Simmonds-Brown at



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