On Wednesday, May 17th, the Manatee County Law Enforcement Council held their monthly meeting.  The first item on the agenda was “Cops for Change” and Diana Dill, Executive Director of Take Stock in Children of Manatee County, was there to explain.

“Sheriff Rick Wells announced the idea when he participated in our Leadership Prayer Breakfast as the keynote speaker,” explained Dill, “He saw that a caring mentor and the promise of a college education can change the trajectory for a low-income, at-risk child.”

Cops for Change is an initiative of the Manatee County Sheriff Department in collaboration with Take Stock Manatee and the Suncoast United Way.  Sheriff Wells has challenged all Manatee County law enforcement agencies to raise money for scholarships for local children.  To assist in this challenge, Take Stock Manatee produced “Cops for Change” canisters to encourage members of the community to donate their spare change.  In addition to the Sheriff’s Department other Law Enforcement Agencies, such as the Bradenton, Palmetto, New College and Holmes Beach Police Departments, the State Attorney’s Office, and the Clerk’s Office will distribute “Cops for Change” canisters across the county.

Dill continued, “We are hoping to raise enough money through this initiative to invite at least one student into our program.  This student would be matched with a volunteer mentor from Law Enforcement to meet during the school day and, upon successful completion of the program, receive a 4-year tuition scholarship.”  Those students selected for the Take Stock Manatee program sign an agreement to maintain good grades, behavior and attendance throughout their educational career.  The Cops for Change Scholarship recipient would be selected in collaboration with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading from among Manatee County third graders who pass their standardized testing, qualify for free or reduced lunch and have perfect attendance in their third grade year.

“I am so proud of this partnership with Manatee County Law Enforcement,” says Dill.  In addition to this partnership with the Sheriff’s Department, Take Stock Manatee has been working with Chief Melanie Bevan of the Bradenton Police Department since the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year to increase the number of officers among Take Stock’s mentors.  “Chief Bevan mentors a student at Manatee High School and she has encouraged all of her officers to participate in our program as mentors.  I think that community impact of these mutually beneficial relationships is huge and the officers find the experience extremely rewarding,” says Dill.

Look for Cops for Change Canisters across Manatee County and give generously.  Your spare change could change the course of a child’s life.