Centers of Excellence

Established in 1984 to identify and motivate underserved elementary and secondary students and ultimately increase the pool of these students prepared and qualified to enter college. Ten Centers throughout Florida have inducted more than 19,000 high achieving students into the National Achievers Society. More than 16,000 students have participated in the Annual Brain Bowl Scholarship Competitions.

South Florida COE

The Centers of Excellence (COE's or Centers) are community-based initiatives whose mission is to identify and motivate underserved elementary and secondary students to pursue higher education. The Centers' mission includes: a) assuming a more proactive stance in the education of youth; b) employing the development of a group achievement model for underserved elementary and secondary students; and, c) increasing the pool of students who are prepared, motivated and qualified to enter higher education.

Ten Centers operate throughout the State of Florida, in Dade City, Ft. Lauderdale, Gainesville, Lake City, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, and Tampa. Each offers programming and services to support individual and group motivation, academic skill development, cultural enrichment, career awareness and increased exposure to and preparation for higher education.


FEF has established the following four COE program requirements:

Academic Enrichment Centers

Programs operate in communities to supplement student educational experiences through tutoring and standardized test preparation.

National Achievers Society (NAS)

NAS identifies, acknowledges, and prepares high achieving underserved students for higher education.

Brain Bowl Academic Competitions

The Brain Bowl improves academic skills outside traditional classrooms through local and statewide scholarship competitions in history and culture, mathematics, and speechwriting/oration, as well as contests in coding, word definition, and writing.

African American Churches

Centers are encouraged to include the church as an integral and primary resource in a significant portion of their activities.


In addition, FEF has developed the following two initiatives to expand the positive programmatic impact of the COE's:

Believers Society

This subgroup of NAS recognizes "academic determination" among students who may not meet the requirements of NAS. By recognizing and nurturing this "academic determination," we believe Believers will become National Achievers.

Association of Achievers Parents

This group formally engages parents in support of COE activities.


COE Program Highlights:

  • Approximately 3,500 students participate annually in the ten Centers.
  • More than 19,000 students have been inducted into the National Achievers Society since 1986.
  • More than 16,000 students have participated as team members in the Annual Brain Bowl Scholarship Competitions.
  • More than 700 students have won Brain Bowl college scholarships since 1985.

COE Locations:

Atlantic Coast Center of Excellence
Ms. Sahira Bacchus, Director
Urban League of Broward County
560 NW 27th Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33311
Office (954) 625-2560
Fax (754) 200-5750
sbacchus@ulbcfl.org

North Florida Center of Excellence
Ms. Gloria McIntosh, Director
Lake City School Board
372 W. Duval Street
Lake City, Florida 32025
Office (386) 755-8080 x293
Fax (386) 754-5301
ggmac216@hughes.net

Palm Beach County Center of Excellence
Ms. Marie Sanches, Director
Urban League of Palm Beach County, Inc.
1700 North Australian Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
Office: (561) 833-1461 x3018
Fax: (561) 833-6050
msanches@ulpbc.org

Pasco-Hernando Center of Excellence
Mr. Imani D. Asukile, Director
Pasco-Hernando State College
West Campus-District Office 10230 Ridge Road
New Port Ritchey, Florida 34654
Office (727) 816-3192
Fax (727) 816-3208
asukili@phsc.edu

St. Petersburg College Center of Excellence
Mr. Neil Keith, Director
St. Petersburg College
13805 58th St. N

EP TE 1-105
Largo, Florida 33760
Office (727) 614-7056
keith.neil@spcollege.edu

Santa Fe College Center of Excellence
Ms. Harriet Stafford, Director
Santa Fe College R-211
3000 NW 83rd Street
Gainesville, Florida 32606
Office (352) 395-5955
Fax (352) 395-7395
harriet.stafford@sfcollege.edu

South Florida Center of Excellence
Ms. Timothy Dean, Director
Florida International University
Modesto A. Maidique Campus, GC 331
11200 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33199
Office (305) 348-1742
Fax (305) 348-1743
tdean@fiu.edu

Tallahassee Area Coalition
   Center of Excellence

Dr. Malinda Jackson James, Director
Leon County School Board
2757 West Pensacola Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32304
Office (850) 487-7159 or (800) 245-9449
Fax (850) 487-7194
malindajj@comcast.net

Tampa Area Center of Excellence
Ms. Monica Montes
201 East Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1525
Tampa, Florida 33602
Office (813) 272-2772
Fax (813) 272-2784
coe@fefonline.org
http://www.tacoe.org

University of Central Florida-McKnight
   Center of Excellence

Mr. Jerry Morrison, Director
Student Outreach Services
Student Development and Enrollment Services
P.O. Box 163620
Orlando, FL 32816
Office (407) 823-5580
Fax (407) 823-6216
jerry.morrison@ucf.edu