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First Read: Recruiting 5,000 Role Models


This year, 500 black students in ten middle and high schools in Duval County will be paired with mentors through the “5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project,” an initiative to recruit 5,000 mentors over the course of 10 years. St. Augustine kicked off the 450th celebration of the founding of the country’s oldest city on Tuesday, a week-long celebration projected to bring in tourists from around the world. Organizers of One Spark Festival, billed as “the world’s largest crowdfunding festival,” announced a number of changes Monday.

It’s Wednesday, September 2, 2015. Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida and across the country.

Here are 6 stories you might have missed.

500 Black Duval County Students To Receive Mentors

The program began in Miami where Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti was the Chief Academic Officer, and he says it works. He says 95 percent of students enrolled in the program stopped getting referrals and graduated high school.

St. Augustine Kicks Off 450th Commemoration At Casa Monica

Starting Wednesday in St. Augustine, street festivals, live music and historical exhibits will be available free to the public, culminating with the reenactment of the city’s founding on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

One Spark 2016 To Be Shorter, Have Fewer Creators

Next year’s One Spark Festival promises to be smaller and shorter than in the past. One Spark board member Rena Coughlin says, for one thing, the length of the festival had become overly burdensome, so they’re cutting it back to three days.

Publix Debuts NFL Sponsored Sub Sandwiches

The Lakeland-based supermarket chain has rolled out signature subs for the four NFL teams with which it has sponsorship deals, the Jaguars among them.

Jacksonville National Youth Soccer Champions Honored At Florida Cabinet Meeting

A Jacksonville youth soccer club got special recognition Tuesday morning from Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet. The JFC Storm girls’ soccer team has won back-to-back national championships. At the cabinet meeting in St. Augustine, State Attorney General Pam Bondi proposed a resolution honoring the teenagers.

St. Johns County Leads With One Of State's Lowest Unemployment Rates

Economic Opportunity Department Executive Director Jesse Panuccio presented the rosy outlook to Gov. Rick Scott and other top state officials. “The unemployment rate locally is down from a recession high of 11.2 percent all the way down to 5.6 percent," he said, "and if we get hyperlocal and we talk just about [St. Johns] County, the county unemployment rate is 4 percent, one of the best in the state, so congratulations."

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Ray Hollister can be reached at, 904-358-6341 or on Twitter at @rayhollister.