Realizing a life-changing dream cannot be done alone! It begins with a personal vision and a work ethic that is committed to each small step to the big goal, but all along the way, it takes encouragement to keep the dream alive. It takes someone to believe in you and your ability to ACHIEVE your dream!
Angelica Ibarra, Executive Director of Achieve Plant City, understood this reality very early in life after her family came to the United States from Mexico in the early 1970s. The strawberry fields of Plant City were the starting point from which her family picked seasonal crops across the country in an effort to secure a better life. Ibarra enjoyed school, especially reading and Amelia Bedelia books, but the demands of the fields, depended upon by migrant families for income, made consistent education impossible. Ibarra remembers education as a challenge and not a priority for her family, and ultimately, she dropped out of school in the seventh grade. She would continue to work in the fields until her late 20s, when she decided to change the course of her life by pursuing a GED. The education path and, most importantly, her adult literacy teacher transformed her perspective on her future! Ibarra credits her teacher with daily encouraging her with the conviction that she could ACHIEVE! Indeed, she did ACHIEVE, with the continued mentoring of her teacher, to complete studies at Hillsborough Community College and a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida.
Founder and Executive Director
Out of a deep appreciation for the life-changing impact of education, and specifically for the encouragement of her teacher who believed that she could ACHIEVE, Ibarra was inspired to make her life journey going forward a commitment to advocating for literacy education. Because she understood first-hand what life BEFORE education did NOT offer for a future and the doors that are opened in life WITH and AFTER education, Ibarra began the Family Literacy Academy of Tampa Bay in 2003 in West Tampa while earning a certificate in nonprofit management at the University of Tampa, so that she could discover and utilize resources available within the community to make her efforts most successful. She would be drawn in 2011 to the roots of her dream, Plant City, where her program drew adults who longed to learn English. The background of many did not include school at all or no education beyond elementary. The path to their being able to change their lives and the lives of their families was the pursuit of literacy based on their learning to speak, read, and write English. In addition, when parents ACHIEVE literacy, they set a perfect example for their children of the importance of dedication to study and the immeasurable value of the education they will gain! This program would lead to the creation of Learn Tampa Bay, which is now known as Achieve Plant City. The organization was incorporated, and its status of 501(c)3 nonprofit was received in 2014. In May 2021, Achieve Plant City moved to its present location in the Wesley Centre in Plant City, and this year, it celebrates its 12th anniversary and exciting growth opportunities!
A nonprofit with the name Achieve literally shouts its mission- to help individuals gain success in life through literacy, which is the foundation for educational success, and empowerment, which is the daily encouragement of each one of our students that they, indeed, CAN ACHIEVE!
On this journey, every day, TODAY CHANGES TOMORROW!
Former Achieve Plant City Student, Paola Macias, PA-C
Florida State University College of Medicine Graduate