The following is an article from ABC7
Amanda Lojewski | July 2021
FORT MYERS, Fla.– Tuesday morning, Florida Gulf Coast University broke ground for a second pilot house.
A pilot house offers a communal living space, overseen by a house manager and a board of directors.
Seventeen women share the cooking and cleaning. The house is rent-free.
Each resident is chosen based on academics, character, and financial need.
The scholarships, annual operations, and placement are overseen by the Southern Scholarship Foundation. SSF and FGCU are expanding the program to meet campus demand.
Danarria Stone is the house manager at the university’s first pilot house, The Gresham-Kite Scholarship House. She is also the first member of her family to attend college.
“Being a first-generation student, we didn’t know all the costs that went into attending not only a university but also paying for housing, considering if we needed a meal plan and whatnot,” said Stone.
While college was always the plan for Stone, when the acceptance letters started coming in the mail, she was speechless.
“That moment when you receive that big envelope in the mail it was just like I already know what it is you know it was just an exciting time to be like look I got accepted and to share that with my family knowing that this is the first time they’re even seeing this,” she said.
Not only did she get accepted to attend FGCU, but she was also accepted into the current pilot house. She has lived in the house since 2018 and says it’s one of the reasons she doesn’t want to leave.
“They’ve given me an opportunity to live rent-free for all the years I’m having an education and I can’t ever repay them,” said Stone.
This house was built to give FGCU students an opportunity to get a jump start at adulthood, which Alumni Melanie Beatty experienced first hand.
“Everything you learn in this house and the people you meet and the community it’s everything,” Beatty said.
Going to school was always in Beatty’s plan too but it wasn’t in her family’s budget. She said going away to college wasn’t a guarantee and with four kids.
However, the opportunity to live in FGCU’s first pilot house made it so she could afford her education on her own.
“You can put more of that money towards graduate school or starting a business, many other things that kind of sets other students back when they have to take out loans for tuition or housing,” said Stone.
Thanks to plans for an additional pilot house, another set of 17 women will have the same experience as Stone and Beatty.
“It’s amazing to see the work is still continuing and that they’re impacting more lives than when I came here, it’s incredible,” said Beatty.
The new house is set to be complete by Fall 2022.