Our Programs


Our home-grown mentoring program that builds STEAM, improves grades and prevents youth (7-17) from getting involved in risky behaviors

Town N' County and Wimauma

HIV/AIDS Education, Counseling, and Testing

Through a Florida Department of Health license, we provide free RAPID HIV testing and services, FREE


FICS offers weekly computer coding classes for its youth. Coding has been proven to help improve critical thinking and math skills. In addition, coding paves the way for future job opportunities!

Partners in Well-being

FICS programming has been strategically focused on responding to identified community needs and an overall request to assist in creating more wellness, opportunities and positive outcomes at the individual, family, peer/school and community levels

Volunteer Program: Mentoring and Tutoring

Through our volunteers and partnerships we provide on-site tutoring and mentoring free of charge. We have a site license for youth to access MobyMax.com for FREE

Research, Planning, and evaluation

Our staff have expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, from design to data collection to analysis and reporting. Available in English and Spanish.


We offer youth FREE arts/crafts and theater classes through our contract with UACDC for Prodigy Cultural Arts! Currently we have art and dance! Stay tuned for more!

All Things Culture & Straz Partnership

We are bridging the gap between arts, art education, and our communities with partners at the Straz and Arts Council!

Our Mission

To PARTNER with communities across Florida to help them achieve their goals through research, education, training, services and the arts. FICS believes that communities know their strengths and gaps better than anyone else. We work to build on the strengths to close gaps through active partnerships.



FICS Holiday Celebration

FICS celebrated its Annual Holiday Celebration with a visit from Santa and Hillsborough County School Board Member Ms. Karen Perez

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Art of the Future at FICS

Through out Prodigy Art Program, youth guided by instructor Jake Brown, worked together planning our ideal world.

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Tampa Museum of Art at FICS

Due to multiple factors, our November 7th field trip to the Tampa Museum of Art was postponed, but that did not stop them from coming to us!

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Upcoming Events

Our Impact

FICS works at the community level to identify gaps and strengths. Through our community advisers, we use those strengths to write plans and create effective programs that build resilience and keep youth out of gangs, help make people healthier, and HIV and Substance free. Our reach extends to thousands of people per year, and we have documented significant improvements in teen pregnancy reduction, violence prevention, improved community responsibility and reduced dependence on law enforcement, prisons, and healthcare systems. We estimate a conservative savings to our community of $4.89 for every dollar spent on after school programs, meaning we have saved the community $1.5 million for youth. In terms of diabetics’ outcomes, we have documented a cost-savings of $782,811 per year.

Our Model

Community at the Center

FICS serves as a facilitator in assisting community by working across partners and groups in a way that allows youth, parents, researchers, community members, educators, and professionals to interact, exchange information and knowledge to create solutions.

Our Finances

Transparency is a focus of the Florida Institute for Community Studies. We proudly provide financial information to GuideStar. Because of our transparency, we have earned GuideStar’s Gold Participant status. 

Where do we spend our money?

Program Expenses
Administrative Cost (Rent, Office Supplies, printing, etc.)
Misc. Expenses

Based on 2018 financial reports. FICS exceeds industry standards in ensuring grant donations go to our programs, not marketing or executive salaries. 

Our Facility

FICS is located at Morgan Woods Park in Town n’ Country, Florida. Our facility includes the following:

FICS In the News!

FICS was seen on ABC Nightly News. In the image, Jordon Montaez, 13, left, and Mariana Soto, 10, participate in e-learning Monday at the Florida Institute for Community Studies while director Alayne Unterberger talks with Soto’s teacher to troubleshoot issues on the first day of school for Hillsborough County in Tampa. (Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times/AP)

Storycorps Interviews

Episode 1

Debbie King (42) shares a conversation with her friend, El Campbell (31), about gender fluidity, coming out, community, capitalism, and living with a chronic illness.

Episode 2

Fen Ganymede (30) talks with their friend Dr. Alayne Unterberger (56) about their experience teaching non-traditional differently abled students, their own ADHD and their inspiration to become an educator.

Episode 3

Friends Russell “Russ” Patterson (69) and Dr. Alayne Unterberger (56) discuss Russ’s upbringing, his military service and travels, and his political involvement over the years.

Interesting Facts

Achievements that we are proud of

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FICS Multicultural Center Visitors (since 2005)

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Documented Volunteer Hours Per Year

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Households Served in our Partners in Welness Program

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Hours of Code Completed by Youth in our Coding4Success Program

Meet our Executive Director

Dr. Alayne Unterberger

Executive Director

Alayne is a co-founder of FICS, which grew out of a series of initiatives with community leaders, students, professors and activists from across the state. She is passionate about FICS’ motto: CARE. It stands for Community, Activism, Research and Education. These four pillars emerged from community participatory research and reflect our belief that communities know their strengths and needs best. We work to develop community voices to advocate for solutions that create the conditions for success. Dr. Unterberger possesses a PhD in Medical Anthropology from the University of Florida and currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Public Health at the University of South Florida. 

Email: alayneu@ficsinc.org


  • PhD Medical Anthropology, University of Florida
  • MA Anthropology, University of South Florida
  • BA, International Relations and Spanish, Juniata College

Other Professional Activities:

  • Adjunct Professor of Public Health, University of South Florida
  • Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Hillsborough Community College


Meet our Board Chairman

Carlton Lewis

Chairman of the Board

Education:  Bachelor of Arts, Human Resource Management, Saint Leo University

Awards and Honors:

  • Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year 2005
  • Hillsborough County, Florida Citizenship Award 2004
  • Hillsborough County of Children Services Citizenship Award 2003
  • Hillsborough County Moral Courage Award, Timberlane Crime Watch 1993
  • Honor Graduate, Cum Laude, Saint Leo College, Delta Epsilon Sigma 1993
  • Veteran of 20 years United States Army, Military Intelligence, 1991

Meet our Director of Technology

Scott Schneider

Director of Technology

Scott’s journey at FICS began in May 2019 with an application on Volunteer Match to be FICS’ Webmaster. In 2 months, Scott completely overhauled the FICS website, migrating from Google Sites, to WordPress. After 2 months as a volunteer, he fell in love with the community and the organization. In July 2019, Scott took on the role of IT Manager, working to modernize the organizations web presence and on-site IT infrastructure. One of his major accomplishments was the procurement of high speed internet service and installation of an internet line at FICS’ Morgan Woods location. In March 2020, when COVID-19 spread through our community, Scott worked to digitalize FICS’ programming so that services could resume remotely. In April 2020, Scott responded to the healthcare needs of the community by joining a large health system as a nursing assistant on the Covid-19 Care Unit. Today, Scott is back at FICS as our Director of Technology where he continues to work towards finding innovative ways to expand our programming utilizing technology and expanding our digital footprint. In addition, he holds weekly computer coding lessons for our youth. In addition to working with FICS, Scott is a Application Analyst for a major healthcare system. Scott possesses a Bachelors of Healthcare Administration from Polk State College. 


Bachelor of Applied Science, Healthcare Administration, Polk State College


  • Microsoft Office Specialist Certification
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace Certification
  • Inclusive and Ethical Leadership Certification

Professional Affiliations:
-Member of the Computer Science Teachers Association

Volunteer With FICS


FICS is in constant need of volunteers. We are currently seeking 

  • Enthusiastic mentors
  • Event Volunteers
  • Data Entry Volunteers
  • Cleaning/Maintenance Volunteers


  • At Least 14 Years Old*
  • Orientation Mandatory

*If Under 18, a parent must attend orientation. 

Questions? Email our volunteer coordinator by clicking here!


Donate to FICS

Donate to FICS


FICS is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization, therefore all contributions are tax-deductible. Consult your tax professional for more details.

Donations are processed securely through Square.  To view their privacy policy click here..

Our Sponsors

FICS greatly appreciates the sponsorships within our community. For more information on how to sponsor FICS and our mission please contact our executive director by clicking here!

Get in Touch

Florida Institute for Community Studies


To PARTNER with communities across Florida to help them achieve their goals through research, education, training, services and the arts. FICS believes that communities know their strengths and gaps better than anyone else. We work to build on the strengths to close gaps through active partnerships.

FICS Board of Directors

Carlton Lewis, Chair

Cloe Cabrera
Dr. Georgina Rivera-Singletary PhD
Pablo Sierra
Vanessae Vazquez
Laura Wright

Equal Opportunity Statement

FICS does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors.