News Releases

FutureMakers partners with FGCU to establish Student African American Brotherhood chapter

FutureMakers partners with FGCU to establish Student African American Brotherhood chapter

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 31, 2016) – The FutureMakers Coalition has partnered with Florida Gulf Coast University to establish a local Student African American Brotherhood chapter.

More than a dozen advisory committee members and students recently attended a steering committee meeting held at FGCU.

The SAAB is a national organization founded by Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe in 1990 to address academic and social challenges of African-American male college students. The post-secondary program works with young men and boys to get them enrolled and graduated from college. Today, SAAB has grown to more than 300 student-run chapters in 28 states. Each chapter includes academic advising and mentorship to assist members in excelling academically, socially, culturally and professionally in the community.

“FGCU recognizes the challenges faced by first generation and low-income minority students,” said J. Webb Horton, assistant director of community outreach at FGCU and SAAB advisor. “As a region, we are working together with the FutureMakers Coalition to eliminate barriers to attainment because we know we need a better trained workforce to meet present and future employment demands, improve quality of life and support a more sustainable economy in Southwest Florida.”

The partnership was coordinated through the FutureMakers Coalition by Lumina Foundation, along with SAAB and FGCU. Southwest Florida is one of 75 Community Partnership for Attainment areas working alongside Lumina Foundation to increase post-secondary attainment nationwide while increasing the number of working-age adults with degrees and certifications. Lumina is providing free technical assistance in starting the SAAB chapter.

“We are looking at ways to enhance best practices across the region through collective impact efforts to address these challenges and promote equity in post-secondary access and attainment,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition. “SAAB is a best practice because it focuses on increasing the number of African American and Latino men who graduate from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring.”

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025. 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected].

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Southwest Florida Community Foundation satellite offices open

Southwest Florida Community Foundation satellite offices open

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently added additional satellite offices in downtown Fort Myers and LaBelle (Hendry County) to the current Fort Myers Community Hub and Sanibel Island office locations.  The office space provides meeting space for Foundation staff  and serves as a resource for the FutureMakers Coalition work in the region.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation downtown Fort Myers office located in the Rocket Lounge:

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Southwest Florida Community Foundation LaBelle office in Hendry County, shared with the Economic Development Council:

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Real World Learning Model Student Highlight: Darchelle Excellent

Real World Learning Model Student Highlight: Darchelle Excellent

by Jason Kurek, Champions for Learning

“If you know you have the potential to do something, then you need to do it,” says Darchelle Excellent, Champions For Learning Real World Learning Model participant and a Naples Daily News 2016 Graduate of Distinction.

Darchelle’s motivation to reach her full potential came from her parents who immigrated to the United States from Haiti. Despite searching for a better life, Darchelle and her family struggled.

“My family struggled financially. Growing up I knew I didn’t want that. I wanted to do something about my situation, so I focused on my education,” says Darchelle.

Her drive led her to attend Lorenzo Walker Technical High and in 10th grade she decided to dual enroll at Florida SouthWestern State College. Her classes have helped her get a head start on her career of becoming a nurse practitioner with a focus on neonatology. Darchelle’s love of helping her community sparked her interest in the medical field, but it was something close to home that solidified her decision.

“I always wanted to become a nurse,” says Darchelle. “But once my little sister was born premature I knew that this was the field I needed to get into.”

Despite having big plans for her future, Darchelle found herself stuck. She had a dream like everyone else, but being a first generation student, she needed extra guidance to reach her goals. In her junior year of high school, Darchelle found this help through the Real World Learning Model College and Career Prep program where she received support with filling out financial aid forms, scholarships, and college applications. Champions For Learning received multiple grants from organizations such as the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to support this program.

“The program really helped me. When I had a question about a form the Champions For Learning staff were there to help,” says Darchelle. “If I didn’t have this program I would’ve really struggled.”

Receiving support from others inspired Darchelle to pay it forward by becoming a part of a mentoring program called “The Golden Hour.” The program matches Honor Society Juniors and Seniors from Lorenzo Walker to North Naples Middle School students. This program was devised by 2015 Golden Apple recipient, Ed Laudise, through his Golden Apple grant funded by Suncoast Credit Union Foundation.

“It was such a great experience mentoring my 6th grade students,” says Darchelle. “My student had potential, but didn’t know how to use it. In 3 weeks he made a complete turnaround. He would come in with his homework done. His grades went up. I honestly saw a big change.”

Darchelle has embedded her roots deep into Collier County, but moving away to the University of Florida doesn’t shake her up.

“I’m ready to take the next step,” she says with an excited smile. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time.”

 

This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

 

 

 

 

Schulze Family Foundation funds iWill Mentorship Foundation  as part of FutureMakers Coalition

Schulze Family Foundation funds iWill Mentorship Foundation as part of FutureMakers Coalition

Trailer enables mentoring through community bike repair clinics and rides in Dunbar, bringing together law enforcement, community and at-risk youth to build mutual respect and understanding

As part of its $300,000 grant to the FutureMakers Coalition, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation has funded $5,890 to the iWill Mentorship Foundation, a FutureMakers Coalition partner, for the purchase of an industrial trailer for transportation of youth bikes for neighborhood bike rides and bike repair clinics within the Fort Myers’ communities with at-risk youth.

IWMF is teaming up with the Fort Myers Police Department, community youth organizations and local churches to promote prevention of violence and unity of the community.

Under community bike ride and bike repair clinics scheduled throughout the end of the year, IWMF is reconditioning used bicycles for local youth to ride along with the Fort Myers police on bike patrols in their neighborhoods.

“The highly visible but friendly law enforcement presence in at-risk communities provides a healthy atmosphere where youth can spend evening hours with officers, building positive relationships and respect,” said Jesse Bryson, president of IWMF.

According to Bryson, the trailer was an essential piece to IWMF’s plan so that it can secure the bicycles and easily transport them to the neighborhoods, helping to better engage with the youth.

During the clinics, teens will work alongside mentors, learning how to recondition the used bikes as well as be exposed to several career opportunities. Unbeknownst to the teens, at the end of the program, the repaired bikes will be given as gifts to those youth in need.

“This trailer donation was an easy decision for us,” said Mary Beth Geier, Florida region coordinator of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. “It’s not about the trailer but about what the trailer does – it helps this group of mentors get to work impacting the neighborhoods and communities they wish to serve.”

The iWill Mentorship is working in the Dunbar community to build skills, aspirations, community trust and engagement among the youth residing there in hopes of connecting the them with mentors and law enforcement who will provide STEM skills and career exposure, according to Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition.

“This is grassroots FutureMakers work at its very finest,” LeSage said of the iWill Mentorship Foundation. “These FutureMakers partners saw the need and found a creative and effective way to fill it with high hopes of changing lives, reducing crime and establishing an opportunity to meet shared goals in their neighborhoods.”

LeSage said the program hopes additional parties will contribute to the effort by volunteering to assist with bike repairs, participating in ride or becoming a sponsor.

“One-thousand dollars will sponsor bikes for 10 youth, and $3,000 will sponsor 30 bikes,” added Bryson.

Upcoming bike repair clinics are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20 and Dec. 10. All clinics will take place at Fort Myers Schwinn Cyclery, located at 3630 S. Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers.

All community bike rides will take place on Wednesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. Upcoming rides are scheduled for May 25 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located 3105 Broadway in Fort Myers; Aug. 24 at Rosa De Saron Assembly of God, located at 13235 Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers; and Dec. 14 at Good News Baptist Church of Pine Manor, located at 1650 Oak Drive in Fort Myers.

Last fall, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation granted the FutureMakers Coalition $300,000. The grant, which is payable during the next three years, will help fund emerging programs and projects like iWill developed by the Coalition’s Regional Action Teams focused on the FutureMakers’ goal of increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.

The Schulze Family Foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze, a Southwest Florida resident. It supports education, human services, health and medical research, and transformational entrepreneurship.

The FutureMakers Coalition is one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment. Residents are encouraged to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected].

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Glades Education Foundation receives $15,000 grant

Glades Education Foundation receives $15,000 grant

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 2, 2016) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, a FutureMakers Coalition partner along with Lumina Foundation, has awarded the Glades Education Foundation a $15,000 grant.

The grant will be used to support the Glades Education Foundation’s AVID About Success mentoring program to increase the number of students receiving mentoring and skill advancement for academic success.

AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a research-based program that brings strategies and curriculum to classrooms to prepare students, grades 6 through 12, for success in middle and high school.

According to Glades Education Foundation’s Executive Director Laura Perry, the foundation plans to establish the program in grades 7 through 9 in the initial startup year at Moore Haven Middle-Senior High School and grades 6 through 8 in West Glades School, while Pemayetv Emahakv Charter Middle School will be a planning site.

“We expect to see improved enrollment in school mentoring programs within Glades County middle and high schools resulting in improved teacher-student relationships, peer support, increased knowledge of personal achievement strategies, increased knowledge of important study and test-taking skills, and increased inquiry and communication skills,” said Perry. “We also hope to see an increase in the number of first-generation students matched with mentors.”
Perry added that the goal is to see an increase in the number of middle school student enrollment in advanced coursework such as algebra I honors, geometry honors and biology I honors as well as honors and dual enrollment classes at the high school level.

“We expect students will continue in the AVID program through 12th grade and be accepted into a college, university or career academy,” she said.
AVID students will also learn how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as other scholarship and financial aid applications, resulting in an increased number of FAFSA completions.

The mission of AVID is for students to be focused on post-secondary education.

Glades Education Foundation grant April 2016

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the it has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.


About FutureMakers Coalition

The FutureMakers Coalition is working to increase post-secondary certification completion in Southwest Florida and promote the knowledge and skills needed for success in the workplace and in life. Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the Coalition’s goal is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 percent to 40 percent by 2025 throughout Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

As one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment, the FutureMakers Coalition is a regional partnership involving education, government, business, nonprofit and citizen stakeholders, and advocates committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners. The Lumina Foundation is an independent private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition’s collective effort encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. It is looking for partners from all sectors to invest resources, including time, expertise, funding and more. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected].

CAUSE & EFFECT – We Have Liftoff!

CAUSE & EFFECT – We Have Liftoff!

I grew up in Central Florida, which provided me access to Mickey Mouse, beautiful lakes, fresh oranges on demand and space shuttles.

One of my favorite memories is going to Cape Canaveral for NASA rocket and shuttle launches. I was always amazed that I could witness in person what others could only experience through a media outlet.

Being at the Cape meant you not only saw the launch- you also felt it in every fiber of your body. Of course I didn’t make it to every shuttle launch but the next best thing was watching the countdown on television and hearing the words “we have liftoff” from mission control and then running out the front door and gazing up to see the wonder of the rockets in the sky above.

But nothing beat the rumbling that could be felt on site. It just signaled that something really big was about to happen and it gave you the chance to prepare.
The ground would literally shake under my feet just before the space vessels cleared the launch pad with the greatest force I had ever experienced. I always wished I could grab on to the rocket and go along for the ride.

Over the last year at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I feel as if the ground beneath our feet has been rumbling. No, the Foundation is not hatching a space program but we have been launching or serving as the backbone organization for a number of regional initiatives. One such movement is the FutureMakers Coalition.

Just like any big project there is a great deal of process, preparation and hard work before you ever get to the launching pad. A year ago we invited community partners who had been working alongside us to the kick off rally for the FutureMakers Coalition, a regional effort to transform the Southwest Florida workforce through increasing the number of working age adults with high quality certifications and degrees from 27% to 40% by 2025. In simpler terms we are working together to help Southwest Floridians get ready for college, get in college, get done with college and get connected with a career. Remember college includes our technical institutions as well. At the rally we were rolling this idea out to the launch pad and announcing the strategies that would ignite the engines.

The last 12 months have welcomed over 161 partners to the FutureMakers Coalition who have worked tirelessly to ready us for the next frontier of the initiative- working together across county lines to reach our goal. This commitment to work collectively instead of in silos seemed to intensify the rumbling and we all knew something big was happening.

Together the FutureMakers Coalition made up of partners from education, business, government and philanthropy in five counties has:

– Gathered students from all five counties for a student summit to provide guiding input to the Coalition on what barriers and opportunities exist in obtaining high quality certifications and degrees.

-Partnered with Career Source of Southwest Florida, Lee Memorial Health System, local technical colleges and scholarship donors to create a training and education pipeline to fill an immediate workforce demand that is creating a pathway out of poverty for participants.

-Identified the tracking and benchmarking that will let us know if we are making progress toward our 40% goal- remember the goal represents a strong workforce and careers for our residents and we must know if we are making a difference.

-Examined local scholarship opportunities and put processes in place to track what happens to students who receive funding- are they graduating and moving on to careers?

-Tailored the work of the Coalition to assist in starting, retaining and expanding a significant engine of our regional economy: small businesses

-Enhanced mentoring programs across the region with significant progress in previously underserved communities

-Rapid cycle testing the activities that are already working so we can replicate and scale- we understand that there is no reason to reinvent the wheel or start new programs

– Connected our local partners to national resources for support and expertise through our cohort relationship with Lumina Foundation

-Learned the perception of technical colleges is changing and we are harnessing that momentum to point people to rewarding careers in Southwest Florida

And, we just completed setting regional outcomes that will guide our work together. We are all heading in the same direction while maintaining what works best in each county and program.

In other words we have lift-off.

But there are many more launches in our future, I am already starting to feel the rumbling again. Please visit futuremakerscoalition.com and be part of the journey.

About the SWFL Community Foundation – Celebrating 40 Years of Philanthropy
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

The Future is Bright

The Future is Bright

by Sarah Owen, a FutureMaker and President & CEO
SWFL Community Foundation

For months our offices at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation have been buzzing with preparation for a regional student summit designed to bring high school students from all five Southwest Florida counties to the table to discuss challenges and opportunities they face in planning their next steps out of high school.

The Foundation is the anchor organization for our region’s FutureMakers Coalition, which is working collectively to transform the workforce through increasing the number of college degrees and certifications attained in our region. As you can imagine talking to students is a critical part of that work.

A student summit was not the brainchild of the Community Foundation or any of the organizations in the Coalition but like many brilliant ideas it came from the students themselves. A group of over 100 Charlotte County students aptly named CCVolt who came together two years ago to provide a voice to students in the Charlotte school district provided a great model.

When we learned of their efforts we reached out and asked them to share the concept with FutureMakers partners in other counties. Idea sharing is a big part of the strength of the Coalition and some of our partners picked it up.

Students and organizations that support them know how to rally a movement and get things accomplished and summits in Lee, Collier, Hendry and Glades took shape. The FutureMakers Coalition is a regional effort so the idea of a bigger summit made sense. But it was ultimately up to the students’ willingness to participate.

We were thrilled they said yes and we began the planning. We figured if they were willing to bring their brainpower, experience and expertise on being a student, then we could supply the pizza, group facilitators, a video diary booth, and the tools to help collect their ideas.

Another FutureMakers Coalition partner Hodges University provided the venue, Domino’s supplied the pizza, Promotional Incentives brought the swag, and Rocket Lounge and Hyper Team sponsored the t-shirts. Additionally, local artists gave their time and talent to illustrate the students’ discussions and education foundations and school systems offered valuable support. This is what I love about working collectively- everyone has something to offer to reach a common goal.

The theme of the regional summit was The Future is Bright and time spent with the students revealed that along with bright spots there are also challenges with moving on to post secondary opportunities. Students weighed in on trends discovered at the county level and shared their experiences.

Many times we think the barriers to college are strictly financial and of course that is a factor, but students also shared challenges related to stress, making a career choice and the early start times at the high schools.

Our Foundation team will now examine the data and dialogue and identify regional trends that will be shared with the Coalition and the community and this will help shape our work.

The best news is the students have agreed to stay involved and most who attended signed up to be part of the student leadership team for the FutureMakers Coalition, which will keep their voices and ideas at the table.

Talking helps them as well. A mom of one of the students shared that her daughter left the summit fired up about the future and felt like discussing the topics helped refocus her on the possibilities for the future.

When we help support students in creating their future we create a brighter future for our region.

Keep an eye on the FutureMakers Coalition website www.futuremakerscoalition.com for results of the summit and video clips that highlight these important voices in our region.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Annual Report now available

Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Annual Report now available

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s 2014-2015 Annual Report is now available online at www.floridacommunity.com/annual-report.

“2015 was a year of major milestones in the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s work as active change-makers,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The Community Foundation’s total assets of $93.5 million increased 13 percent from the previous fiscal year while investments rose 14 percent. The increases are a result of new funds, additional contributions and investment returns.

Since its inception 39 years ago, the Community Foundation has received $110 million in contributions and distributed $63 million in direct support to the community.

Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It also granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants, including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and an additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

“Our flexibility, combined with a comprehensive understanding of community needs, attracted more than 150 new contributions and donors during the 2015 fiscal year – people committed to getting things started now while envisioning future needs,” said Immediate Past Board Chairman Joe Mazurkiewicz.

Highlights from the past year include the FutureMakers Coalition launch in March with the backing of Lumina Foundation to improve the quality of Southwest Florida’s workforce. The Community Foundation is engaging local business and education leaders, government officials, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue and cradle-to-career strategies to achieve this goal.

A collaborative effort with the Lee County Board of Commissioners resulted in transferring the CompleteLee community sustainability plan to the Community Foundation in 2015. Over time, the infrastructure established during the four-year planning process, along with more than 80 organizations and hundreds of individual stakeholders, will lead to a regional map that guides the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring a high quality of life and change for the common good through an established collective impact model.

“The components of the plan address Community Foundation causes and the nationally recognized pillars of community sustainability,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability at the Community Foundation. “The plan provides measurable outcomes to show the Foundation and our partners how we are making an impact in the areas that lead to the long-term success and desirability of a community. Ultimately, it makes our region a better place to live, work, play and learn.”

The Community Foundation also welcomed its first Florida Fellows from the University of Florida in the summer thanks to the Al and Nancy Burnett Charitable Foundation. The four public interest communications students worked in three local nonprofits that received grants from the Community Foundation. They helped the nonprofits enhance communication and effective storytelling.

The Community Foundation also partnered with the city of Fort Myers to identify opportunities to create greater efficiencies among some of its nonprofit organizations, with a focus on the Imaginarium and the Southwest Florida Museum of History. The yearlong effort allowed the Foundation to contribute to developing plans aimed at establishing a state-of-the-art regional science and history museum and a merged board of directors that would better serve the two organizations and support many of the city’s larger strategic goals. This public-private partnership will improve taxpayers’ return on investment and potentially serve as a catalyst for redevelopment along the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard corridor.

“The Southwest Florida Community Foundation offers customized giving, dedicated to helping every donor find the right opportunity for them, whether it’s a one-time contribution or an endowment that lives on in perpetuity, a family fund or foundation dedicated to a specific cause, or jumpstarting a new idea to fill a community need,” added Owen.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs.

Copies of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s IRS Form 990, IRS Form 990-T, if required, and the current annual audit are available for your review online at www.floridacommunity.com or at its main office by calling 239-274-5900, ext. 228.

FutureMakers and WorkForce Now to merge – News-Press Media Group initiative to join forces with regional coalition to transform the workforce by increasing Southwest Florida’s higher education completion to 40 percent by 2025

FutureMakers and WorkForce Now to merge – News-Press Media Group initiative to join forces with regional coalition to transform the workforce by increasing Southwest Florida’s higher education completion to 40 percent by 2025

Michael Jung, president and publisher of the News-Press Media Group announced today that WorkForce Now, an initiative created as a result of the Education Summits produced by his organization, would join the FutureMakers Coalition.

WorkForce Now is a five-county regional research initiative conducted by Florida SouthWestern State College, Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University to provide in-kind support and information on regional workforce gaps, skills and characteristics to both educators and the public. Each of these educational institutions is also a part of the FutureMakers Coalition.

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications to 40 percent by the year 2025.

“It just makes sense that these two be aligned because the in-kind support WorkForce Now is providing also supports the goal of the FutureMakers Coalition and the various stakeholders across the region,” said Jung. “Increasing our higher-education completion will also increase the skills of our workforce to meet the growing needs of our community.”
WorkForce Now was established in 2013 following the News-Press’s Education Summit in order to start identifying the depth of our local workforce.
Dr. John Meyer, dean of the School of Business and Technology at Florida SouthWestern State College, is an active researcher and author on the WorkForce Now project.

“The quality of our regional workforce is a primary competitive factor in our growth and economic development,” Dr. Meyer said. “We have developed groundbreaking research, and it has been successful in our region and at FSW.”

WorkForce Now deeply studies industries or sectors each year to provide a continuous stream of information from employers to educational institutions, and looks for ways to create dialogue and new partnerships between businesses and educational institutions. To date, WorkForce Now has produced six research papers with findings used in additional WorkForce Now summits. The research includes findings on regional workforce needs, job and employer needs, and education systems.
Under the new arrangement, the FutureMakers Coalition will partner with WorkForce Now as a part of the initiative by providing administrative support, and help to collect data and guide additional research.

“The beauty of this ‘merger’ is that this is work that was already happening, and it’s now being aligned with a larger regional initiative,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “The FutureMakers Coalition’s focus is to align all of the work that’s being done by other organizations and partners in the ‘cradle-to-career’ system at a regional level, and the results of these collaborations will enhance the region’s educational and economic success.”

The FutureMakers Coalition was born out of a two-year regional initiative focused on increasing the number of high-school seniors in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Responding to the Florida College Access Network’s 2012 report that more than $100 million in Pell Grants went unclaimed by Florida students, the initial effort involved a team of more than a dozen stakeholders who invested in high-school seniors through one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops and support, and career coaching.

Within a year and with the recommendation of FCAN and Helios, the work of the inaugural FutureMakers program was recognized by Lumina Foundation, an independent private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. The FutureMakers Coalition benefits from Lumina’s collaborative approach that connects Southwest Florida to renowned national thought-leadership organizations and provides technical and planning assistance, data tools and flexible funding as attainment plans are customized.

About FutureMakers Coalition
The FutureMakers Coalition is working to increase post-secondary certification completion in Southwest Florida and promote the knowledge and skills needed for success in the workplace and in life. Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the Coalition’s goal is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 percent to 40 percent by 2025 throughout Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

As one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment, the FutureMakers Coalition is a regional partnership involving education, government, business, nonprofit and citizen stakeholders, and advocates committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition’s collective effort encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. They are looking for partners from all sectors to invest resources, including time, expertise, funding and more. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected]

FutureMakers receives $300,000 from Schulze Family Foundation

FutureMakers receives $300,000 from Schulze Family Foundation

Goal to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 to 40 percent by 2025

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 28, 2015) – The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation recently granted the FutureMakers Coalition $300,000.

The grant, which is payable during the next three years, will help fund programs and projects developed by the Coalition’s Regional Action Teams focused on the FutureMakers’ goal of increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.

“It resonates throughout the region when big organizations work together for the greater good,” said Mary Beth Geier, Florida region coordinator of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. “The work FutureMakers is doing really falls in line with what we want to do, and we love the collaborative aspect of this effort.”

The Schulze Family Foundation was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze, a Southwest Florida resident. It supports education, human services, health and medical research, and transformational entrepreneurship.

“This generous funding put forth by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation will power the ideas generated by experts and go directly to support the programs identified through the Coalition’s Regional Action Teams to address identified needs to boost our region’s workforce through skills training and educational initiatives,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition.

The FutureMakers Coalition was born out of a two-year regional initiative focused on increasing the number of high-school seniors in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Responding to the Florida College Access Network’s 2012 report that more than $100 million in Pell Grants went unclaimed by Florida students, the initial effort involved a team of more than a dozen stakeholders who invested in high-school seniors through one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops and support, and career coaching.

Within a year and with the recommendation of FCAN and Helios, the work of the inaugural FutureMakers program was recognized by Lumina Foundation, an independent private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. The FutureMakers Coalition benefits from Lumina’s collaborative approach that connects Southwest Florida to renowned national thought-leadership organizations and provides technical and planning assistance, data tools and flexible funding as attainment plans are customized.

About FutureMakers Coalition
The FutureMakers Coalition is working to increase post-secondary certification completion in Southwest Florida and promote the knowledge and skills needed for success in the workplace and in life. Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the Coalition’s goal is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications from 27 percent to 40 percent by 2025 throughout Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

As one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment, the FutureMakers Coalition is a regional partnership involving education, government, business, nonprofit and citizen stakeholders, and advocates committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition’s collective effort encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. It is looking for partners from all sectors to invest resources, including time, expertise, funding and more. For more information, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected].

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