01 May FutureMakers Coalition: Career Pipelines for Healthcare
by Lisa Wright, MSN, RN, Health Occupations Coordinator, School District of Lee County
A 27 year-old-mother brings proof of residency and her official GED transcript to the offices of Fort Myers Technical College (FMTC) with the hopes of obtaining an education that will permit her to enter the health care workforce. Her eyes well with tears as she learns of the financial burden that enrollment to a program would create. The finance advisor listened to the barriers impacting the potential student and kindly replied, “We can help you!”
Financial barriers like this are a common challenge for individuals trying to get the training they need to start careers and create a better life for their families. But changing lives isn’t the only goal. Regional employers struggle to fill vacancies for critical needs positions within the health care workforce. The combination creates gaps for both educational and workforce entities. Such reality sparked collaboration between the Futuremaker’s Coalition which engaged educational, workforce and philanthropic partners to become game changers in assisting students obtain education beyond high school.
The partnership targeted the critical needs positions of Certified Nursing Assistant and Certified Medical Assistant. Partners collectively identified and started to address barriers impeding progress. It was determined that the group needed to provide gap funding for program fees, increase participation of workforce and educational partners and provide foundational employability skills instruction.
The group implemented several strategies to curtail challenges. To address gap funding, grant applications were submitted and ultimately awarded by Bank of America, the Schulze Family Foundation and most recently, the Women’s Legacy Fund awarded a three-year partnership funding program worth up to $90,000. Informational sessions are held for the purposes of marketing and recruiting. Potential students are provided admissions screenings and initial contact with employers’ guarantying interviews upon program completion. New educational and workforce partners are frequently engaged and invited to participate and students are offered free courses which provide training for foundational skills, resume writing and mock interviewing.
As barriers were removed and partners aligned with common goals, attainment of filling employment gaps and vacant student seats were realized. Student enrollment increased, student certification increased and job placement increased. Currently, 389 students have enrolled, 313 students have completed and 250 students have been placed in very high demand jobs! Peak job placement from this program filled 80% of vacant CNA positions. This is the evidence that system alignment works and has led to identifying the project as best practice related to transforming the workforce in Southwest Florida.
The Futuremaker’s Coalition has future plans to expand program offerings, obtain additional funding resources, continue to build educational and workforce partnerships and hold recognition events to highlight the success of end outcomes.
The 27 year-old mother became a student participant in this initiative. She went on to successfully complete her program, become certified and is currently filling a very high demand job identified as a critical needs shortage position. She is a FutureMaker, a game changer. She affects your health care, the healthcare of our community. Please share to promote the potential of post-secondary education and gainful employment within our local health care workforce. We need you!
The School District of Lee County is a FutureMakers Coalition Partner and a grantee of the Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.