Monthly Archives

November 2015

NAPLES DAILY NEWS: FutureMakers receives $300,000 from Schulze Family Foundation

By | News

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.

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FutureMakers and WorkForce Now to merge

By | Press Releases

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, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected]

Charlotte Sun: Students gather to have their voices heard

By | News

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 12.38.27 PM (2)More than 100 students from Port Charlotte High School, Charlotte High School, The Academy, Lemon Bay High School, and Florida SouthWestern Collegiate High School, participated in the Charlotte County Voice of Local Teens summit on Oct. 28. The youth summit held at Port Charlotte Beach Park gave them an opportunity to tell adults how they could make them feel more engaged. Students said they needed more career-based programs, and more support and encouragement from school staff and parents. Eliminating barriers to post-secondary education is part of the mission of FutureMakers Coalition, its release states.

“The student voice is important to the future of our community, workforce and economy,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the anchor organization for FutureMakers.

Drug Free Charlotte County oversees the summit, which involves the School Board, parks and recreation department employees, policymakers and nonprofits in pre-summit meetings. “Anytime we get to hear what kids think is a good thing,” said Superintendent Steve Dionisio, who attended CCVOLT’s morning session, in the release. “Students are our primary customer and all too often we forget about them. It’s important to ask them their opinions and let them have a voice. It’s always surprising what they come up with.”

CCVOLT was formed to give students a voice after its 2014 survey reported only 19 percent felt adults valued their opinion.

PCHS student wins art and poetry contest

Brandon Pham of Port Charlotte High School recently won the Peace River Seafood’s 2015 Art and Poetry contest. The 10th-grader is part of Hilary Davey’s two-dimensional art class. Peace River Seafood requests art work from local high school students each year which blends literary and visual expression. The inspiration for this year’s art contest was 20th century modernist poet, T.S. Eliot.

Local teachers’ union awards grants to 10 teachers

Charlotte Florida Education Association, the local teachers’ union, recently awarded five mini-grants to public school teachers. The grants assist with the costs of implementing learning initiatives.

The CFEA had a large increase in teacher submissions this year, according to the release. Over $2,000 was requested ranging from materials for specific lessons not available within the school, to student progress monitoring, and school-wide management.

Teachers were allowed to submit their applications individually or collectively for the 2015-16 mini-grants.

Scott Courtney, music teacher, Punta Gorda Middle School, received one of the mini-grants for sheet music.

Other individual grant recipients included Catherine Fedonni, art teacher, Punta Gorda Middle School, for art supplies; Sandy Buehn-Sohl, speech and language, Myakka River Elementary School, to increase vocabulary in grades kindergarten through fifth; and Susan Heneka, all fifth-grade students, Deep Creek Elementary, for thumb drives for science and history fairs for multiple years.

East Elementary’s kindergarten teaching team — Kristine Durning, Jenna Caspian, Susan Theriault, Ashley Pancic, Robyn McQueen, Erin Herndon and Steve Wilkinson — also received a grant for all its classrooms to have materials for active math learning centers.

LBHS teacher wins world language award

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 12.37.54 PM (1)Spanish Teacher Emilio Baradith of Lemon Bay High School recently won the Teacher of Promise Award at the Florida Foreign Language Association conference. The awards celebration was held at the St. Augustine Renaissance World Golf Village Resort.

Teachers are selected for the award based on their potential for success. Past President and former FFLA Teacher of the Year, Linda Markley, helped prepare new teachers for their early years in the profession at the conference. “We were so excited to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of Emilio Baradith at this year’s conference,” Markley said. “Each year I am amazed at the dedication and creativity of our world language teachers in Florida. It’s a privilege and pleasure to honor Emilio Baradith this year.”

PCHS Bands
 Fall Concert 
scheduled soon

Port Charlotte High School Bands presents a fall concert featuring Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in PCHS’ auditorium. Admission is free. Jose Lopez Jr. will be directing the concert.

CCREA holds special meeting

The Charlotte County Retired Educators Association will hold a special meeting on Veterans Day at 10:30 a.m. at Fishermen’s Village to tour the Military Heritage Museum, followed by lunch in one of the village’s restaurants. “This special meeting is our way of honoring the veterans who gave so much for our country,” said spokeswoman Arlene Kincaid of the CCREA. The association promotes fellowship among retired school employees, encourages them to volunteer, and provides future teacher scholarships.

—Compiled by Sommer Brokaw

Port Charlotte High School students Gardy Marcel and Ross Bruglio participated in the Charlotte County Voice of Local Teens summit held on Oct. 28 at Port Charlotte Beach Park.


Port Charlotte High School students Gardy Marcel and Ross Bruglio participated in the Charlotte County Voice of Local Teens summit held on Oct. 28 at Port Charlotte Beach Park.


Students from Crossroads nonprofit home and charter school for foster boys recently recieved certificates of completion in financial responsibility after lessons from SunTrust employees.


Students from Crossroads nonprofit home and charter school for foster boys recently recieved certificates of completion in financial responsibility after lessons from SunTrust employees.

Charlotte Sun: Council’s mission is still vital

By | News

When Charlotte County commissioners voted recently to kill off the Children’s Services Council, there was really no alternative — despite the need for a champion for the county’s young people. The council, filled with appointed volunteers, was put together about 14 years ago with a charge to report to the County Commission on children’s issues in the county. The responsibilities were both broad and slightly obscure, but that was just one problem.

When the Florida Legislature passed the Juvenile Welfare Services Act it gave each county the opportunity to pass a referendum to fund a special board to look after children’s welfare through research and contact with young people. Charlotte County’s attempt to pass a referendum to fund the council failed in 1992. So, the council was always broke.

“We had no real money to work with,” said Rich Simpson, a local attorney who was chairman of the council. “I think we have something like $375 in our treasury right now.”

Children’s councils in other counties, like Broward, have had greater success. But Charlotte’s 10-member council was never able to accomplish much because of the lack of funds. What began as a group that met once a month, ended up a council that met quarterly. And, according to Simpson, he couldn’t remember “the last time” the council’s annual report was actually completed.

Charlotte County, realizing the referendum did not pass, argued that the council was not properly formed. A resolution to dissolve it was the logical, albeit sad, step to take.

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