Monthly Archives

October 2016

NEWS-PRESS: Listen up: Program to help job seekers who lack skills

By | News

Some people call them foundational skills. Others call them soft skills.

These skills include listening, critical thinking and holding a professional conversation as well as working effectively in a team, valuing a strong work ethic and building relationships.

Whatever you call these skills, career experts and employers say they are lacking in many of today’s job applicants

These skills are so important that a team from the FutureMakers Coalition, which strives to transform the region’s workforce, is working to develop a curriculum to strengthen them.

The intent is to pilot a program with college students at Florida SouthWestern State College, then roll it out to others.

To make this happen, it has opened a request for proposals, which the team will evaluate.

The program seeks to increase the skills and employability of the region’s high school and college students, as well as the existing workforce. At the same time, it wants to encourage employers to value students through an improved assessment of their skills.

“In addition to the classroom instruction on foundational skills, an employer pool will be created,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for the FutureMakers Coalition. “The employer pool will participate in interview workshops.”…

Click here to read more

PUBLIC NOW: Regional Campaign Launches To Educate High School Seniors About FAFSA And Financial Aid

By | News

FutureMakers Coalition partners, including educators, workforce developers, business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, residents and students across Southwest Florida have joined together and their parents in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties about FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Spearheaded by the Access & Entry team of the FutureMakers Coalition, the goal of the campaign is to increase the FAFSA completion rate among Southwest Florida high school seniors by 5 percent this school year.

To supplement schools’ current FAFSA outreach efforts, a campaign marketing toolkit has been created to provide informational handouts and materials about the FAFSA and why it is important for students and parents to file. In addition, schools will be sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters, text messages and other communication channels. The campaign will also be rolled out through a robust social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Geo-targeted online advertising via Google and Facebook will further boost the campaign’s reach with students and parents.

Each year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study and loans) for college and career school. To apply for this aid, every high school senior who plans to attend college or career school must complete the FAFSA. State governments and many colleges, career schools and private organizations also use FAFSA information to determine additional financial aid awards.

Click here to read more

BONITA SPRINGS AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Regional campaign launches to educate high school seniors about FAFSA and financial aid

By | News

FutureMakers Coalition partners, including educators, workforce developers, business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, residents and students across Southwest Florida have joined together and their parents in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties about FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Spearheaded by the Access & Entry team of the FutureMakers Coalition, the goal of the campaign is to increase the FAFSA completion rate among Southwest Florida high school seniors by 5 percent this school year.

To supplement schools’ current FAFSA outreach efforts, a campaign marketing toolkit has been created to provide informational handouts and materials about the FAFSA and why it is important for students and parents to file. In addition, schools will be sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters, text messages and other communication channels. The campaign will also be rolled out through a robust social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Geo-targeted online advertising via Google and Facebook will further boost the campaign’s reach with students and parents.

Click here to Read More

NEAPOLITAN FAMILY: Regional Campaign Launches to Educate High School Seniors and their Parents about FAFSA and Financial Aid for College

By | News

FutureMakers Coalition partners, including educators, workforce developers, business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, residents and students across Southwest Florida have joined together to launch a new educational campaign, called “FAFSA first!,” aimed at informing high school seniors and their parents in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties about FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Spearheaded by the Access & Entry team of the FutureMakers Coalition, the goal of the campaign is to increase the FAFSA completion rate among Southwest Florida high school seniors by 5 percent this school year.

To supplement schools’ current FAFSA outreach efforts, a campaign marketing toolkit has been created to provide informational handouts and materials about the FAFSA and why it is important for students and parents to file. In addition, schools will be sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters, text messages and other communication channels. The campaign will also be rolled out through a robust social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Geo-targeted online advertising via Google and Facebook will further boost the campaign’s reach with students and parents.

Each year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study and loans) for college and career school. To apply for this aid, every high school senior who plans to attend college or career school must complete the FAFSA. State governments and many colleges, career schools and private organizations also use FAFSA information to determine additional financial aid awards.

“In order to accomplish the goal of transforming Southwest Florida’s workforce, FutureMakers Coalition partners are collaborating to improve access to post-secondary education by increasing the number of students filling out the FAFSA,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which is serving as the backbone organization for the FutureMakers Coalition. “Research shows FAFSA completion rates correlate with the percentage of workforce who holds degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials.”

According to Florida College Access Network, the Southwest Florida FAFSA completion rate is currently 35.3 percent. As a result, millions of dollars in financial aid are unclaimed by eligible Southwest Florida high school seniors each year. In 2013, FCAN estimated graduating high school seniors in this region left behind more than $9 million in Pell Grant funds that they were eligible to receive. FCAN’s research has also shown that students who were accepted into four-year colleges were much more likely to enroll if they had completed the FAFSA.

There are two new changes to the FAFSA process that affect the 2017-2018 school year: the FAFSA is now available to be filed on Oct. 1, three months earlier than in past years, and last year’s filed income tax information should be used to complete the form.

Previously, FAFSA was not available until Jan. 1 for filing and it required income tax information for the most recent tax year, even though that often meant students’ and parents’ actual tax returns hadn’t yet been filed with the IRS. By filing the FAFSA earlier and using accurate income tax information that is already available, students and parents will benefit by receiving financial aid award offers from schools sooner and can make informed decisions about college or career school affordability.

“Ultimately, we want to create a culture of awareness and completion for FAFSA in our region, where students and parents know that the first step they need to take toward earning a degree or certificate is completing the FAFSA,” said LeSage. “For many students, receiving financial aid can be the deciding factor of where, or even if, they attend college or career school. We want to help them take advantage of the resources that are available to them to pursue postsecondary education.”

Visit www.FAFSAfirst.org to learn more about the campaign, and for information and resources about FAFSA.

http://neafamily.com/your-family/education/regional-campaign-launches-to-educate-high-school-seniors-an/#.V_fE4-ArKUk

NEWS-PRESS: Financial aid doesn’t come, if you don’t file an application

By | News

Read here: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/10/03/financial-aid-doesnt-come-if-you-dont-file-application/91478466/
By , [email protected]9:28 a.m. EDT October 4, 2016

“Show me the money!” sounds way more enticing than, “Apply for financial aid.”

While financial aid may not be a page-turning topic, it should be a top-of-mind subject if you’re in high school or college, or the parent of such a student.

That’s because students in Southwest Florida leave millions of federal dollars on the table each year because they fail to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.

Even if you have helped a student fill out the application in years past, it’s important to note two big changes to the financial aid process that affect the 2017-18 school year and beyond.

The changes: the FAFSA application was available for filing Saturday, three months earlier than in past years, and last year’s filed income tax information should be used to complete the form.

The application was previously not available until Jan. 1 for filing and it required income tax information for the most recent tax year, even though that often meant students’ and parents’ tax returns hadn’t yet been filed with the IRS.

By filing the application earlier and using income tax information that is already available, students and parents will benefit by receiving financial aid award offers from schools sooner and can make informed decisions about college or career school affordability.

These are the messages of a new FutureMakers Coalition educational campaign called “FAFSA first!” Coalition partners include educators, business leaders, government officials and others across the region.

FutureMakers aims to transform the workforce by increasing the number of people with college degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials from 27 to 40 percent by 2025 throughout the five-county area.

In this case, the goal is to increase the application completion rate among high school seniors in the region by 5 percent this school year.

fafsafist headerFAFSA and beyond

Trevon Davis’ story illustrates the point. He has already defied society’s expectations, and he’s just getting warmed up.

Davis, who grew up in a tough part of Fort Myers, expects to earn a bachelor’s degree from Florida SouthWestern State College next spring.

The 23-year-old already has a contingency contract with the Lee County school district, meaning he’s guaranteed a job upon graduation that should pay him about $40,000 annually.

“School has always been my happy place,” he said of his decision to enter the teaching ranks. “Teachers have made the biggest impact on my life.”

The 2011 Dunbar High School graduate has walked a rocky path in his college journey. He started out working full time and attending college full time, which he said wasn’t easy. He has worked multiple part-time jobs and gone to school part time in spurts since, even taking a semester off in 2013.

In a sense, his path toward higher education started by filling out a loan application.

Davis recalled first filling it out during his senior year of high school. He attended workshops and worked with representatives who helped him with the application.

“They really pushed it there,” he said of Dunbar High School.

It takes a village

Tessa LeSage works for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for the FutureMakers Coalition.

“Research shows FAFSA completion rates correlate with the percentage of workforce who holds degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials,” she said.

This campaign, an effort to supplement schools’ FAFSA outreach efforts, includes handouts on why it is important to file and promotion on social media. Schools are sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters and text messages.

Each year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study and loans) for college and career schools. To apply, every senior who plans to attend college or career school must complete an application. State governments and many colleges, career schools and private organizations also use the information to determine additional financial aid awards.

Southwest Florida’s financial aid application completion rate is 35.3 percent, according to the Florida College Access Network. In 2013, the network estimated graduating high school seniors in this region left behind over $9 million in Pell Grant funds they were eligible to receive.

“Ultimately, we want to create a culture of awareness and completion for FAFSA in our region, where students and parents know that the first step they need to take toward earning a degree or certificate is completing the FAFSA,” LeSage said. “For many students, receiving financial aid can be the deciding factor of where, or even if, they attend college or career school.”

The coalition aims to change the culture, making it a community responsibility to get the word out. That effort connects to a long-term goal of bolstering the workforce.

“We’re all going to own it and take it on as a region.,” LeSage said. “This could create a huge opportunity for Southwest Florida.”

Kristi Bartlett, vice president of economic development for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, has been working on behalf of FutureMakers and an initiative called Future Ready Collier.

“As a chamber, we’re reaching out to the employers and the business community,” she said. “We would like more students to increase FAFSA because it greatly increases their enrollment in colleges and technical colleges. We need the training pipeline.”

Lori Brooks, assistant director of school counseling services for the Lee County school district, said the district started getting word out about the application changes last spring.

“It was a very short turnaround time for students and parents due to the deadlines,” she said of the previous system. “It really created quite a bit of pressure for families.”

Brooks said the FutureMakers initiative to trumpet FAFSA completion “really makes it a team effort.”

The district this month will host financial-aid nights at four schools to highlight FAFSA.

The district is taking advantage of a data-sharing agreement between the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Student Financial Assistance and FAFSA that allows high schools to access the list of students at each school who have completed it, or where they are in the process if they have not.

A bright future

Early on, Davis didn’t give his studies the attention they demanded, and he ended up on academic probation.

It wasn’t until he settled on becoming a teacher that he regained focus.

Today, he is president of the FSW chapter of Kappa Delta Epsilon, an honorary educational fraternity. He is interning as a teacher at Diplomat Middle School in Cape Coral and works as a substitute teacher.

Davis expects to start teaching language arts in less than a year.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I love the fact that I’ve been able to work for the school district, be in classrooms and get experience.”

And while it has been tough, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I really acknowledge failure,” he said. “I like that there have been some obstacles, because I think that’s the best way to learn. I’m really glad that I persisted.”

Connect with this reporter: email [email protected] and follow on Twitter @caseylo

Learn more

Visit FAFSAfirst.org to learn more about the campaign.

Financial aid nights hosted by the Lee County school district:

  • Tuesday, Oct 11: West Zone at Cape Coral High School
  • Thursday, Oct. 13: East/South Zones at Dunbar High School
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18: South Zone at South Fort Myers High School
  • Thursday, Oct. 20: East Zone at Lehigh Senior High School

Note: All begin at 6 p.m.

Click here to download

Regional campaign launches to educate high school seniors about FAFSA and financial aid

By | Press Releases

Important new changes to FAFSA process makes filing earlier easier

FutureMakers Coalition partners, including educators, workforce developers, business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, residents and students across Southwest Florida have joined together to launch a new educational campaign, called “FAFSA first!,” aimed at informing high school seniors and their parents in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties about FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Spearheaded by the Access & Entry team of the FutureMakers Coalition, the goal of the campaign is to increase the FAFSA completion rate among Southwest Florida high school seniors by 5 percent this school year.

FAF$A_first_logoTo supplement schools’ current FAFSA outreach efforts, a campaign marketing toolkit has been created to provide informational handouts and materials about the FAFSA and why it is important for students and parents to file. In addition, schools will be sharing campaign information via websites, e-newsletters, text messages and other communication channels. The campaign will also be rolled out through a robust social media presence, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Geo-targeted online advertising via Google and Facebook will further boost the campaign’s reach with students and parents.

Each year, the federal government provides more than $150 billion in financial aid (grants, work-study and loans) for college and career school. To apply for this aid, every high school senior who plans to attend college or career school must complete the FAFSA. State governments and many colleges, career schools and private organizations also use FAFSA information to determine additional financial aid awards.

“In order to accomplish the goal of transforming Southwest Florida’s workforce, FutureMakers Coalition partners are collaborating to improve access to post-secondary education by increasing the number of students filling out the FAFSA,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which is serving as the backbone organization for the FutureMakers Coalition. “Research shows FAFSA completion rates correlate with the percentage of workforce who holds degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials.”

According to Florida College Access Network, the Southwest Florida FAFSA completion rate is currently 35.3 percent. As a result, millions of dollars in financial aid are unclaimed by eligible Southwest Florida high school seniors each year. In 2013, FCAN estimated graduating high school seniors in this region left behind more than $9 million in Pell Grant funds that they were eligible to receive. FCAN’s research has also shown that students who were accepted into four-year colleges were much more likely to enroll if they had completed the FAFSA.

There are two new changes to the FAFSA process that affect the 2017-2018 school year: the FAFSA is now available to be filed on Oct. 1, three months earlier than in past years, and last year’s filed income tax information should be used to complete the form.

Previously, FAFSA was not available until Jan. 1 for filing and it required income tax information for the most recent tax year, even though that often meant students’ and parents’ actual tax returns hadn’t yet been filed with the IRS. By filing the FAFSA earlier and using accurate income tax information that is already available, students and parents will benefit by receiving financial aid award offers from schools sooner and can make informed decisions about college or career school affordability.

“Ultimately, we want to create a culture of awareness and completion for FAFSA in our region, where students and parents know that the first step they need to take toward earning a degree or certificate is completing the FAFSA,” said LeSage. “For many students, receiving financial aid can be the deciding factor of where, or even if, they attend college or career school. We want to help them take advantage of the resources that are available to them to pursue postsecondary education.”

Visit www.FAFSAfirst.org to learn more about the campaign, and for information and resources about FAFSA.

About the FutureMakers Coalition
Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the FutureMakers Coalition has a goal to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials from 27 to 40 percent by 2025 throughout Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. The Coalition is committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners. The FutureMakers Coalition is one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment.

FutureMakers opens RFP for foundational skills curriculum for post-secondary institutions

By | Press Releases

Goal to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce

The Persistence and Progress Regional Action Team of the FutureMakers Coalition is working to develop a foundational skill development curriculum to pilot with post-secondary students and will open a request for proposals on Oct. 3, 2016.

The foundational skills project is requesting proposals for the development of a foundational skills curriculum with the goal to increase active listening, critical thinking/problem solving, interpersonal skills, teamwork and work ethic, and to build education and business partnerships. The project is seeking to increase these skills and employability of Southwest Florida’s high-school and post-secondary students and existing workforce while simultaneously encouraging employers to value students through an improved assessment of employment candidate foundational skills.

“Once a proper curriculum has been developed, it will initially be implemented by existing staff at Florida Southwestern State College and later expanded to other partners,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition. “In addition to the classroom instruction on foundational skills, an employer pool will be created. The employer pool will participate in interview workshops to ensure that post-secondary institutions and employers are aligned around foundational skills for employment candidates.”

According to LeSage, the curriculum content should prepare students for employment and career advancement through development of vital foundational skills identified as deficient among Southwest Florida’s workforce. The curriculum should also include a curriculum-based professional development component with turnkey training resources that will allow implementing organizations to build professional capacity.

Proposals will be evaluated by the FutureMakers Coalition Persistence and Progress Team consisting of fair and impartial Southwest Florida Community Foundation staff and consultants, and coalition partners.

Applicants may be either nonprofit or for-profit organizations. The full RFP is available at www.futuremakerscoalition.com/proposals. The deadline for materials is Nov. 1, 2016. For more information, contact Ashley Skalecki, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional initiatives and partnerships coordinator at [email protected].

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.

Southwest Florida is one of 75 metropolitan areas working alongside Lumina Foundation to increase post-secondary attainment nationwide while increasing the number of working age adults with degrees and certifications.

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]