Monthly Archives

June 2017

Foundational skills training launched by Hodges University

By | News, Press Releases

The FutureMakers Coalition’s Persistence and Progress Regional Action Team announces the development of a pilot project to address foundational skills, or soft skills, that were identified by local employers as barriers to hiring from the local workforce.  

After unsuccessful attempts to find examples of programs elsewhere that seem to be dealing with this national problem effectively, the team decided to develop its own project based on what the employment partners are communicating they need and the type of training that is missing from the education system in Southwest Florida.

Several exciting tactics are being developed by the cross-sector team, which includes several large employers.  

“The professional effectiveness certificate is a competency-based program and designed with major employers’ input, including Chico’s FAS, Lee Health, Arthrex as well as CareerSource Southwest Florida,” said Dr. Aysegul Timur, dean of the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University. “The curriculum will prepare individuals for the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. The FutureMakers Coalition made the connection possible, aligning the business community, educational needs, workforce development and the funding needed to respond to the need much faster.”

Hodges University has been working with the team to design a badge program that will allow students to get their feet wet in a higher education setting (possibly sparking interest in pursuing additional education), receive referrals from employers who want to see some additional professional development in an existing or potential employee, and to allow students already pursuing a degree or certificate to access needed training around the most needed foundational skills.  

“This is an extremely important initiative. It will help to address a key training need that employers, Workforce Now, FutureMakers and others have identified as impacting most economic sectors across our region,” said Dr. John Meyer, executive vice president of academic affairs for Hodges University. “I am thrilled that Hodges University and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation have been able to work together with employers to help bring this desperately needed certificate program to employees and potential employees across the region.” 

The goal of FutureMakers is to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the number of college degrees, certificates or other high-quality credentials from 37 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

The Coalition is made up of regional partners in the areas of education, government, business, nonprofit, citizen stakeholders and advocates committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners.

“Hodges University is Southwest Florida’s leader in workforce education,” said Dr. Donald Wortham, president of Hodges University. “We are proud to partner with Workforce Now, FutureMakers, and CareerSource to provide students with an on-ramp to improved employment prospects, and employers with the skilled workforce that will keep our region competitive.”

The FutureMakers Coalition was 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, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected]

UNMAZE.ME: Understanding What ACT and SAT Means for You

By | News

This post gives parents and students the foundational information needed in understanding the ACT and SAT.

I receive a lot of questions regarding the ACT and SAT tests. What they are, when best to take them, what it means for college admissions. While some schools are moving away from using standardized test scores for college admission, for most schools it is a big part of the college admission application. Not only is admissions connected to your score, but often times scholarships as well. A few extra points here and there can make a big difference (see my recent post about the how a few points for ACT/SAT could mean 100% free tuition!).

Click here to read more.

NEWS-PRESS: Kindergarten readiness more than knowing ABCs

By | News

In order to keep our competitive edge in today’s knowledge-based economy, the next generation must have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to create and sustain new forms of enterprise.

Communities where all children enter kindergarten ready to learn are best positioned to thrive in the 21st century. Research shows that 85% of brain development occurs before age three, and growth is particularly affected by the quality of children’s home and educational learning environments. This research has special implications for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are exposed to an estimated 30 million fewer words than their economically advantaged peers (Hart & Risley, 2003).  Nobel-laureate economist James J. Heckman (2012) estimated that for “every dollar spent on high quality, birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% per annum return on investment over the course of a lifetime.”

Click here to read more.

FAFSA first! announces #IFiledFAFSAfirst social media contest winners

By | News, Press Releases

FAFSA first!, a FutureMakers Coalition campaign aimed at informing Southwest Florida high school seniors and their parents about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, announced five winners of the #IFiledFAFSAfirst social media contest.

One high school senior each from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties who entered the contest has been randomly selected to receive $500 to use toward college or career school expenses. The contest winners are:

  • Anthony Vigliotti, Florida SouthWestern Collegiate High School, Charlotte County
  • Jason Mirabal, Gulf Coast High School, Collier County
  • Blanca Aranda, Moore Haven Middle High School, Glades County
  • Thalia Esquivel, LaBelle High School, Hendry County
  • Maria Estrada, Dunbar High School, Lee County

The contest was launched to drive social media awareness and encourage conversation about FAFSA amongst high school seniors. To participate in the contest, students created a unique post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tagged five friends and FAFSA first!, and used the hashtag #IFiledFAFSAfirst.

The most recent data from Florida College Access Network shows that as of March 31, 33.34 percent of Southwest Florida seniors have completed their FAFSA. The campaign’s goal is to achieve 40 percent FAFSA completion in the region by the end of the school year, a 5 percent increase over the 2015-16 school year.

The federal deadline for filing FAFSA is June 30, although colleges and universities have varying priority and filing deadlines.

Research shows FAFSA completion rates correlate with the percentage of workforce who hold degrees, certificates and high-quality credentials. FutureMakers Coalition partners throughout the region are working to educate high school seniors and their parents about the importance of filing FAFSA.

Visit 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 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 by 2025. The Coalition is committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners. Southwest Florida was one of 75 metropolitan areas selected as part of Lumina Foundation’s Community Partnership for Attainment to increase post-secondary attainment nationwide by increasing the number of working age adults with degrees and certifications.