The FutureMakers Coalition builds upon a successful regional collaboration launched in 2013 to increase the number of graduating high school students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, and tap into more than $3 billion in unclaimed federal college and post-secondary assistance.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation identified FutureMakers as its first regional call to action and assembled a group of education, civic, business and government leaders who provided funding for public service announcements, scholarships and development of the Grad App and created a student support network for one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops, financial-aid application support and career coaching.

The Grad App is a comprehensive mobile application providing information about career opportunities, skills and education requirements for a variety of careers, links to jobs, education-planning resources, available scholarships and financial aid, money management and more. It was promoted by local hero Sherwood Brown, former shooting guard for Florida Gulf Coast University’s 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 men’s basketball team, aka Dunk City.

Together we successfully increased FAFSA completion and shared so many stories of students who once thought college was unattainable.

Because of this demonstration of regional success and emphasis on post-secondary attainment, the initiative received the attention of Lumina Foundation which accepted Southwest Florida into an elite group of 75 communities throughout the country.