All Posts By

FutureMakers Coalition

Spotlight: Michael Swindle

By | News, Newsletter

Michael Swindle is a third generation Hendry County resident. Swindle Swindle lives on farmland that has been in his family for over seventy years. Living and growing up on the family farm have influenced his belief system and core values. He is a graduate of Clewiston High School and the University of Florida. After graduating from the University of Florida, Swindle returned to Clewiston where he taught Agri-Science Education and served as the advisor to the Future Farmers of America for nearly twenty years. Swindle is currently the Director of Workforce Development for Hendry County Schools where he has added multiple programs in order to provide training opportunities for Hendry County residents. In one instance, he was able to take a program that was in jeopardy of being shut down and instead, he grew it by over 300%. A FutureMakers Champion, Swindle has been a tremendous supporter of the Coalition for the past four years and recently wrote an op-ed supporting workforce development in our region, published in the News-Press.

The hard work and values instilled by this rural agriculture lifestyle have led to his success as a teacher, administrator and leader in our community. Swindle was appointed to the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners in November of 2013. Commissioner Swindle was elected his colleagues to serve as the Chair of the Board from 2015-2017. As a County Commissioner, Swindle is known for advocating for common sense approaches to improve Hendry County services. He is a constant advocate for economic development, especially in terms of small, local business growth. As a landowner, farmer and educator, Swindle has a grasp of Hendry County’s heritage but is committed to moving the County forward as a key player in the future development of Southwest Florida.

Commissioner Swindle’s life passion lies in his position as the Director of Adult Education and Workforce Development for the Hendry County School Board. As Director, Swindle implemented programs geared toward individuals obtaining certificates in trade work such as welding, building construction, industrial mechanics and nursing. Commissioner Swindle’s focus is to ensure that citizens of Hendry County have the opportunity and tools needed to excel and succeed in their hometowns. His passion for workforce development has led to a leadership role for FutureMakers Technical Colleges Strategic Grant Team as well as being an active member of the FutureMakers Guiding Team.

Dr. Anthony Jewitt

Spotlight: Dr. Anthony Jewett

By | News, Newsletter

Dr. Anthony Jewett is the Managing Partner of SW Florida Impact Partners LLP and a fourth generation native of Fort Myers and the Dunbar Community. His deep understanding of the history of Southwest Florida in concert with his work focusing on social change has made him a natural fit to help lead the FutureMakers Equity Action Team. Dr. Jewett and the entire Equity Action Team will be presenting a compelling Implicit Bias training offered monthly at Collaboratory beginning in January of 2020.

In his current role with SW Florida Impact Partners, Anthony manages the day-to-day affairs of the partnership and its work in neighborhood renewal alongside the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency. His career began as a classroom teacher with Teach for America in New York City. He was awarded a 2006 Echoing Green Public Service fellowship to establish a youth-serving nonprofit and worked on the foundation team of a private family office. He has been a Fellow at Tides Foundation in San Francisco, an Innovation Fellow at Movement Strategy Center in Oakland, and an Integrated Capital Fellow with RSF Social Finance, and an Advisory Board Member to a student-led honor society at his alma mater, Morehouse College. Anthony holds a B.A. from Morehouse College and a doctorate from Harvard University.

THE NEWS-PRESS: Local leaders discuss institutional racism, income inequality

By | News

Tessa LeSage did a bit of a dance upon taking the microphone for her turn to inspire a group of about 150 Southwest Florida community leaders uniting as the “FutureMakers Coalition.”

But then LeSage, the director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, delivered an immense challenge to the employers and educators on hand. The group has set a goal to boost the percentage of regional college or secondary degree holders from 38% to 55% within the next six years.

“We’re going to talk numbers, and some of the numbers aren’t that great,” LeSage said Thursday morning at the Collaboratory near downtown Fort Myers at Future Makers’ annual “breakfast of champions.”

In 2013, about 37% of the five-county region had secondary degrees. In 2018, that percentage had nudged upward to 38%, a gain of 21,059 college degree holders to 594,000, according to a 2018 report.

“We have to add 150,000 more degrees to get to 55% by 2025,” LeSage said. She then returned her tone to upbeat. “I think we can do it. But the system has to change.”

For more than four hours, the audience listened to and participated with topics of what some of the speakers labeled as “uncomfortable.”

Topics such as institutional racism, addressed by Sue Gallagher of the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, and income equality, addressed by FGCU President Mike Martin, were among them.

Martin urged those in the room to spend an hour people-watching off Fifth Avenue in Naples and then driving to Immokalee and doing the same. Or from Sanibel Island to Lehigh Acres. Or from West Palm Beach to Belle Glade.

“The distance is short, but the gulf is enormous,” Martin said of the economic disparity. “This is an issue we have to address. How can we give every student in this community, regardless of background, the best jump-start we can to get them in the system?”

Florida has three of the 20 wealthiest zip codes in the nation, Martin said, naming 33109 (Fisher Island, Miami), 33480 (Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach) and 34102 (Naples), noting they are near some of the poorest.

“We’re focused on the notion that we can keep our graduates in the workforce here, then we can make some changes here,” Martin said.

Gallagher then delivered her presentation that focused on racism. She gave a brief history lesson, looking at Bacon’s Rebellion in 1674, which developed the slave codes and message that black slaves were not human.

She described how it took almost 200 years to reach the Civil War in 1861-65 and ended with the “black codes,” or Jim Crow laws, which developed the message that black Americans should be separate from whites. Then she looked at the ensuing 100 years, which led to Civil Rights legislation of 1964. By no means did these new laws end systemic racism, she said.

“How could those plantation owners sleep at night?” Gallagher said. “And the answer is they were taught that blacks were not human. And this is a part of who we are. All of our systems, all of our institutions grew up under Jim Crow.

“Racism is like a virus. You shoot it with antibiotics, it gets better.”

Gallagher issued a challenge to the leaders in the audience: to spark uncomfortable but civil conversations about racism with others in the community.

“I want to thank this coalition for getting these conversations started,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, who facilitated a roundtable discussion related to those topics with Gallagher.

Other topics included employment. The average annual wage of $42,114 lags behind Florida’s average of $47,779 and $55,331 across the country, said Debbie Psihountas of Florida Southwestern State College, who addressed workforce dynamics along with Chris Westley and Aysegul Timur of FGCU and John Meyer of Hodges University.

Lawyers, nurses and teachers are among the vocations  with the highest opportunity for employment in the region, Timur said.

One challenge moving forward will be for adapting to the loss of jobs to robotics and automated computer systems, which are taking away from jobs in banking, food service and other industries, said Kathy McDonald of Florida College Access Network.

“Our mission is to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs,” she said.

John Talmage, director of Lee County economic development, concluded with the urgency and hope for more diversity of employers in the region. He noted the “Publix phenomenon,” that there are no Publix grocery stories fronting U.S. 41 between the Caloosahatchee River and Alico Road, the longest such stretch between there and Tampa.

“We have a strong, east-west nexus,” Talmage said. “So even though our communities are organized east and west, our investments are organized north and south.”

The conversations, ideas and the statistics discussed Thursday would reach a wider range of other community leaders who weren’t in the room via dialogue from those who were, LeSage said.

“I think today demonstrated how you can make more progress when we work together,” LeSage said. “We came to have conversations about systems changing. People want to have that conversation. That creates an energy that will hopefully lead to more people discussing this. It takes a lot of effort to bring people together like this.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

UnMazed: August 2019 – Teens Guide to Florida College Admissions

By | News

In this issue: 3 Steps to a Great College Application, R U Ready Webinars, 4 College Application Apps, Letters of Recommendations, Download: Teacher Recommendation Form, Jumping the Hurdle of College Tuition, College Application Types, The Importance of Nurturing a Growth Mindset, The Benefits of Thankfulness, Teens & The Importance of Job Shadowing, 4 Ways to Find a Job Shadow Experience

Read More

Spotlight: Andy Getch, FutureMaker

By | News, Newsletter

There are many unsung heroes in Southwest Florida who work hard in the trenches to move the needle on the most critical issues facing the community. These individuals volunteer their time and give selflessly to ensure that work is being done to create a sustainable future for the next generation and beyond. FutureMaker Andy Getch is the epitome of such a hero. An engineer by trade, artist and musician by night Getch has been hailed as one of the most dedicated of all citizen volunteers within the Coalition. During the most recent scholarship cycle for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Andy held the record for most amount of scholarships reviewed by the entire panel of volunteers. A member of the FutureMakers Data Team, he works tirelessly to shine a light on the areas of the work that require the most attention by contributing to the Annual Outcomes Report and Business Survey. This is invaluable to the coalition’s efforts to target equity in attainment by defining priority populations in the five-county region. Getch grew up in the Lee County School System during a time when the area was still segregated, which has translated to a deep concern for closing the equity gaps that plague the community. Andy also volunteers his time to serve on the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Sustainability Committee where he gathers transportation data to support the sustainable community design aspect the group’s work. Andy and his wife Debby are members of the Americana Community Music Association. They have incorporated their love of music to host a FutureMakers Coalition benefit concert where artists like Friction Farm, a modern folk duo who are outcome aligned with the Coalition, joined forces to increase literacy rates. Andy Getch continues to be a great example of FutureMakers working to dedicate their time to create impact.