The FutureMakers Coalition recently released its 2018 outcomes report. The goal of FutureMakers is to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce through collective leadership along the cradle-to-career pathway. The pathway begins with early childhood learning and ends with postsecondary credential attainment and job placement. The coalition has grown to over 300 FutureMakers representing business, education, government, nonprofits and philanthropy across Glades, Hendry, Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties.
Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers Coalition emphasized the importance of the report: “FutureMakers partners and other regional stakeholders use the report to measure for continuous improvement and develop projects aimed to increase credential attainment, align with regional workforce needs, apply for grants and contribute toward the coalition’s shared goal.”
The coalition works to remove barriers along the cradle-to-career pathway. For example, the data show stark attainment gaps between racial and socioeconomic populations, causing the FutureMakers Coalition to refocus their work to center on target populations who are the most vulnerable. In particular, the coalition targets equity in attainment for traditional students, adults with some postsecondary credits, and adults with no credits.
Highlights of the 2018 report include:
- High school graduation rates have increased to 81.9 percent, which is 9 percent higher than 2013.
- Rates of FAFSA completion (the gateway to financial aid for postsecondary education) have been consistently on the rise thanks in part to coordinated FutureMakers campaigns and federal process improvements. However, completion rates dropped from 47.04 percent in 2017 to 43.46 percent in 2018. Partners report this may be due in part to challenges in the region resulting from Hurricane Irma.
- The percentage of the working age population with a postsecondary credential has remained steady since 2013; as the population has grown, 9,606 more degree and certificate holders were added to the working age population between 2013 and 2016.
- Gaps in high school and postsecondary completion for black/African American and Latinx persist when compared to their white counterparts.
Increases in high school graduation rates, FAFSA completion, and postsecondary attainment show that the FutureMakers’ efforts have helped students advance along the cradle-to-career pathway more successfully. Addressing attainment gaps and better responding to external forces such as hurricanes can enhance future efforts. “It is essential to identify and address the system barriers causing these equity gaps in achievement as we look at the work of the FutureMakers Coalition moving forward,” LeSage added. “We should aim to set equitable attainment goals to provide interventions to alleviate these barriers.”
The report is a powerful tool for understanding the progress the coalition has made since unifying their efforts in 2013. It serves as a point of comparison to their baseline data for measuring collective impact. The report shows that Southwest Florida is growing and progressing in many ways and progress has been made or maintained in most of the FutureMakers’ shared outcomes.
This work is made possible by the dedication and hard work of FutureMakers Coalition partners. The full report’s findings and recommendations are available at http://www.futuremakerscoalition.com/reports/. The FutureMakers Coalition and its related teams will continue to grow and reach out to systemic stakeholders that are necessary to streamline and align the cradle-to-career pathway in Southwest Florida while honing the activities that provide the most promise in efforts to transform the regional workforce.
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 or to get involved, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email [email protected]