The FutureMakers Coalition aims to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications and other high-quality credentials to 55%.

FutureMakers is a collective impact initiative working along the cradle-to-career pathway to create a skilled and sustainable workforce pipeline. The pathway begins with early childhood learning and ends with post-high school credential attainment and career connections. The coalition focuses on systems change to connect untapped workforce with the education and training to fill in-demand jobs by removing attainment barriers and creating a culture of career exploration and aspiration from an early age.

Post-high school education enhances social mobility and quality of life. Unfortunately, there are stark attainment gaps between populations throughout our region. The coalition uses a multigenerational approach to address disparities for traditional-age students and adults alike. To achieve our goal, we must align systems to be fair and work for everyone by closing achievement gaps between races, ethnicities, income levels, neighborhoods, and citizenship status


Southwest Florida needs more brain power. More than 60% of jobs require education beyond high school, and a skilled workforce is the best economic development incentive.

We have a wealth of untapped capacity and potential. Our five-county region includes tens of thousands first-generation students, underemployed adults, and people who never pursued or completed programs due to financial burdens, time constraints, and a multitude of other reasons.

The coalition has grown to over 300 FutureMakers representing business, education, government, nonprofits, philanthropy, residents, and students across Glades, Hendry, Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. Working regionally enhances the coalition’s ability to attract state and national funding and expertise. It also helps us share and coordinate best practices to maximize the knowledge and resources we already have. Hover over the counties below to see examples of work being accomplished by FutureMakers County Partners:

Glades – FutureMakers in Glades county use the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program to improve student achievement using research-based instructional methods, organizational strategies, Socratic tutoring sessions, mentoring, and postsecondary education preparation. AVID is a comprehensive system for instructing teachers at all grade levels how to inspire their students to be leaders, achievers, and team players.
Charlotte – County partners within the school systems and technical colleges work to remove barriers in attainment for in-demand jobs by targeting populations in greatest need for career connections.
Lee – The School System of Lee County has aligned their strategic plan to FutureMakers outcomes. Their mission is to ensure each student achieves his/her highest potential by striving for excellence, integrity, accountability, and professionalism. They aim to be a world-class school system that believes in and sets high expectations for its students.
Hendry – County partners within the school systems and technical colleges work to remove barriers in attainment for in-demand jobs by targeting populations in greatest need for career connections.
Collier – Future Ready Collier connects organizations, businesses, schools and community members to increase kindergarten readiness and assist every young so they can enter adulthood with a vision and plan to accomplish that vision.


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 FutureMakers Coalition formed in March 2015 as part of the Southwest Florida region’s inclusion in Lumina Foundation’s Community Partners for Attainment, a program of 75 community cohorts throughout the country dedicated to significantly increasing the percent of residents with college degrees and post-secondary certifications and credentials.



  • Southwest Florida Talent Hub
  • Conversations on Structural Racism & Implicit Bias Pilot Launched
  • COVID Lock-downs begin
  • HR Poll reveals demand for qualified workers
  • Equity and COVID Conversation Series launched
  • Glades County Schools & FSW Collegiate High School Punta Gorda designated FL FAFSA Champions
  • Regional Educational and Workforce Outcomes Report – first time combine FutureMakers and WorkforceNow Report


  • Recalibrated Collaborative Structure & Distributed Leadership Model
  • Early Learning Parent Communication Project Funded
  • FGCU Action Team Formed
  • Internships Project Team Formed
  • Equity Action Expert Team Formed
  • Hospitality System Alignment Team Formed
  • Received Invitation to Apply for Talent Hub Community Designation from Lumina Foundation


  • FutureMakers Endowment Established
  • Technical Colleges Pilot Impact of Emergency & Gap Funding
  • Lee County Action Team Formed
  • Held Inaugural Dream Summit
  • Finding Your Path to Success: College and Career Readiness Project Piloted


  • Early Learning Effort to Increase Kindergarten Readiness Piloted
  • Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Chrysalis Award – Education
  • Workforce Now Merged with FutureMakers
  • Hodges Professional Effectiveness Certificate Piloted


  • Released Baseline Data Report – Establishing Regional Outcomes
  • Future Ready Collier Officially Launched
  • Healthcare System Alignment Project Piloted
  • FAFSA first! Campaign Launched
  • Held Inaugural Student Voice Summit


  • Awarded Challenge Grant from Richard M. Schulz Family Foundation
  • FutureMakers Coalition Officially Launched
  • Regional Action Teams Formed
  • Held Inaugural Breakfast of Champions Meeting


  • Earned Designation as Community PArtner for Attainment from Lumina Foundation


  • FAFSA Project Piloted


  • 3D Initiative Report REleased


Tessa Lesage

Tessa LeSage

Chief Impact Officer

April Mesa

April Mesa

Navigator Coordinator

Deborah Wagner

Executive Assistant, Impact

Yamilette Madera

Yamilette Madera


Jennifer Cosby

Jennifer Cosby


Crystal Maldonado

Scholarship Coordinator

Luz Martinez

Luz Martinez


Kaleigh Lawrence

Coalition Coordinator

Alex Breault

Partnership Manager

Lisa Freitas

Coalition Coordinator

Dariia Lukianenko

Grant Accountant

Africa Newby


Miara Jean