State lawmakers, Florida college chiefs, officials from Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Helios Education Foundation to tout partnerships in bid to credential 60% of Florida working-age residents by 2025

 Tampa, FL— By the year 2018, nearly 60 percent of all jobs will require a degree but currently only 37 percent of Florida residents have one. To increase the number of college grads who can build Florida’s economy, a diverse coalition of state lawmakers, non-profit directors, business leaders, foundation presidents and college chiefs will come together around an agenda to pioneer a collective approach to increasing access to higher education.

This collaboration-sparking event will take place Friday, June 14, from 7:15am to 2:30pm at the Tampa Marriott Waterside as part of the 2013 Florida College Access and Success Summit, organized  by the Florida College Access Network (Florida C.A.N.!). To register, click here or visit and click on the summit banner.

Every day in our state, hundreds of groups mentor students, perform exam prep, help with financial aid, and model college-level study skills. But for real systemic change to take place, these groups must share best practices and engage in collective action. For instance, in a panel on building local college access networks, Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network, will share her experience guiding the formation of nearly 50 regional college networks in her state, leading to greatly improved rates of college enrollment. Across Florida, several foundations and non-profits are attempting to do the same. Sarah Owen, president of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, will speak about her group’s efforts to build a college-going culture in a five-county region, convening local stakeholders and funding regional strategies. In an interactive luncheon session, Paul Luna, CEO of the Helios Education Foundation, will discuss the value and importance of such an approach for making greater community impact and driving systemic change for the benefit of students in Florida.

Other conference activities include panel discussions that show how two new Florida policy endeavors—Common Core Implementation and the recently passed Career and Professional Education Act­—will reshape high school graduation, college readiness and workforce readiness. A mid-morning panel on Common Core Standards implementation, will feature Scott Hill, a program officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who has years of experience advising states on standards implementation and Anna Shults, Florida Department of Education Deputy Chancellor who oversees Common Core implementation  for Florida Schools.  Senator John Legg, who chairs the Florida Senate’s K-20 Education Policy Committee, will explain the real-world impact of recently passed schools legislation that lays out multiple pathways to high school graduation and industry-level certification.

Florida College Access Network receives support from the Florida Department of Education, Helios Education Foundation, Lumina Foundation, WUSF and the University of South Florida. For more information, please call communications specialist Casey Sanchez at (813) 974-8606 or by e-mail at

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