As it works towards its goal of transforming Southwest Florida’s workforce along the cradle-to-career pathway, the FutureMakers Coalition recently released its 2018 Outcomes Report.
The coalition is a Local College Access Network. Since its inception in 2014, FutureMakers has grown to over 300 individuals representing business, education, government, nonprofits and philanthropy across Glades, Hendry, Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties working collaboratively for better student outcomes.
“We spent the first couple of years designing outcomes so we could measure what we believe to be leading indicators,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the backbone organization for FutureMakers. The Outcomes Report utilizes 2013 as its baseline year. “It’s clear from the data that the system isn’t working as well as it could for everybody, so we have to find strategies that create system change and scale activities that are working.”
Highlights of the 2018 report include:
- High school graduation rates have increased to 81.9% in 2017, which is 9% higher than 2013.
- 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.
- 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% in 2017 to 43.4% in 2018. Partners report this may be due in part to challenges in the region resulting from Hurricane Irma.
“One of the things we’ve learned is how comprehensive the number of factors that affect attainment can be…a hurricane can haven an enormous impact on FAFSA, for example,” LeSage said. “The challenge are plenty, but we feel encouraged. There are a lot of things that are out of our control, but we’re encouraged because if we take action, we definitely can see results.”