Local College Access Networks: An Underutilized Resource
I am a FutureMaker. While many of you may not know what that means, I bet you believe in the shared vision that many educators, community leaders, business partners, and others have: to build a collaborative network to ensure all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve an education beyond high school to prosper in Florida’s dynamic economy.
Locally, the FutureMakers Coalition and FutureReady Collier are leading the way in regional collaboration to focus on a Cradle-to-Career pathway to increase post-secondary completion to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and certifications. We do so by focusing on six Regional Action Teams that focus on a variety of systemic issues, such as early childhood-learning, post-secondary access, aligning workforce needs with post-secondary requirements, increasing completion rates, establishing important and varied post-secondary statistics and information, and information and communication with regional partners.
One area of focus is on increasing FAFSA completion in the area through the FAFSA First Campaign. It provides a toolkit for parents and educators to help students complete their FAFSA. Other initiatives are committee driven, such as the upcoming FAFSA & Scholarship Webinar in partnership with UnMazed Magazine, regional WorkForce Now study, and Scholarship Connector, a regional scholarship search engine.
Statewide, there are 12 regional action teams, called Local College Access Networks (LCAN) that have the support and shared vision under the Florida College Access Network (FCAN), an independent, statewide organization.
FCAN’s guiding values are:
1. College is postsecondary education- including technical certificates and academic degrees.
2. College readiness is career readiness- PreK-12 prepares students academically for success in college or a career.
3. College is for everyone- all Florida students deserve the opportunity to pursue a high-quality postsecondary education.
4. College is a public good- postsecondary education is critical to our growing society and economy.
5. Reaching Goal 2025 will require collective action- Florida needs strategic partnerships from all sectors.
Why join the movement? Since 2008, the growth of jobs requiring only a high school diploma has declined, but over 8.4 million jobs were added that needed a bachelor’s degree or higher. Floridians with no more than a high school diploma earned about $27,000 per year, while a bachelor’s degree or higher earned about $67,000 a year. Partnering together allows for a wider collective impact to help our communities grow and prosper with increased wages and stronger economy. As parents, educators, and community members, this has a direct impact on the students we serve. How can you help? 1) Support- Identify with the work and goal. Learn about initiatives and share it with family and friends, 2) Join- Join a Regional Action Team that lead a more vibrant economy and improved quality of life for all, 3) Fund- Supporting the team by offering in-kind services, and donation of time and resources help propel the mission forward.