Southwest Florida is working to improve college and career readiness

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

I want to highlight the FutureMakers Coalition’s work this week.  This is a wonderful five county effort to improve students’ prospects to achieve post-secondary employment and a career path that includes a livable wage and opportunities for growth.  With a husband teaching middle school and a son working with New York inner City students to prepare them to take the SATs, student achievement is a topic my family and I spend a fair amount of time discussing.

We recently reviewed some sobering figures in a report on the college and career readiness of US High School Graduates. The report compared actual student performance against college and career ready measures and found that only 21 percent of high school students in the state of Florida met all the recommended college readiness benchmarks. Although it was great to see that high school graduation rates continue to rise, we can’t let our students’ educational careers end there. The level of education demanded by today’s jobs, especially in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), exceeds the supply of available workers.  And this is the opportunity; train students for jobs that exist today.

The FutuerMakers Coalition is an important regional initiative, undertaken by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, with support of the Lumina Foundation, to create and support a culture of aspiration, completion and careers. It’s amazing to see so many of our local leaders and organizations all working together to implement innovative solutions to ensure educational access and attainment in our region. I encourage you to do your part in supporting our local education initiatives like the FutureMakers Coalition. To learn more about how you can become a FutureMaker, visit

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