In assessing how to strengthen our communities, collaboration is a frequently raised topic—most commonly relative to its current insufficiency. Local stakeholders may bemoan the lack of cohesiveness, overlapping or unclear missions, competition, and siloing that keeps ideas and action from collective generation. In Southwest Florida, Future Ready Collier is an example of collective action happening in real time, to real effect.
On any given day during what we might now refer to as “normal” times, the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County would welcome 400 to 500 kids at their Immokalee facility, and 500 to 600 in Naples. The Collier County Boys & Girls Club, like its affiliates nationwide, provides an after-school and summer sanctuary for students. Programs encompass mentorship, academic learning, physical wellbeing, and personal development. The model embraced by the Boys & Girls Club is intended to provide essential supports for children who may for any reason lack access to that foundational structure in their personal and home lives. What’s more, it’s been shown to work.
A partner organization since Future Ready Collier’s founding, the Guadalupe Center has a 35-year history of, as their organizational mission decrees, using educational opportunity to help break the cycle of poverty for the children of Immokalee. Currently, Guadalupe is heavily involved in Future Ready Collier (FRC), intentionally encouraging and enabling their leadership and staff at all levels to support the initiative.
Tim Ferguson is respected throughout Collier County for his bold leadership of Grace Place, successfully steering the organization through a substantial capital campaign and major campus expansion, and shepherding its mission to raise up communities through collective engagement, literacy, and educational opportunity. With characteristic confidence, Tim, an early supporter of Future Ready Collier, offers as an observation that we are “on the threshold of collective impact becoming the way we do business in Collier County.” Grace Place, under Tim’s thoughtful watch, has been an instrumental player in Future Ready Collier since its inception. Counting more than 60 partner organizations, Future Ready Collier is enabling individual organizations to combine efforts, resources, and ideas to generate real results for Collier County’s educational system.
A goal of the Family Engagement and Literacy priority team has been to increase home libraries for children 0-4. This has been made possible through support of Books for Collier Kids. Through the partners and volunteers, they recently started to distribute books to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices, expecting to hand out 1,000 books per month.
Last week, #FutureReadyCollier accepted the Unsung Heroes of Community Resilience Award along with many other great heros within Florida! Congratulations to all for a well-deserved recognition! #FCAN2018 #CreateTheFuture #FCANHero
Special thanks to the organizational support of Champions For Learning and the amazing FRC network partners. Photo Credit: Florida College Access Network