2022 Recap: Community is the Theme

hands together in a circle

From the start of the school year in August, through the holidays and winter break, time always seems to fly by. The last few months of 2022 were especially hectic following late September’s historic landfall by Hurricane Ian and ongoing recovery efforts. As we at Future Ready Collier settle into the start of 2023 and think excitedly about our goals for the year, we wanted to take a quick look back in thanks and reflection, and offer a glimpse into work already underway.

Hurricane Response: Collier Comes Together

Collier County has had a lot of practice in recent years in uniting around urgent community needs. And, as ever, local leaders and residents answered the call. Hurricane Ian brought devastation to our coastal region, displacing and upending lives, disrupting schools and businesses, and permanently changing the landscape. Immediately after the storm, the Collier Community Foundation reopened its disaster-driven Collier Comes Together donation fund. The Foundation allocates 100% of the money raised through this initiative to local nonprofits helping hurricane victims and families. Impressively and meaningfully, that tally has already topped $3 million. Donations are still being accepted; click here to learn more.

Community Assessment Survey – Open Now!

While Southwest Florida nonprofits and organizations grapple with the pressing, on-the-ground needs generated by the natural disaster, of equal focus is a new evaluation of our region’s long-term needs and quality of life. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation is leading the effort to circulate a public Collier County Community Assessment survey. This deep dive into county-level services, supports, and structures follows up on a similar survey conducted in 2016-2017, which generated a 2018 report. As Collier County’s population grows, demographics evolve, and needs shift according to those trends, it is wise to regularly perform these regional check-ups. Findings will inform future work to ensure residents have access to the homes, jobs, and amenities they need to thrive.

Thank you, Dr. Patton

We couldn’t look back at the tail end of 2022 without offering a profound thanks to Dr. Kamela Patton, who officially ended her tenure as Collier County Public Schools Superintendent. Since assuming the role in 2011, Dr. Patton received significant state and national attention for her successes, including being recognized as the 2022 Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Under Dr. Patton’s watch, the district: improved its state ranking to 5th from 33rd; grew its graduation rate almost 20 points from 72.5% to 92.2%; earned a district-wide “A” rating consecutively since 2017; and fostered a culture of excellence among its students, beating the state average last year on 21 of 21 metrics. Future Ready Collier remains connected to Collier County Public Schools and is closely monitoring the ongoing search for a new superintendent.

Future Ready Collier Priorities

As a collective impact network, our primary goals for the second half of the school year remain consistent: help our youngest embark on a successful and enriching life of learning, support students personally and academically as they traverse the primary and secondary grades, and open pathways for those on the cusp of adulthood to secure further education or career opportunities. For example, Future Ready Collier partners actively explore ways to get more financial aid and scholarship in the hands of college-bound students. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens every year on October 1. Understandably, Hurricane Ian’s arrival on September 28 was a grim distraction. Now, however, is prime time to get whatever information and assistance is available into the hands of those who need it.

Collier County is the home to remarkable people who constantly demonstrate their capacity to multi-task, responding to urgent demands while planning for future growth and success. Having a collaborative, communicative network like Future Ready Collier established greatly facilitates necessary conversations, resource-sharing, and ground-level impact. For more information about the work we do, or that of our network members, please email us at info@futurereadycollier.org.