Education is a Community Team Effort

Future Ready Collier is a collective impact network of more than 60 participating organizations. With a core focus on education, including access to learning opportunities from birth through post-high school training, you’d be right in assuming most of those 60-plus participants have missions grounded in education. However, the Future Ready Collier network equally values the collaborative role that community plays in preparing young people for life and the workforce. Academics are the most obvious component of education. But there’s a whole universe of non-academic enrichment and development. Plus, students’ success in school often starts with support at home, so Future Ready Collier takes care to incorporate conversations around family, parent, and caregiver involvement and needs. To that end, let’s take a look at how some of the partners you might not expect to see at the Future Ready Collier table contribute to the discussion.

Greater Naples Chamber

The Greater Naples Chamber represents businesses in Collier County, with over 1200 members, accounting for 50,000 total employees. While the Chamber has long taken an expansive, inclusive view of community and business development, they have become more proactively vocal about the importance of a thriving educational pipeline. Not only does this relate to current and future workforce needs in Southwest Florida, but an intact school and out-of-school infrastructure ensures that parents are able to work while trusting that their children are cared for.

Within its programs, the Chamber dedicates a great deal of time and staff resources to talent development and career pathways. For example, its affiliated Leadership Collier Foundation hosts initiatives such asYouth Leadership Collier, which convenes rising high school seniors to gain business and leadership skills through topics such as government, healthcare, law enforcement, agriculture, media, human services, the arts, and environment. The Chamber partners with local educational institutions and businesses to offer work-based learning opportunities and internships. Related activities may include inviting guest speakers to meet with students, creating opportunities to practice networking skills, setting up mock interviews, and arranging for work-site visits.

The Chamber works with Greater Naples Leadership to host an annual Volunteer Expo. Here, local nonprofits can have tables set up to share information about their programs and how people can get involved. Previously, as many or more than 75 organizations have registered to attend. It is free for community members to register and attend. In 2022, this event is scheduled for November 3. The Youth Business Fair showcases student entrepreneurs’ product or service ideas. Not only do participating students learn about business development, they get the chance to interact with attendees. Additionally, the Chamber has taken a public position supporting early childhood learning. Having high-quality infant and toddler programs in place fosters healthy development in children before kindergarten, and empowers their parents to pursue their own careers. To that end, the Chamber has included early childhood education in their formal policy priorities.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office

While the Collier County Sheriff’s Office is most visibly known for its responsibility for law enforcement, the CCSO does a great deal else for our community. For example, CCSO’s Youth Relations Division consists of two sections, the Youth Relations Bureau and the Youth & Prevention Services Bureau. The first is responsible for placing deputies in schools, where they fill many roles: promote safety and prevent crime, work with administrators, support parents, offer short-term intervention counseling, mentor students, and even provide classroom instruction. Members of the Youth & Prevention Services Bureau receive specific training to help young people at risk.

Within the Youth Relations Division, CCSO also has historically hosted fun and innovative events for children and teens in Collier County. These have included SUMMERfest, with fishing, open gym, and other activities; the Teen Driver Challenge, which teaches teens hands-on driving skills; Hot Summer Nights, which offers games and fun in June and July when school and sports are not in session; Do The Right Thing, which recognizes Collier County youth for their good deeds and unique accomplishments; Junior Deputies for 4th-graders; Law Enforcement against Drugs for 5th-graders; and the Explorers program run through the Boys Scouts of America.

These are only some of the countless ways the Collier County community, along with regional and state partners, create opportunities for success for students and families. The Chamber, the Sheriff’s Office, and others recognize and appreciate that academic education is only one part of learning and growth. Future Ready Collier’s role is to bring these important community leaders together to share resources and ideas. The collaborative nature of the collective impact network creates meaningful chances for connection, learning, and shared doing. If you would like to learn more about the work of Future Ready Collier, please contact us at