Every year on October 1, FAFSA opens to high school seniors and anyone considering post-high school education during the following school year. This annual application is the key to receiving most financial aid and scholarship. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can seem overwhelming. Often, students and families worry they won’t qualify, or won’t be able to finish it. Free FAFSA Completion Events are designed to help. Counselors and experts provide in-person guidance at community events located throughout Collier County.
Florida College Access Network (FCAN), a state-level partner to Future Ready Collier, has launched its Cash for College initiative. The program encourages anyone thinking about post-high school education to finish their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). FAFSA is the most direct and inclusive way for postsecondary students to apply for and receive funding for school. This includes federal financial aid as well as consideration for other scholarships and grants.
State, regional, and local initiatives share information about the value of pursuing post-high school education or training. Data show that newer jobs demand higher levels of training and education. Systemic challenges like COVID-19 make existing strains more evident. A well-educated workforce connects to a robust economy, and workers benefit throughout their careers. Many partners come together to help with preparing our Florida workforce.
On October 7, Future Ready Collier hosts a virtual community conversation with the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) about their Talent Strong Florida initiative. Talent Strong Florida joins stakeholders in education and the business community to bring attention to the value of post-high school training. FCAN’s recently welcomed executive director and their assistant director for network partnerships will participate in the conversation.
Even—or especially—during times of unprecedented disruption, Future Ready Collier seeks to be an asset for the community. A collective of over 60 educational nonprofits, agencies, and community stakeholders, Future Ready Collier’s mission is to support students throughout their educational experience. Importantly, this extends to an appreciation that academic success is contingent on factors outside the classroom. In addition to aggregating its own materials, Future Ready Collier receives and distributes resources from its partners.
A survey conducted in May 2020 by the Florida College Access Network begins to reveal some of the effects of COVID-19 on workforce and higher education. Most immediately relevant to Future Ready Collier, the pandemic is negatively impacting students’ post-high school plans. The data indicate that students already pursuing postsecondary education of some kind, and current or graduating high school students exploring their next steps, are being affected.
When Future Ready Collier was formalized, it was as a strategic offshoot of the Greater Naples Chamber’s Opportunity Naples initiative. This effort identified a need to assign resources to support students throughout their primary education. In the intervening years, the Chamber has retained a meaningful role in Future Ready Collier. Specifically, helping to steer conversations about work-based learning and facilitating transitions from school to career. Meaningfully, the Chamber’s board approved establishing a full-time staff position dedicated to exploring relevant partnerships with employers, and upholding schools in their efforts to deliver new meaningful work-related experiences for students.