The Education Foundation has a proud, 22-year history as the connection between the community and education in Collier County. During these years, we have developed a number of key strategies that have worked to strengthen education for the children of our community.
We believe we have a unique and important role in the learning process. As an independent, nonprofit, community-based organization, we can work across the spectrum to underscore and support the value of learning in our community.
Today, we stand re-energized and recommitted to doing even more for Collier County’s students.
This journey started with a landmark initiative for our organization and Collier education called Connect Now. This 18-month community engagement and listening process produced a statement of aspirations in 2009. It helped us to understand the inextricable relationship between our community and quality education; it opened our eyes to new possibilities.
Inspired by what we heard from our community, we have completed a rigorous strategic-planning process, and rededicated ourselves to being the community catalyst and convener for education. We have created a new mission: to bring our community together to invest in innovative practices that enrich the environment for student learning.
We have heightened our identity: We now call ourselves Champions for Learning.
And we have sharpened our focus on the learning environment, and on giving students opportunities to gain the life skills they need to succeed.
As we move forward, we will continue with the programs we know work. Teachers need community support, so we will maintain our educator networks, classroom and school-based grants, and the Golden Apple teacher recognition program.
We also will remain diligent about enriching the environment for student learning, with the Take Stock in Children scholarship and mentoring program, real-world experiences and enriching music programs.
At the same time, we will expand, develop and advocate innovative approaches that benefit student learning.
Acknowledging the importance of parental involvement in the education process, we will continue to highlight and support the student-led conferences model, exemplified at Parkside Elementary, which achieved 100 percent parent participation!
We also will double the number of students participating in the Take Stock program by offering two-year scholarships. We will develop “real world” support programs in areas of demonstrated underperformance, such as completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a requirement for many college scholarships and grants.
And we will offer Real World University sessions for all students and parents to provide leadership and workplace skills, college preparation, career exploration and more.
We are committed to providing opportunities for teachers and principals to share best practices; we will accomplish this by expanding educator networks and sharing program outcomes with educators and community.
And we will build community-based networks that inspire innovation. This will involve programs such as the Nov. 29 Education Forum, “It’s Being Done,” featuring Kati Haycock, CEO of the Education Trust, as well as roundtables for community leaders to share understanding and ideas.
Finally, we will continue to build the website and volunteer framework to promote involvement and align community support with identified school-based initiatives, so successful programs will not go unimplemented due to lack of funding. For The Education Foundation — Champions for Learning, this is a new and exciting time. We can see a future in which students are prepared to move forward, with their lives and their careers, on much stronger footing. And we intend to advocate and fight for them to have that chance.
Still, it requires broad-based community support to achieve successes in learning that have real impact on student performance. We urge you to become involved by learning through our forums and roundtables, by volunteering as a mentor for a Take Stock scholar or in a classroom or by making a financial gift to support any part of our work.
We owe it to our community and to our children to provide every student with an education that will prepare him or her to thrive in this ever-more-competitive world.
Won’t you join us on the bus and become a Champion for Learning?
For information on the forum, volunteer activities and funding opportunities, please call President Susan McManus at 239-643-4755 or visit www.ChampionsForLearning.org. We can see a future in which students are prepared to move forward, with their lives and their careers, on much stronger footing.