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Challenge Grant Successful in Incentivizing Growth of Local College Access Networks

Author: Helios Education Foundation

As research from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce confirms, over 65 percent of Florida’s jobs will require a postsecondary degree by the year 2020. Florida is experiencing momentum toward that goal based partly on the collaboration of community leaders who are capitalizing on the individuality of their communities as driving forces for economic growth. Complementing each individual community’s efforts are local college access networks which bring together both the public and private sectors to focus on ensuring postsecondary education attainment rates meet workforce needs.

In 2016, the Florida Philanthropic Network, in partnership with Kresge Foundation and with a $400,000 grant from Helios Education Foundation, offered dollar-for-dollar matching challenge grants to Florida community foundations to support their leadership engagement within each community’s emerging or existing local college access network. A request for proposal was issued to nine eligible community foundations in Florida, seven of whom applied for the challenge grant. Based on their submissions, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation (Fort Myers), the Community Foundation of Collier County (Naples), the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Sarasota) each received grants for $50,000 to propel the work of their local college access networks.

Additionally, scholarship programs established permanent funds within the community foundations focused on ensuring the long-term sustainability of local college access networks.

To date, the work of local college access networks throughout the state continues to drive more students toward high-quality certificates or postsecondary degrees, better positioning the state to meet the workforce needs of the future.

For more information on local college access networks throughout Florida, visit the Florida College Access Network.

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