FORT MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2013) –FutureMakers, a regional, educational call to action initiative, has launched a free mobile application designed to assist high-school seniors with their next step in education.
GradApp is now available for download and viewing on mobile devices, tablets and online screens. The mobile application features comprehensive information about career opportunities, skills and education requirements for a variety of careers, links to jobs, education planning resources, available scholarships and financial aid, money management and more.
Development of the GradApp was made possible by a $7,275 grant from Wells Fargo. The financial services company’s corporate giving program is committed to supporting initiatives that promote academic achievement for low- to moderate-income students and facilitate merit-based access to higher education for underrepresented groups.
“Education is the doorway to the future,” said Debra Faulk, community affairs officer for Wells Fargo. “We want to help our youth be the best they can be, and accessing continuing education is an important part in helping our communities thrive and be sustainable.”
“Less than one-third of high-school seniors in our five-county area fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid required to access any federal funds for postsecondary education,” said Dave Fleming, chief strategic officer for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and FutureMakers team leader. “Understanding what type of financial aid is available and how much they qualify for can make the difference between going to college or not. The GradApp is the first tool we have created to help the class of 2014 take their next step toward the educational opportunities that are available to them now before their graduation rolls around.”
Data released by the U.S. Department of Education show that just 37 percent of the working-age adult population in Florida has earned a two or four year degree. By 2018, 59 percent of all jobs in Florida will require a post-secondary education, and 1.6 million workers with post-secondary credentials will be needed to fill new and vacant jobs in Florida. College graduates earn twice what workers without degrees earn according to federal government figures.
GradApp was developed based on feedback from members of the education community and addresses many of the needs of those facing post-secondary educational funding challenges. The app serves as an interactive and functional toolkit to better navigate and manage post-secondary educational resources and funding.
“The launch of GradApp demonstrates FutureMakers’ commitment to serving the Southwest Florida community,” said Marshall Bower, president and CEO of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and FutureMakers team member. “We have found that many of our graduating students, especially those challenged by economic and environmental barriers, are not aware of how to take the next step in their education, whether it be some type of college or technical school. GradApp is aimed at increasing the number of regional students who fill out the FAFSA form and ultimately go on to a college or technical school to gain valuable higher education and job skills.”
FutureMakers is the SWFLCF’s first regional call to action evolving from its 3D Initiative – Data, Dialogue and Decisions – that began last year. The collective force of the five-county 3D Initiative team is aimed at igniting action and results, and engaging local donors as well as creating funding opportunities from outside the Southwest Florida area. The 3D Initiative team determined that the widening educational gap – the difference between the number of students going on to college or other post-secondary programs and the number of educated workers needed – is a critically important issue that could be addressed and impacted through a regional strategy.
A team of more than a dozen stakeholders from the SWFLCF, the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Southwest Florida Works, The Education Foundation of Collier County-Champions For Learning and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast make up the FutureMakers coalition focusing on strengthening Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties. In addition to launching GradApp, FutureMakers is taking an active role in aiding high-school seniors through one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops, financial aid application support and career coaching.
“Let’s face it, there are not enough guidance counselors to handle the need for assistance by our high-school seniors, and many parents in economically challenged areas may not have attended college or a technical school so they are at a loss of how to help their kids access funding,” said Fleming. “Funding and scholarships are being left untouched. It’s up to us to help these kids have the bright future that’s available to them.”
“We are gathering communities of people to solve regional problems together and create social change,” said Sarah Owen, SWFLCF president and CEO. “Imagine a region where graduating seniors feel the support of their communities as they take their next steps into educational opportunities. We can launch tomorrow’s leaders into the education that readies them for success.”
Naples-based MassiveU developed GradApp. MassiveU is a leading mobile-first learning solutions company that utilizes apps to deliver learning content to virtually any mobile device, tablet or online screen. MassiveU works with content providers such as educational institutions, publishers and trainers to create, distribute and monetize mobile-learning app experiences.
To download or access GradApp, visit www.massiveu.com/gradapp.