FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2014) –FutureMakers, a regional, educational call to action initiative, has enlisted the help of a local hero to help launch its free mobile application designed to assist high-school seniors with their next step in education.
Sherwood Brown, former shooting guard for the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles from 2009 to 2013 and 2012-2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year, recently filmed a number of public service announcements for FutureMakers that will help promote GradApp to high-school seniors in Southwest Florida’s five-county region.
GradApp is 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.
Brown’s photo will also be used in promotional fliers, ads and posters to encourage students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid required to access any federal funds for postsecondary education, scholarships and other financial aid provided by colleges and universities.
“I wanted to give back to the community that has been so good to me,” said Brown. “All the information graduating seniors need is in one place with the GradApp. It’s a great help to parents, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
“Less than one-third of high-school seniors in our five-county area fill out the FAFSA,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “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 its next step toward the educational opportunities that are available to them now before graduation rolls around. We are very appreciative of Sherwood’s willingness to help us get the word out.”
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.
According to the Florida College Access Network, it is estimated that during 2012, Florida’s high-school graduates left behind more $100 million in Pell Grants by virtue of not completing the FAFSA form.
GradApp was developed based on feedback from members of the education community. It addresses many of the needs of those facing postsecondary educational funding challenges. The app serves as an interactive and functional toolkit to better navigate and manage postsecondary educational resources and funding.
“When looking for a college, it was a struggle,” said Brown’s mother Angela Brown. “It was tough because we wanted Sherwood to study in Florida and plan his career path here. With GradApp, it’s all at your fingertips. It walks you through how to get financial assistance for your son or daughter. I wish I had that resource when guiding Sherwood just four years ago.”
FutureMakers is the SWFLCF’s first regional call to action evolving from its 3D Initiative – Data, Dialogue and Decisions – that began last year. 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.
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. To date, more than 550 individuals have accessed the application.
“We are gathering communities of people together to help to solve regional issues and create social change,” said Owen. “Sherwood Brown is the perfect example of a local hero who is giving back to this community to help 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.