Tessa LeSage

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2016) – Tessa LeSage, director of strategy for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, will be a guest presenter at Lumina Foundation’s national conference in February.

LeSage will present “I’m a FutureMaker: Building a Coalition One Story at a Time” on Feb. 8 to 10 at the Marriott Grand Hotel in St. Louis, Mo. The session will focus on how FutureMakers captures stories that compel stakeholders to want to be a part of a coalition.

“Messaging and communications is both the key to and the greatest challenge of building a regional coalition from the ground-up,” said LeSage. “I’m excited to be sharing with our national peers how the FutureMakers Coalition is reaping the benefits of a strong focus on an effective communications strategy.”

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.

The FutureMakers Coalition was born out of a two-year regional initiative focused on increasing the number of high-school seniors in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties. completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Responding to the Florida College Access Network’s 2012 report that more than $100 million in Pell Grants went unclaimed by Florida students, the initial effort involved a team of more than a dozen stakeholders who invested in high-school seniors through one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops and support, and career coaching.

Within a year and with the recommendation of FCAN and Helios, the work of the inaugural FutureMakers program was recognized by Lumina Foundation, an independent private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. The FutureMakers Coalition benefits from Lumina’s collaborative approach that connects Southwest Florida to renowned national thought-leadership organizations and provides technical and planning assistance, data tools and flexible funding as attainment plans are customized.

LeSage earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, Master of Public Administration degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP).  During 2011, she was recognized as one of Southwest Florida’s accomplished young leaders, receiving Gulfshore Business’ “40 Under Forty” Award and received the Urban Land Institute’s Trailblazer Award. She was also a finalist for the Women in Business Fort Myers Chamber Of Commerce APEX Award.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.