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24% of Hendry County adults have work credentials beyond HS, but that can change

The Collaboratory's Futuremakers Coalition in Ft Myers helps adults in Hendry County and across SWFL overcome obstacles to pursue higher education and secure well-paying jobs.
Posted at 10:05 PM, Mar 13, 2024

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS, Fla. — Right now in 2024, only 24 percent of Hendry County adults possess working credentials beyond high school.

But the Chief Impact Officer of the Collaboratory in Ft Myers, Tessa LeSage, wants to increase this number to 55% across Southwest Florida, by connecting working-age adults in Hendry and elsewhere to the things that could unlock high-quality careers.

The program, known as the Futuremakers Coalition, helps adults return to school to enhance their job prospects. To do that, it tackles barriers to that education, from financial constraints to childcare and transportation challenges.

Troy Evans leaned in to the Futuremakers Coalition when he couldn't find meaningful work in his hometown of Clewiston. "There's a struggle coming from a small town, you know, there's not much opportunity out there," Evans said. Working retail jobs with limited prospects pushed him to seek more through education.

Now, Evans says he’s enrolled in the Heavy Machinery Service Technician program at iTECH Glades technical school. He says Futuremakers was a huge help in getting there - literally.

“With driving back and forth - since I don’t live in the area the school is located they helped me out with gas cards,” Evans explained.

Now, he's a technician working on an internship with Herc Rentals, a position he’s worked for nine months.

LeSage is proud of many adults like Evans. "The work that we're doing with adults to help them re-engage with education in order to get into a well-paying job here in Southwest Florida is one of the most rewarding things that we do," said LeSage.

For Evans, the path forward is clear, viewing his current role not just as a job but as the start of a lifelong career. He summed up his experience with a reflection on the nature of problem-solving: "It's the best feeling in the world once you figure out that one problem, even if it's the smallest thing," Evans said.