What do you want to be when you grow up?

How many times have we either asked that of someone or been asked that question? GiveWell Community Foundation (GWCF) is a proud partner of our Local College Access Network, Polk Vision. Polk Vision is a community-led partnership of organizations, businesses, government, and individuals acting collectively to ensure implementation of Polk County’s community vision. Their mission is to actively facilitate a process where Polk County realizes its aspirations and full potential by identifying and building awareness of community priorities, promoting partnerships, and encouraging accountability.

Focus Areas
Through specific areas of focus: Education, Government, Economic Development, Quality of Life, Infrastructure and Civic Engagement, Polk Vision developed Alignment Teams to create outcomes for sustained improvement for our community. Education includes a Literacy Team, and Talent Pipeline Team. These Teams strategize on improving literacy proficiency, and filling the gaps of high skill, high wage jobs necessary to meet Polk County’s current and emerging industry workforce needs.

Team strategies in other focus areas also overlap with Education including the Infrastructure Team to ensure student safety through sidewalk placement, bicycle, and pedestrian safety. Polk Vision has had success in other important areas of education. The former Attendance Team has been successful in developing strategies to reduce absenteeism in our schools and the former Community Partnership Team developed strategies to provide holistic support for students and their families.

With Polk graduation rates declining along with post-secondary enrollment, GWCF is partnering with Polk Vision to bridge these gaps through student and parent education about the value of college and trade careers and assisting with FAFSA completion so more students can afford to attend college. By 2025, the state estimates that 60% of our population will need a degree or credentials to meet workforce demands.

CASI 2.0 Grant
Thanks to a matching College Access & Success Initiative (CASI 2.0) grant from Florida Philanthropic Network with funding made possible from the Helios Education Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, and a GiveWell Community Foundation fundholder, Polk Vision is expanding the existing career and college planning efforts in Polk County.

Student Resources
Polk Vision has created resources to help students with workforce preparedness through creation of an Internship Guide for higher education internships in Polk County that connects students with local companies; Career Insights is a virtual tool for students to catch a glimpse of fields of interests for career ideas; “Be The Future Be Uwebsite for students that offers topics ranging from advanced high school course selection to early admission options; and Education & Industry Roundtables to hear directly from business leaders about what they were experiencing with the Polk County labor market.

Polk Vision is also targeting middle school students with Career Explorations to expose students to various trade possibilities as well as professional industries starting with a pilot program at McLaughlin Academy of Excellence in Lake Wales, FL. It’s all about planning and Polk Vision has created a community of teams and stakeholders to help students and parents connect to all that Polk County has to offer. Together, we can bridge the gaps to help all students achieve their highest potential.

To learn more about the work and impacts of Polk Vision, visit  https://polkvision.com/. To help make a difference in student success, consider donating to the CASI Initiative at https://www.givecf.org/donate/ and choose “I Know the Name of the Fund” and type CASI 2.0 or mail your donation directly to Polk Vision at 999 Avenue H NE #79, Winter Haven, FL 33881.

Thank you for investing in our youth and our future!

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