What exactly is Achieve Escambia?
Over the past 18 months, you may have seen news articles about a movement called “Achieve Escambia” that is working to improve outcomes from cradle to career in our community. In the near future, you will be hearing and seeing a lot more from this effort.
The best way may be to describe Achieve Escambia may be to explain what it is not.
It is not a program that provides a service.
Achieve Escambia is a collective impact approach to improving cradle to career outcomes. In other words, we’re looking to align the work being done by so many wonderful groups in our community so that they will complement each other.
Collective impact works to bring educators, non-profits, parents, students, businesses, and faith leaders together to determine how to achieve a specific goal, and how to measure success.
One year ago, more than 200 people from across the community came together at the Corinne Jones Community Center at Sanders Beach to determine what areas Achieve Escambia would focus on first.
By an overwhelming vote, kindergarten readiness was selected as our first priority outcome.
Since then, 30-plus partners have been meeting monthly to discuss bright spots and gaps within our community. The core focus of this group is to help get children ages 0-5 ready for kindergarten. We will soon move into pilot projects and systems improvements, working across sectors and organizations to align resources and efforts.
Our first baseline report will be launched by the end of the summer. Achieve Escambia is using data to drive our decision making and our partners in this effort include the University of West Florida’s Haas Center, Studer Community Institute, and all cradle to career providers. This allows for all involved to understand our goals and to keep political or emotional factors from being part of the equation.
Later this year, Achieve Escambia will begin work on our second “Collective Action Network,” or CAN. Working in partnership with FloridaWest, CareerSource Escarosa and other key partners, this CAN will focus on career readiness.
I am humbled to be a part of such a movement. If Escambia County is to be successful in the educating of all of her children, then it will take an intentional, concerted effort from all of her residents. Some can’t be at the table of change while others are not. Some can’t care, while others care less. For Escambia County to push toward greater success, from cradle to career, then it will take greater efforts from all of us who love and call Escambia County our home.
You may be wondering, “Why should this be important to me?” Well, the answer is simple. We are working to improve future generation’s economic opportunities. We live in a dynamic and changing world. We want our community’s children to be prepared to succeed. Escambia County has the tools (all the talented and committed groups working with our youth), now we just need to make sure we’re all working toward the same goal. All of us rowing the boat in the same direction will help generations find the economic success we all desire our children to have.
Many people have asked us, “How can I get involved?” Well, if you or your organization is involved with children from birth to age 5, we would want you to be part of our Kindergarten Readiness CAN. Or there are other areas of focus that might interest you more. We recently launched our updated website, and we encourage everyone to check it out: AchieveEscambia.org.
This push to align efforts is very exciting for our community. It will take an entire community sharing our vision of improving outcomes, cradle to career, to help our friends and families have a shot at a better tomorrow. The work has already begun. Join us today to be part of the solution.
Lonnie Wesley is the pastor at Greater Little Rock Baptist Church and is member of the Achieve Escambia’s Leadership Council Executive Committee