May 8, 2018 Prosperity for Every Zip Code in Florida

Young boy and his mother reading together on a park bench
 

While attending a two-day Business Leader’s Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity hosted by the Florida Chamber Foundation, I was introduced to this aspiration: Prosperity for Every Zip Code in Florida.

Every Zip Code in Florida?  Is that even possible?  Prosperity for Every Zip Code in Florida seemed like a quintessential BHAG: a big, hairy, audacious goal.

The statistics for our region of children under the age of 18 living in poverty are daunting.

 

Children under the age of 18 living in Poverty

Charlotte County 23.4%
DeSoto County 42.0%
Manatee County 20.5%
Sarasota County 17.9%
http://www.flchamber.com/research/the-florida-scorecard/

 

But, is it possible?  Could individuals, businesses, government, nonprofits and the media actually reach this goal? The more I pondered the aspiration and thought about what that would mean for children and families across the state, the more I grew to embrace this bold goal and believe in our ability to attain it.

Prosperity doesn’t necessarily mean great wealth. Prosperity can be described as success, ease or comfort.  I want to live in a state where:

  • Parents have the ease of knowing there is enough food to feed their hungry children
  • Everyone has the comfort of an affordable roof over their head
  • Citizens are able to experience the success of having a high-quality education
  • There are enough well-paying jobs for everyone who desires one
  • There is a network of transportation options to allow mobility for employment and socialization
  • Parents will have access to high-quality childcare.
  • Neighborhoods will be safe
  • All citizens will have the comfort of knowing they have access to healthcare, preventive, curative, and palliative.

So, what will it take?  How can we each play our part in attaining this BHAG?  It’s important to note that no one person or entity has the answer to this question.  It’s equally important to realize that no one person or entity has the sole responsibility of achieving this goal.  It is going to take all of us, individuals, businesses, government, not-for-profits, and the media.  We need to talk to each other and really listen.  Each of us needs to be willing to think new thoughts, approach issues and obstacles in a new way, and be willing to take action.  By working together, we will be able to accomplish more.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is committed to helping Florida reach this goal.  By concentrating on the five pillars of our work, School Readiness, Attendance, Summer Learning, Family Engagement, and Health, we will help to move the needle for the most vulnerable families in Florida.  We will continue to work with partners from all sectors to lift our children to the success they deserve.