Achieve Escambia: Report defines education challenges

Achieve Escambia: Report defines education challenges

Building success from cradle to career. A group called Achieve Escambia has a new approach and a new tool to measure progress. Tuesday, the group released its baseline report on education and career readiness in Escambia County.

Statistics in the report define some big challenges; 27.4 percent of children in the county live in poverty. Just 66 percent of children are ready for kindergarten. High school graduation rates lag behind the state average.

Achieve Escambia aims to be the glue between the sometimes diverging efforts to help children succeed - education, government agencies, nonprofits, the business community and the faith community.

At a breakfast at the Brownsville Community Center, Jennifer Grove of Gulf Power explained that the push started in the business community, then branched out.

She recalled, "We thought, what if we could align with the entire community and all be focused in the same direction? Could we achieve greater results for more students faster?"

Grove said Achieve Escambia is not another "program." It's a place where people can come together and fill knowledge gaps.

As leader of Achieve's Kindergarten Readiness Network, Grove learned first hand those gaps exist.

She explained, "In addition to not necessarily knowing what each other does, what kind of students they do work with, what their eligibility requirements are, etc....In addition to that, some people had misconceptions about what another program did."

Doug Brown of the Community Action Committee said getting everybody in the same room and on the same page will help children get more of the support they need.

He said, "I think the challenge in any type of relationship is communication and folks knowing what's available. What the parameters are, what works."

It also makes the statistics less daunting.

Brown continued, "I think it's the same thing that starts with anybody who's got a kid who comes home with a report card. Unfortunately, we end up talking about those things that are challenges and need to be worked on better, as opposed to those things that are great and you say well how'd you achieve that?"

Achieve Escambia focuses on four areas: kindergarten readiness, academic success, graduation, and career readiness.

You can see the whole report, as well as their online data dashboard here.

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