LaBelle partners to connect adults to postsecondary education and jobs

Posted 4/12/24

Collaboratory is excited to announce that the City of LaBelle has been selected to join the Municipal...

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LaBelle partners to connect adults to postsecondary education and jobs


FORT MYERS — Collaboratory is excited to announce that the City of LaBelle has been selected to join the Municipal Action Cohort: Connecting Adults to Postsecondary and Workforce Success.

This new peer-learning cohort is led by the National League of Cities (NLC) and CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) to accelerate city efforts to design, develop, and launch an initiative to connect adults to postsecondary educational opportunities that lead to good jobs.

LaBelle’s application stood out from a competitive field and demonstrated a commitment to connecting adults with postsecondary educational opportunities that lead to high quality jobs.

“We are excited to be chosen for this opportunity. Being the smallest in terms of population and geography, LaBelle is honored to be included amongst some well-known national cities,” said Keitha Daniels, director, Hendry County Economic Development Council. “Our team of stakeholders have been working together over the past year and half to evaluate our post-secondary systems and we believe this grant will allow us to take that work to the next level.”

The Connecting Adults to Postsecondary and Workforce Success initiative will work with municipalities teams, led by the City of LaBelle’s Mayor Julie Wilkins, to spur innovative and scalable city-supported solutions to holistically support adults through the completion of credentials and on the path to high quality jobs.

In 2022, Hendry County and FutureMakers Coalition at Collaboratory was chosen by CivicLab as one of five rural partnerships across the U.S. to participate in a two-year initiative to improve higher education and workforce systems. Supported by Ascendium Education Group, FutureMakers Coalition received training, technical assistance and direct financial support valued at $150,000 to develop and implement system-level strategies that create pathways to prosperity for low-income learners.

This previous collaboration through the CivicLab’s Building Rural Learning Systems work was the foundation to bring partners together to apply for the NLC’s opportunity including the City of Labelle, Hendry County EDC, Hendry County School District Adult Ed, FGCU, FSW and CareerSource SWFL.

“All Americans deserve access to good jobs,” said Clarence Anthony, NLC CEO and executive director. “We’re thrilled to work alongside cities and their postsecondary partners in developing ecosystems of support for adult students to complete credentials that will enable them to high quality jobs.”

“The Municipal Action Cohort is a stellar example of why CAEL prioritizes partnerships that engage stakeholders throughout education-employment ecosystems,” said Earl Buford, CAEL president. “Complementary collaboration maximizes individual, regional, and systemic capacity to connect adult learners and workers with education and training pathways that sustain rewarding careers, equitable economic mobility, and community prosperity. We are grateful for the support of the Kresge Foundation and Strada Education Foundation and look forward to working with our colleagues at the National League of Cities, city leaders, postsecondary educators and trainers, and the many other workforce partners dedicated to making this partnership a success.”

“As the City continues to grow and attract new residents and businesses, new employment opportunities will become available and we want to make sure our residents have the skill sets to acquire those positions. At the same time, we want to make LaBelle a sought-after destination for businesses looking to relocate to our community,” added Daniels.

LaBelle is joined by three other cities: Abilene, TX, Tampa, FL and Waco, TX. The program will run through 2025.

FutureMakers Coalition is a regional collective impact initiative that has been designated a Talent Hub by Lumina Foundation in partnership with The Kresge Foundation to support local efforts to increase educational attainment. Formed in 2015 around existing regional collaborations, the Coalition is committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners. FutureMakers Coalition was one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment and is a member of the National Talent Network. Collaboratory provides backbone/administrative support to FutureMakers Coalition.

FutureMakers Coalition encourages businesses to join and invest in sustaining this community-changing initiative by visiting or emailing Tessa LeSage at

FutureMakers Coalition, labelle, jobs, training, adults, postsecondary, workforce