Time to invest in community's future

May 23, 2017

As a long-time Pensacola resident, I feel that we all have a responsibility to support the education and economic independence of those raised here. I am proud to be one of the many who are partnering with Achieve Escambia, an exciting effort aimed at improving the educational and financial outcomes for our friends and families, from cradle to career. Achieve Escambia is a collective impact approach to improving educational outcomes in our area.

When our team at Cox Communications learned about Achieve Escambia, we were excited! The vision,“Every generation achieves success — cradle to career,” aligns with our company’s focus on elevating the educational experience locally. Achieve Escambia’s mission “To align community resources so everyone is empowered to achieve success” has the potential to drastically improve outcomes and opportunities for generations to come.

The importance of investing in our community

Whether it’s through our Connect2Compete program offering low-cost internet for families on free and reduced lunch, our diversity initiatives, or our involvement in the community, Cox believes in the importance of investing our resources right here at home. There’s a strong, growing list of organizations that are supporting Achieve Escambia’s efforts to align resources to improve educational and career opportunities and we believe that collectively, if we all work towards a common goal, we CAN make a difference in our community. We liken it to fish swimming together in a school or birds in a flock: there is efficiency in working together.

You might wonder why a business or other local group would want to invest in an effort like this. Education effects so many in our community, but is very challenging to affect change as individual partners. And because such an important change doesn’t happen overnight, those of us involved with Achieve Escambia realize there is no quick, magic formula, and that’s why we’re focused on the long-term approach.

What is the long term approach?

Social service programs can help children, adults and families in a variety of ways. Yet Achieve wants to know how can we measure success to achieve a greater impact if all were operating independently? That’s what the partners in Achieve Escambia’s Kindergarten Readiness Collective Action Network (CAN) are working to define this summer. They have met to learn about the many organizations and programs in Escambia County that are providing services to children ages 0-5. They are identifying bright spots and the gaps in that work. Then they’re determining what we can do better as a community to align our efforts so that more of our students can begin kindergarten ready to learn.

At Cox, we care deeply about education because education and our local economy are interconnected. The children of today are the workforce of tomorrow! Research shows, when our children are ready for kindergarten, they become more likely to be prepared for academic success, high school graduation, career readiness, and they are inevitably set on for a path that will lead to their economic success — cradle to career. We all win when we invest in this long-term approach.

An investment in our community’s future

It wasn’t that long ago when communities like ours looked to improve student success and career readiness by asking educators to do more to improve results. The more we learn about student performance, the easier it is to understand why educators can’t do it alone. In order to have the best chance at success, young people not only need guidance and support from teachers, non-profits, families and the community as a whole, but they need all of those efforts to be aligned.

That’s where movements like Achieve Escambia come in. The collective impact model used by Achieve Escambia is a proven method to align efforts. When working together, we accelerate the pace of our success and ultimately, improve long term outcomes.

Whether it is making financial contributions, volunteering or aligning efforts, groups from across our community are seeing the importance of investing in our community’s future. Achieve Escambia is not here to compete with any of the talented and dedicated program providers for volunteer time or financial support. Rather, Achieve Escambia is working to bring these groups together, to create a unified vision, a shared strategy and an open forum for collective action.

What does this mean for Escambia County?

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. We recently launched our updated website, and we encourage everyone to check it out: AchieveEscambia .org.

In order for this effort to be successful, we all need to invest. Whether it’s time, talent or treasure, our community’s future success is based on the work being done today. This is an exciting and dynamic time we’re living in,, and our current and future generations need us to get to work now to make sure they have the best opportunity at a better tomorrow. I hope you or your organization join the Achieve Escambia movement to help our community achieve success.

David Deliman is market vice president at Cox Communications and a member of Achieve Escambia’s Leadership Council.