Florida’s Chamber of Commerce launches program to target children in poverty

The state’s chamber of commerce is launching the Florida Equality of Opportunity Initiative.

The plan could make Florida the tenth largest economy in the world by 2030.

The goals of the initiative are to cut the number of children living in poverty by half while also 100% of Florida’s third-graders reading at or above their grade level. The chamber is also hoping to diversify the workplace.

More than 800,000 children in Florida are living in poverty while less than 60% of third-graders are reading at grade level.

Another goal is to ask others to step up to the plate and help out.

To do this, the Florida Chamber of Commerce wants to get community business leaders to be involved and show their local students what it takes to be successful.

To target what students needs to be successful, they’re using technology to help identify what resources will be the most useful in certain communities.

“In some communities, it’s going to be access to health care and diagnosing developmental disabilities. In some communities, it’s going to be access to an affordable after-school program. In some communities, it’s going to be access to resources in the classroom, or maybe English as a second language,” said Kyle Baltuch, Florida Chamber Foundation. “And when you diagnose those unique problems, instead of putting out blanket solutions, you’re really able to attack the cause. And that’s when you see dramatic impacts.”

A Florida Chamber Foundation Research Team is studying areas and developing a scorecard of needs.

GAIL:

It will track everything from childhood poverty, poverty rates and housing costs. Then it will break down even more to the county level, them down to zip codes.

The team uses Census data and data from the Florida Department of Education.

” Now we understand in Charlotte County, the issues might be slightly different than in Lee County,” Baltuch said. “We understand in 33983, the issues are going to be slightly different than they are right across the street in proper Punta Gorda. And in doing so we can really not only map the challenges, but map the resources needed and work with the business community to ensure those resources are distributed to the communities in need.”

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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