About Earn to Learn FL™

Earn To Learn FL™ History

In 2011, the Southwest Florida Women’s Foundation incorporated and commissioned academic research on the status of women in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Since then, three facts from the research have guided the nonprofit’s collaborative relationships and investments:   
  • The percentage of woman-owned businesses is lower than the state or national average.   
  • No accurate regional-level data was available in Southwest Florida or across the state of Florida.  
  • Both men and women over the age of 25 have lower than average education attainment rates. 
 2013: The nonprofit became Florida’s first Kiva Trustee to beta test micro-lending in the United States. A micro-loan fund was established to support small business start-ups or expansions. Subsequently, Business Building Blocks (B3) for Women was developed to train entrepreneurs to start or expand a small business. B3 was licensed to Women’s Funding Network in 2017 for national distribution.

2014: The nonprofit formed a partnership with the SWFL Human Trafficking Task Force to increase public awareness and develop a data driven tool to quantify the problem of human trafficking. The data collection project was tested and proven with the participation of Task Force members.

2014: A partnership was formed with the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Task Force to increase public awareness and develop a data driven tool to quantify the problem of human trafficking. The data collection project was tested and proven with the participation of Task Force members. 

2016: Seed funds from a federal grant launched Earn to Learn FL™. The initiative has grown from an initial $100,000 grant to over $1million invested in educational attainment for hard working, but income challenged, students.

2018: The human trafficking data collection project was transferred to the State Attorney’s Office of the 20th Circuit and the SWFL Human Trafficking Task Force for long-term growth and geographic expansion.

2019: The nonprofit’s Board of Directors adopted an exclusive Earn to Learn FL™ focus, with re-naming and re-branding now complete. Earn to Learn FL™ is a revolutionary ‘savings to financial assistance’ program that empowers low to moderate income students in Florida to successfully complete higher education through matched-savings, personal finance training, and success coaching. The goal is for Earn to Learn FL™ students to graduate on time, student debt free, and career ready.

Eligible students who complete the personal finance training program and establish a habit of savings by making a minimum of six consecutive deposits totaling $500 in an Earn to Learn FL™ savings account can receive an 8:1 match on their savings, up to $4,000 per academic year. These funds can be applied to tuition and tuition-related costs. It is designed to provide students with the opportunity, incentive, education and support critical to become a successful college student.  

The program is supported by financial institutions, businesses, nonprofits, educators, credit counselors and others committed to enhancing the economic well-being of Florida communities. These organizations recognize that higher education is the primary mechanism of upward economic mobility for low-income individuals and is essential to reducing poverty and improving local communities. 

Earn to Learn FL™ has caught the attention of policy makers, legislators, educators, founders and change agents across Florida as a model program for changing the face of needs-based financial aid and giving families a pathway out of poverty through college education. 


Earn To Learn FL™ History

In 2011, the Southwest Florida Women’s Foundation incorporated and commissioned academic research on the status of women in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Since then, three facts from the research have guided the nonprofit’s collaborative relationships and investments:   
  • The percentage of woman-owned businesses is lower than the state or national average.   
  • No accurate regional-level data was available in Southwest Florida or across the state of Florida.  
  • Both men and women over the age of 25 have lower than average education attainment rates.  
  2013: The Foundation became Florida’s first Kiva Trustee to beta test microlending in the United States.  A micro-loan fund was established to support small business start-ups or expansions. Subsequently, Business Building Blocks (B3) for Women was developed to train entrepreneurs to start or expand a small business. B3 was licensed to Women’s Funding Network in 2017 for national distribution. 

2014: A partnership was formed with the Southwest Florida Human Trafficking Task Force to increase public awareness and develop a data driven tool to quantify the problem of human trafficking. The data collection project was tested and proven with the participation of Task Force members. 

 In 2018, the data collection project was transferred to the State Attorney’s Office of the 20th Circuit and the SWFL Human Trafficking Task Force for long-term growth and expansion.   

2016: Seed funds from a federal grant launched Earn to Learn FL™. The initiative has grown from an initial $100,000 grant to over $1 million to be invested in educational attainment for hard working, but income challenged students.

 In 2019 the Foundation decided to focus exclusively on Earn to Learn FL™.   Earn to Learn FL™ is a revolutionary “savings to financial aid” program that empowers low- to moderate-income students in Florida to successfully complete college through matched-savings, financial capability education, and success coaching.  

Eligible students who complete the personal finance training program and establish a habit of savings by making a minimum of six consecutive deposits totaling $500 in an Earn to Learn FL™ savings account can receive an 8:1 match on their savings, up to $4,000 per academic year. These funds can be applied to tuition and tuition-related costs. It is designed to provide students with the opportunity, incentive, education and support critical to become a successful college student.  

The program is supported by financial institutions, businesses, nonprofits, educators, credit counselors and others committed to enhancing the economic well-being of Florida communities. These organizations recognize that higher education is the primary mechanism of upward economic mobility for low-income individuals and is essential to reducing poverty and improving local communities. 

Earn to Learn FL™ has caught the attention of policy makers, legislators, educators, founders and change agents across Florida as a model program for changing the face of needs-based financial aid and giving families a pathway out of poverty through college education.