HENDRY COUNTY — A group of stay-at-home moms, working moms, college professors, environmentalists, social justice advocates and other Hendry County residents from throughout LaBelle to Clewiston have come together to form a group called Hendry Rising. They are hoping to gather anyone who wants to help build on the already great accomplishments of past community leaders, and as a complement to the great work that has already been started, to continue to grow and improve the quality of life in the community.
“There is much to love about Hendry County: the beautiful scenery, quaint downtowns, small businesses, the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee, abundant wildlife, friendly people and small-town vibe. Hendry Rising is a group of community members who want to build on those qualities in ways that will strengthen the community now and for future generations,” said one of the group’s founders, Brandon Jett.
“While we know what is great about the county, there are many ways that we can engage our communities to make this county that much better. Hendry Rising is committed to fostering a better quality of life in Hendry County by promoting educational opportunities and civic engagement in the larger hopes of encouraging growth, equality and peace in the community.”
Jett, a history professor at Florida SouthWestern State College, suggested that for Hendry Rising’s first order of business, they should establish a scholarship that honors the life and legacy of Selma Daniels, a pioneer in the education of Hendry’s Black community. Selma Daniels is a local historical icon, who established the Daniels Academy.
“She played a vital role in the education of young people in our county during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Yet, as with so many black schools after integration, her school eventually closed its doors. This scholarship fund will be an enduring recognition of and testament to a woman of extraordinary courage, a leader in our community, and a teacher in the truest sense of the word,” explained Jett. “The Selma Daniels Scholarship will offset the cost of tuition for students pursuing the Bachelor of Science Degree in elementary education at Florida SouthWestern State College’s Hendry/Glades Curtis Center to promote teachers to become certified and encourage young people to become future educators in Hendry County.”
Jett went on to explain: “As so many others in Hendry County, Selma Daniels cared deeply for the children of this community and did all she could to ensure their future successes. Well-trained teachers and a high-performing education system are essential to the success of children, the growth of the local economy, increasing property values and one of the best ways to promote equity for future generations.”
“While Hendry County residents have demonstrated their willingness to go above and beyond to help schools through fundraisers and teacher appreciation events, there is still plenty of work that can be done to help our schools continue to improve. One area in need of improvement is teacher certification,” he added. “Teacher certification ensures that our educators are well versed in the best educational practices to allow our students to flourish. Attaining certification will also increase the salaries of those teachers. Currently, almost 30 percent of teachers working in our schools are uncertified or have temporary certification.”
The founding members of Hendry Rising have set up this scholarship, so to make this scholarship a reality, and honor Selma Daniels’s legacy — while continuing to improve our local school system, the goal is to raise $50,000 over the next five years to fully finance one student’s tuition each year. All contributions are tax-deductible. While onetime donations are much appreciated, we are also encouraging donors to consider making a monthly donation of just $25 over the five-year period.
To contribute online:
• Go to https://foundation.fsw.edu/
• Click on “Give Now” button at the top of the page
• Enter your information
Important to note:
• Under “Designation” please select “OTHER”
• In the box below, please write in “Selma Daniels Education Scholarship”
• If you would like to make a recurring gift, select the “recurring gift” box and then select how frequently you would like to donation to occur
• Fill out the FSW Foundation donor form
• Write out check
Make all checks payable to FSW Foundation
On the memo of check write “Selma Daniels Education Scholarship”
• Mail Check and donor form to FSW Foundation, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33919. For donations of non-cash gifts (securities, etc.): Please call FSW Foundation at 239-489-9210.
Bequest/will or trust/legacy gifts: Please call FSW Foundation at 239-489-9210, and add the Tax ID # 59-6173638.
If you would like to speak with someone from the FSW Foundation, please contact: Kyle Hartman: 239-477-3551.