Naples is known for its white sandy beaches, pristine waters, serene nature reserves, great shopping and its more than 80 championship golf courses. Touted by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Millionaire Capitals,” this city by the sea is the southern home to some of the country’s wealthiest and most influential people. But there is a dense pocket of need in Naples not many people are aware of. Just 6 miles from one of the richest zip codes in America rests the four-square-mile Naples’ community of Golden Gate City. Contrary to the name, life is not so golden for many that live here.
Students from Golden Gate live in the highest pocket of need in Collier County, outside of Immokalee. Golden Gate City has a higher poverty rate, lower earnings, lower family income and higher rates of unemployment than the rest of the state. Golden Gate High School’s graduation rate at 73 percent is the lowest in all of Collier County, including Immokalee High School.
Golden Gate has a 42 percent higher poverty rate, 23 percent lower earnings, 31 percent lower family income, and a 29 percent higher rate of unemployment than averages in the state of Florida. Research connects poverty to higher risk for poorer cognitive and academic outcomes, lower school attendance, lower test scores, increased distractibility, grade failure and increased high school dropout rates. Over 20 percent of the households have additional relatives or non-related adults living in the household. Almost 18 percent of the households in Golden Gate City are single parent households.
Households suffering from food insecurity are more likely to have children who suffer from anemia; lower nutrient intakes; greater cognitive problems; higher levels of aggression and anxiety; higher probabilities of being hospitalized; poor general health; higher probabilities of dysthymia and other mental health issues; higher probabilities of asthma; higher probabilities of behavioral problems; and more instances of oral health problems. Residents of Golden Gate City live in a food desert. Major grocery chains remain outside this community, so many families rely on smaller local and ethnic food stores, which typically mark up costs and carry fewer fresh produce items. In the past year, Grace Place provided more than 350,000 pounds of food including dairy, meat, and fresh produce, which demonstrates the area’s desperate need for nourishment and health, which are essential for effective learning.
Home Language Other Than English
Almost 50 percent of Golden Gate is first generation immigrants, and almost seven out of ten households do not speak English in the home. There is a 155 percent higher rate of non-English speaking households compared to the rest of the state, and close to one-third of students are Limited English Proficient (LEP). Annual reporting data from Golden Gate Elementary School state that LEP students face serious barriers to success including lack of previous education, heritage literacy, heritage academic skills, inconsistent school attendance, and insufficient parental support (Collier County Public Schools, 2010).
Family Education Levels
US Census data indicate these families are among the least educated at the local and state levels. In one out of every five Golden Gate households, parents have attained less than a ninth grade education, compared to about one out of twenty for the state. Similar disparities exist for high school and college graduates. Golden Gate has a 260 percent higher rate of residents with less than a 9th grade education. Twenty-five percent fewer residents have a high school diploma and 51 percent fewer residents have a college degree. Educational attainment and poverty are also connected; young adults without a high school diploma are more likely to be living in poverty (United States Education Department, 2012).
Limited Access to Early Childhood Education
There are only 571 early childcare slots located in Golden Gate city for the 2,745 children under age 5. Of those early childcare spots, only 135 of those slots are in centers rated high quality (Collier Childcare Resources, Inc., 2013).
Limited Access to Out-of-School-Time Programs
Recent school surveys indicated that over 60 percent of Golden Gate students return home from school to no adult supervision. The lack of adult supervision increases the probability of engaging in risky and aggressive behaviors, taking part in crimes, being injured or victimized and disinterest in education. Collier County Truancy Court data show that students from Golden Gate schools make up 20.5 percent of all youth entering Truancy Court. Of all of the crimes committed by youth in Collier County, 25 percent is committed by youth residing in the 34116 zip code (Golden Gate City).