Why Franklin County?
Franklin County, FL is a sparsely populated county of about 11,500 residents. It is situated on the eastern end of the Florida panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico......on one of the longest stretch of white sand beaches in North America. The area has been called "Florida's Best Kept Secret" and the "Forgotten Coast". With no high rises, Apalachicola still maintains many of its historic homes and charm. Working fleets of shrimp and oyster boats in the waters of Apalachicola, Eastpoint , Carrabelle, Alligator Point and St. George Island speak to the area's longstanding industry of seafood fishing and processing. Apalachicola oysters are a sought after delicacy.
However, the oyster industry was negatively affected by the fear precipated by the Gulf Oil Spill leading to rapid overharvesting. A severe reduction in fresh water reaching the Apalachicola Bay has further reduced oyster growth. Consequently, many residents who have harvested oysters for generations have been brought deeper into poverty. A fire that destroyed 30 homes as well as destruction caused by Hurricane Michael have caused great hardships for families in Franklin and Gulf Counties, where Bring Me A Book Franklin programs provide access to children books through its programs and offers hope for the citizens of the future.
In spite of significant tourism, behind the charm and beauty, Franklin County is plagued by economic distress and pervasive poverty. Over 70 % of the school children qualify for free school lunches. Over 20% of the population in Franklin County live below the poverty line, a number that is higher than the national average of 13.4%. (US Census, 2018) Births to unwed mothers and births to teenagers in the county are significantly higher than the Florida State average.
The level of education of the adult population is low with only 68% having a high school diploma, compared to the state average of 80%. An average of 17% of Franklin County adults function at or below level one literacy, the lowest level of functional illiteracy characterized by adults who are not able to perform the activities of daily living that require basic math or reading skills.
Apalachicola located at the mouth of the Apalachicola River is Franklin County's largest city with a population of 2700. It was a major cotton port at the time of the Civil War, even housing a French Consulate at that time. In recent decades a number of artists, writers and nature lovers have been drawn to the area's charm and beauty and have made it their home.