Today, for the first time, my youngest child will pull his car out of the garage and drive himself to school – without me in the car.
You would think I would be used to this nerve wracking rite of passage by the third offspring. I did all the right things to try and prepare him but I am not ready.
He indulged me over the last few weeks with reminiscing about our decade and a half in the car together. As a child he was a car seat escape artist, back of the seat kicker and had some special maneuver that would cause my seat belt to tighten fiercely at my neck. There was also a constant refrain of “are we there yet?” from my back seat passenger.
No matter what I had done to prep him for where we were going, what to expect and how long it would take to get there, about 5 minutes into the trip he would launch into the cry of anticipation of arrival. As you can imagine he didn’t ask just once.
No matter our age, I think when we are certain of our destination we are anxious to get there.
As adults we spend time navigating our endpoints. With the help of GPS technology and navigation systems we can pinpoint our exact moment of arrival. But some journeys in life and work are easier to reach than others, which can make estimating “getting there” a bit tougher.
At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation our journey and mission is cultivating sustainable regional change for the common good. We want to help donors and community advocates identify what creates a positive quality of life in Southwest Florida and then design a map that we can follow to get there together.
When it comes to serving our community I don’t think we can ever stop asking if we are there yet. We should never stop considering if we have done all we can for transportation, water quality, education, health, poverty elimination and economic development.
A few weeks ago someone ask me “are we there yet?’ in creating a sustainable region. My answer would have never satisfied my young son in the back seat, but quality of life is never a destination that is permanently reached. We will always be driving toward it, and protecting and stewarding what it takes to create a vibrant region. We can never stop getting there.
But it is important that we create the roadmap, benchmarks and measurements to ensure we are making progress. At the foundation we like to say, “If we can’t measure it, we can’t move it.”
We apply this to everything we do because we want to continue to do and support the things that create progress and let things go that don’t move us in the right direction. It’s like GPS for change.
Every year we support amazing non-profit organizations who are actively trying to “get our region there” through their work in economic, social and environmental causes.
Last year 18 local nonprofits (see the full list on our website) were awarded over a half a million dollars to fund new and existing programs to increase the quality of life in our communities. But they didn’t just take a check and stop there. The leaders met with us as a Tribe for a year to work together to track both their individual and collective progress. Always asking “are we there yet?”
Some of their results include:
- Of the funded reporting nonprofits, nearly 90 percent of the tribe programs demonstrated progress toward the changes desired in the region because of their program (the programs are getting us there and their data confirms it)
- The increase in the amount of collaboration between Foundation-funded nonprofits is 650 percent resulting in 13 collaborative projects between the nonprofit grantees. Examples of these collaborations include Gulf Coast Symphony and the Heights Center’s MusicWorks! program for the after-school children along with Family Initiative and the Alliance for the Arts’ Art for Autism program. (they are finding ways to work together)
- Foundation-funded nonprofits saw an increase from 22.5 to 28.9 percent in knowledge and ability in evaluation skills such as data collection, analysis and reporting. (they can measure their progress and report that back to you)
Check out a great video at the link below to learn more about the results of the work of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Tribes at http://floridacommunity.com/tribes/
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.