CAUSE & EFFECT: March 2017 issue

CAUSE & EFFECT: March 2017 issue

March 2017 issue
Milestones like these make us smile
Sarah Owen, Pres & CEO
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Women’s Legacy Fund is celebrating its 10 Year Anniversary this year.  That’s 10 years of grants to nonprofits providing education, inspiration and empowerment to women and girls.

By working together, WLF contributors have funded programs designed to improve literacy, employment skills, neighborhood services, career planning, mentoring and suicide prevention.

The 10 year anniversary will mark over $150,000 in grants a $642,000.00 endowment fund, 46 Prima Donors, hundreds of contributors and dozens of Angels. (see our website to learn more about these special women)

We also celebrate the recent addition of Impact Dunbar, a fund focused on the women and girls in the Dunbar community.

We invite you to celebrate with us. If you’re not yet a contributor, it’s not too late – give today (information is featured below) then join us at our WLF Contributors Luncheon on Friday, April 7th.

We will review the latest research and face-to-face conversations with women and girls
 in the region. All contributors will then have a “voice in the choice” on the cause area we as a group of collective philanthropists will address this year. And of course, we will celebrate 10 great years together.  I hope to see you there!

In Gratitude,
Women’s Legacy Fund Contributors Luncheon – April 7
It’s not too late to RSVP

Don’t miss the spring WLF Contributors luncheon on Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club located at 14500 Vista River Drive in Fort Myers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the complimentary luncheon is for WLF contributors and Prima Donors.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

The luncheon will include facilitated discussions around the three grant focus areas selected by the WLF grants committee including:

  • STEM programs/vocational training for women and girls
  • Micro-lending programs for women
  • Business/market support for women.
Contributors to WLF contribute a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.
RSVP and/or Contribute Here
If you are a contributor, luncheon reservations are required by March 28 by calling Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900 or click here to RSVP.

If you’d like to become a Contributor, click here. Please call us with any questions about becoming part of the Women’s Legacy Fund at 239-274-5900.

Spring art exhibit “Fresh Aire” to electrify the Community Hub
Join us for the opening reception – April 5

Aglow by Artist Judi Ekholm

Beginning April 6, “Fresh Aire” will feature an adventure in color through the paintings inspired by artist Judi Ekholm’s road journey through 11 national parks and 21 states.
Ekholm focuses on different vantage points, and her technique is similar the Old Masters with many layers of fine paint and glazing. Her images of landscapes and gardens are both romantic and bold. She creates all sizes and scales of paintings, and each one makes its own original and unique statement. Her impressionistic paintings can be found in more than 700 international collections.
The exhibit is open to the public and will run through May during regular Community Foundation business hours: Monday through Friday. Some paintings are located in meeting rooms, so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible. The Community Hub at the Foundation is located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers. 

Meet the Artist and Preview the Exhibit – RSVP here

Please join us for the Fresh Aire Art Reception on Wednesday, April 5, 5 to 7 p.m. at The Community Hub.  Click here to RSVP

2016 Grantees Outcome Report
Video outlines work of 2016 “Tribes” 

Tribes Report on video
“Because if you can measure it,
you can move it”

The 18 local nonprofits granted $551,500 in 2016 from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s available Field of Interest funds as well as individual and corporate donations, have reported their annual outcomes.
The established and new programs funded by last year’s grants were designed to increase the quality of life in sustainable and equitable ways for Southwest Floridians.
  • Of the funded reporting nonprofits, nearly 90 percent of the tribe programs demonstrated progress toward the changes nonprofits desired in the region because of their program 
  • 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. 
  • In Lee County, Gulf Coast Symphony’s free Music Works! program at the Heights Center provides an innovative education and social initiative that creates opportunities for personal development in children (grades K-2) through the study of music. 
  • 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. 
Learn more about the results of the work of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Tribes through the video featuring the Tribes at work at
Kresge Foundation grants FutureMakers $50,000 challenge — PASS IT ALONG!

The FutureMakers Coalition was recently awarded a $50,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation as part of its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI). A $10,000 grant was also awarded for administration costs and backbone support.
The grant will be awarded after the Coalition raises $50,000 in additional private donations by 
Jan. 31, 2018. Anyone interested in learning more about the grant or investing in the FutureMakers Coalition may visit
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage.

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by the year 2025. The Coalition plans to use the challenge grant funding to continue to advance regional outcomes and efforts that support the Florida Higher Education Coordination Council’s statewide goal of 55 percent higher education attainment.

Florida Repertory Theatre establishes endowment fund 

The Florida Repertory Theatre’s board of directors recently established a nonprofit agency endowment fund with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. 

Established by nonprofit organizations, Nonprofit Agency Endowment Funds are long-term funds that allow an agency to plan for the future needs of the organization.

Because the funds are endowed, agencies like Florida Rep can take advantage of the Community Foundation’s financial management, administrative resources and expertise on planned giving. The fund provides a simple and effective way for charities to build endowment and therefore sustainability. Agencies can opt to receive annual payout based on the balance of the fund as a source of income for operations and programs or roll over the amount to increase future endowment.

CAUSE & EFFECT: January 2017 issue

CAUSE & EFFECT: January 2017 issue

January 2017 issue
Happy “NEWS” Year
Sarah Owen, Pres & CEO
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Perhaps you are still getting used to writing or even saying “2017,” but the calendar doesn’t wait and things are off to a great start in the community and the Foundation.

Check out what’s been in the news so far this year:

News-Press People of the Year

  • One of our Foundation’s founders John Sheppard has been selected as the News-Press’ prestigious Luminary for 2016. 
  • Community Foundation trustee Carolyn Conant has been tapped as a TrailBlazer.
  • One of our fundholders and up and coming “Millennials” Marc Devisse is a nominee for Young Professional of the Year. 
  • Fundholders and change-makers Jerry and Sharon Miller are recognized as Heros. 
  • Grantees Heights Foundation’s Kathryn Kelly, Family Initiative’s David Brown and Anjali Van Drie and Valerie’s House’s Angela Melvin are also selected for honors.
From this exclusive list, I would say that we are “Southwest Florida Strong” with such passionate people involved.  (Click here to read more about People of the Year on the News-Press website.)

We announced our newest grantee tribe and they are meeting with us for the first time as a group this afternoon. Stay tuned for more detail on this online and in the news.

FutureMakers and New Funds Opened

Activities in FutureMakers Coalition, a regional coalition that we provide backbone support with the goal to transform the workforce by increasing the number of college degrees and post-secondary certifications by 2025 is strong (, our scholarship season launched this week, and we are geared up for a season of events and programs with our donors, partners and friends. We are still enjoying a record season of opening new funds and welcoming new invigorated donors to the foundation. And that simply means more good for our region.

Train Depot
We finalized our partnerships with the Florida Community Loan Fund and the City of Fort Myers to start the Midtown New Market Tax Credits project breaking ground on the Atlantic Railroad Train Depot renovation and collaboration accelerator  project this February. (read more here

2017 has been something we have been planning for and with your support and partnership, we are ready for a great year ahead.  Join us!

In Gratitude,

THANK YOU to our Referring Professional Advisors

Gift ideas are only limited by causes.  Board Chair Guy Whitesman shows his enthusiasm at a recent reception with donors and friends.

We often say we are better together when working with our donors, friends, partners and supporters. Our referring professional advisers put an exclamation point on that statement. They are those who are estate planning attorneys, bankers, accountants, and wealth advisers who refer their clients to us for philanthropic (and sometimes tax solutions) for current and future gifts.

MANY THANKS the following for all of your support this past year:
  • Lowell Schoenfeld, Green, Schoenfeld & Kyle LLP
  • Michael Stone, CPA, Freedom Tax & Financial Group
  • A. Scott White, Scott White Advisors
  • Kelly Fayer, PA, The Law Office of Kelly Fayer
  • LaDonna J. Cody, PA, Attorney
  • Andrew Barnette, CPA, Andrew Barnette & Associates
  • Juan D. Bendeck, Partner, Hahn Loeser Attorneys at Law
  • Jay Brett, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A.
  • Terri Alsept, Northern Trust Bank
  • Mary Beth Crawford and Grace Guittierez, Cummings & Lockwood (Bonita office)
  • Guy Whitesman and Eric Gurgold, Henderson Franklin (Fort Myers office)
  • William Horowitz, Cummings & Lockwood
  • Marc Reisman, RS Wealth Management
  • Pavita Sandhu, Regions Bank
  • Renee Porter-Medley, Key Bank
  • Craig Folk, CPA, Miller, Helms & Folk, PA
  • Danielle Lucht, Alliance Financial Group
  • Hugh Kinsey, Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill, P.A.
  • Steven “Rusty” Whitley, CPA, Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English, PA
  • Trevor Whitley, Marquis Wealth Group
  • Sandy Robinson (retired) Northern Trust Bank
  • Dave Owens, Midland IRA
  • Fran Payson, Merrill Lynch
  • Jennifer Hammond, Green, Schoenfeld & Kyle LLP
  • Charlotte Hause, Charlotte State Bank & Trust
Donors, we are happy to work your professional adviser on your philanthropic planning. It’s among our most favorite things to do.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation 
Fund established to support causes that were important to local woman

Jordan Ashley Gutheim
The Gutheim family has established the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation Fund in memory of Jordan Gutheim, a 20-year-old graduate of Evangelical Christian School and a junior at Florida State University, who was killed in a car accident on May 12, 2016.
According to her family, Jordan was passionate about animal safety, seniors and helping those in need in impoverished countries like Dominican Republic. They plan for the fund to support efforts including no-kill animal shelters, seniors facing dementia, humanitarian mission trips, driver safety and family services. The family also plans to fund an annual scholarship at FSU.
Born in Fort Myers, Jordan was known for her fun and loving spirit, her happiness, sensitivity and interest in going out of her way to help others.
“We are the Community Foundation, and community is what we are all about,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We want to be here for the members of our community so that we can provide support for philanthropy and building legacy.
The Gutheims are an important part of our Foundation family and we look forward to walking alongside them in making meaningful and effective grants in Jordan’s memory.”

To give directly to the fund in Jordan’s memory, please click here.

Legacy Society Events Upcoming

It’s our favorite time of the year when we get to spend it 
with our Legacy Society members, those who have a fund with the Foundation or have planned to establish a fund in their estate.  We have three great outings planned for January and February including receptions, evenings at with the Gulf Coast Symphony and at a theatre matinee with Florida Rep.

If you have not received your invitation OR if you have not RSVP’d, please call Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900.

We can’t wait to see you at the reception and enjoy music and the arts together.

Scholarship Season Opens with $500,000 available 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s scholarship application process for the 2017-2018 school year will begin this month.
Approximately $500,000 in scholarship money is available through more than 50 scholarships for local high school students, undergraduate and graduate students from Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties.

Our scholarship portal opened on Jan. 16 and students may apply for scholarships here here.
  The scholarship application process will close March 3.

Students may review the scholarships available online as well as a tutorial about how to create and submit the online application. Students may apply for multiple scholarships and upload transcripts, SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation and the FAFSA student aid report. 
Educators, mentors, parents and students can find resources to complete the FAFSA form through the local FAFSA first website recently launched by the FutureMakers Coalition at

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by the year 2025. 
CAUSE & EFFECT: Holiday 2016 issue

CAUSE & EFFECT: Holiday 2016 issue

Holiday 2016 issue
‘Tis the Season, and the Reason
Sarah Owen, Pres & CEO
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
As we wrap up the year filled with generosity and hard work on the part of all of our supporters, friends, trustees and partners, our team reflects on so much we ALL have to be grateful for. And together we wish you and yours an abundance of peace, love and joy this holiday season.
With our eye on the holidays, our team encouraged me to share a piece that will be featured in this week’s Florida Weekly (Fort Myers and Bonita Springs issues).  
To be able to give is such a privilege…. 
Thank you for being part of our mission.
In Gratitude,
Holiday Dinners, Dolls and Dignity

Holiday giving is heartwarming.  There are so many opportunities to reach out into the community and do something generous for a neighbor.
I don’t think there is any easier time of year to jump right into the act of giving.  Walk into the grocery store and drop some bills into an iconic red kettle, stand in the checkout line and donate a turkey, adopt a child or a senior citizen from an angel tree and select a gift to make their holiday brighter. 
Join with others from your neighborhood or workplace and provide a special holiday for a family that is struggling, donate toys to a local toy drive or food to an animal shelter, smile at a busy shopper who might look to be having a bad day, the chances to reach out are abundant.
These things make us feel great and connect us to our fellow man.  Most of the time we never meet those that we intend to comfort and help this time of year.
That kind of relationship building happens at the nonprofit level with caring case managers, cause area specialists, and volunteers. These are the folks working on the front lines of need and opportunity and create a special combination of resources and compassion.
If we are on the giving side of things it can be easy to unintentionally get caught up in the emotion of how we feel about our donation and lose site of the receiver.  Research continually points to the physical and emotional benefits of generosity, but that is only one side of the story.
I learned this lesson several years ago when I joined a group of friends and colleagues to provide a full-on holiday experience to a family that had faced a particularly tough year financially. 
Running Out of Gift Ideas? 
Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Gift ideas are only limited by causes

Have someone special on your holiday list who is tough to buy for? Consider a donation to a cause or to the community in their honor.

It’s easy.  You can go online, make a contribution and provide your tough-to-buy-for friend or family member’s address and we will send the lucky person a customized gift recognition card with the information or message you would like us to include. 

We never include the gift amount!  

No standing in line, nothing to return.  Just a warm feeling that giving brings to the giver and the receiver.  

Click here to start your gift list now.
Become an Important Part of our Work – Give to the Founder’s Society

We invite you to become part of the Community Foundation’s Founder’s Society, a giving program in honor of our 40th Anniversary that supports the work of the foundation in the community.  We appreciate all the support of our donors who inspire us every day to keep doing our change-making work in the community providing collective leadership, serving as concierges of philanthropy, providing capacity building to nonprofits, and doing research in the region and measuring outcomes of programs.  Click here to give to our work.

This May Be the Best Time Ever to Open a Donor Advised Fund
As PEOTUS Pushes for Lower Tax Rates, Now is the Time to Act

CLICK HERE to download the
Guide to Giving
If the new administration succeeds in their efforts to lower tax rates, the tax deduction for charitable giving could become less valuable as soon as next year, according to Time Magazine (online at

With a Donor Advised Fund, you can make a contribution now and take your time to decide how much and to which organizations you wish to give.
It only takes 5 minutes to establish and if done by December 31st, you will receive a current year receipt.
There are no minimums to establish a Donor Advised Fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  Customize a fund YOUR way. Read more about ways to give by clicking here.
Wide Open Spaces Art Exhibit Closes January 13
“Wide Open Spaces” the Community Foundation’s art exhibit features the Florida outdoors through the eyes of local artists Martin Gembecki, of Buckingham, and
Brad Phares, of Okeechobee.
“Fish House” by Martin Gembeck
The exhibit features scenes from rural Florida from farmland to lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
The exhibit is open to the public and will run through January 13 during regular Community Foundation business hours: Monday -Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Some photos are located in meeting rooms so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible. The Community Hub is located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers.  239-274-5900.

Year-End Giving Ideas – We Make it So Easy!
Making a year-end gift is so easy. We’d like to make it even easier with simple ways you may be able to save and give. 

Of course giving is more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. You can give your time, your talent as well as your treasure to an organization or organizations you care about.

This is just a brief outline of options of how you can give through the SWFL Community Foundation, and the ways we can help you express your philanthropy.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving.  Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significantly reduce their current income taxes for 2016.
Example: if you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2016, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you’re in the 33% tax bracket.  And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift.

We urge you to discuss your 2016 year-end tax planning with your account and other professional advisor.

Holiday Hours
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation office will be closed in observance of Christmas on Monday, December 26, and in observance of New Year’s Day on Monday, January 2, 2017.

CAUSE & EFFECT: OCTOBER / November 2016

CAUSE & EFFECT: OCTOBER / November 2016

Oct./Nov. 2016 issue

Falling for Our Community

It’s so exciting to see our seasonal friends return from their summers up north and out west.  With their return, we start to see more and and more happenings in the community.  At the Community Foundation, it’s no exception.  We are ramping up for our Community Impact Grants review and the Compassionate Shark Tank so we can award resources to our nonprofit partners focused on improving the quality of life in our community. 
Just yesterday we held our fall Women’s Legacy Fund luncheon (see more below on the WLF grant), presented the first grant from the LGBT Fund of Southwest Florida on behalf of the contributors who established the fund, and we are preparing scholarship funds for the upcoming season starting in January.  We also look forward to celebrating National Philanthropy Month in November with lots of Year-End Giving messages about easy ways to give to the things you care about most.  But you don’t have to wait, you can give us a call any time because we pride ourselves on being your ongoing concierge of philanthropy.
Our annual report is on the layout table and we can’t wait to share our 2016 recordbreaking results with you. It’s because of you and so many others in the community that we are able to do so much good work. Together we are a force for good!
Thank you for reading.
In Gratitude,


FutureMakers Report to the Community

Last month we coordinated the annual FutureMakers Coalition Champions meeting


where Champions Team co-chairs Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, of FGCU, Mary Beth Geier, of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and Scott Fischer, of Scott Fischer Enterprises, pulled together the Champions Team consisting of area CEOs, educators, municipalities, business and community leaders, to discuss the work of the coalition this past year. The FutureMakers Report to the Community was presented.  Click here to read: FutureMakers Coalition Report to the Community.
Women’s Legacy Fund Grant Presented to FGCU Program for Young Women & Girls
Tina Parker, Nina Paight (left) and Christina Harris Schwinn and Jane deLisser (far right) of the WLF Grants Committee presented a $20,000 check to Dr. Laura Frost
and Lindsey of FGCU.
At a packed house during the Women’s Legacy Fund luncheon yesterday, the WLF, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, granted $20,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Whitaker Center for STEM Education.
The Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) program will use the funding to mentor and inspire female FGCU students and middle school girls in Southwest Florida to pursue STEM careers by providing hands-on, inquiry driven STEM activities via expertise at Whitaker Center for STEM Education at FGCU. The program’s approach involves multiple layers of mentoring including Whitaker Center mentoring during the activity development, FGCU female faculty mentoring of FGCU female STEM majors, and FGCU STEM majors mentoring middle school students. Four Saturday events are planned to reach a total of 400 middle-school girls, 84 FGCU STEM majors, and 24 middle school teacher participants. To read more, click here.  And if you’re interested in learning more about the Women’s Legacy Fund, please click here or call Carolyn Rogers or Andrea McKiddie at 239-274-5900.



Region’s First Multi-donor LGBT Fund Gives First Grant to the Laboratory Theater
Shawn Williams, Julie Thompson, Covey Davis, Ron Penn, Annette Trossbach and Kate Dirrigl, of the Lab Theater, and Arlene Goldman
pose at the $18,000 check presented to the Laboratory Theater


The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, has awarded its first grant on behalf of the fund’s contributors.
Donors of $250 or more to the fund this year were given a vote for the grant focus area which was: Suicide Prevention.
Presented during the Annual Tied with Pride Gala on Friday, October 7 the $18,000 LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida grant was presented to Laboratory Theater’s “Staging Teen Success Through Theater” program. This mentorship-based theater program connects youth ages 13 to 18 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with successful LGBT adults within the theater community and licensed counselors. These mentors will support and nurture youth while they learn to better understand themselves and theater through research and development of plays, playwriting and scene study. For more information on the LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida, visit



Wide Open Spaces Theme of Fall Art Exhibit

Beginning Nov. 4, “Wide Open Spaces” the Community Foundation’s fall exhibit will feature the Florida outdoors through the eyes of local artists Martin Gembecki, of Buckingham, and Brad Phares, of Okeechobee.
“Fish House” by Martin Gembecki
The exhibit will feature scenes from rural Florida from farmland to lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. 


Exhibit Reception
Thursday, Nov. 3
Call fomore information, 
239-274-5900 or email [email protected]


The exhibit is open to the public and will run through mid-January during regular Community Foundation business hours: Monday -Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Some photos are located in meeting rooms so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible. The Community Hub is located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers.

An Evening of Appreciation for our Professional Advisors

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently hosted appreciation receptions for its professional advisors network in Naples and Fort Myers.

Community Foundation President and CEO Sarah Owen welcomed guests and thanked them for their support, guidance and introductions this past year during the receptions hosted at the home of Foundation Chairman Guy Whitesman and his wife, Ilene Saffron, in Fort Myers and the office of Trustee Juan Bendeck, Hahn Loeser & Parks, LLP in Naples.

“Our professional advisors are instrumental in introducing their clients to us and we want to continue to be their resource in assisting their clients when seeking resources and causes for philanthropy in the region,” said Owen.

Brian Herrick, Dominika Honisch, Charlette & Ernie Hatch, John Sheppard, Sarah Owen, Juan Bendeck, Guy Whitesman and Ilene Saffron
Announcing an Exciting New Fund: Impact Dunbar
IMPACT DUNBAR Founders Tasheekia Perry and Karen Watson are shown here with SWFL Community Foundation CEO Sarah Owen
The IMPACT Dunbar Fund was announced at the Women’s Legacy Fund luncheon today as a new part of the WLF.  Founded by Karen Watson, MSW, executive director of Our Mother’s Home and Tasheekia Perry, of Crowning Daughters for Success, the fund was established to empower young women and girls in the Dunbar Community. 

Similar to the Women’s Legacy Fund, this new fund will include a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop Dunbar’s next philanthropic leaders.

“We welcome the women of Dunbar who want to make a difference and create change in our region starting in their own neighborhood,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

“We look forward to working together and learning from one another.”
For more information on IMPACT DUNBAR or the Women’s Legacy Fund, click here.
Year-End Giving Ideas – We Make it So Easy!

Making a year-end gift is as easy. We’d like to make it even easier with simple ways you may be able to save and give.

Of course giving is more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. You can give your time, your talent as well as your treasure to an organization or organizations you care about.

This  is just a brief outline of options of how you can give through the SWFL Community Foundation, and the ways we can help you express your philanthropy.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving.  Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significant reduce their current income taxes for 2016.
Example: if you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2016, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you’re in the 33% tax bracket.  And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift.
We urge you to discuss your 2016 year-end tax planning with your account and other professional advisor.
CAUSE & EFFECT: June & July 2015

CAUSE & EFFECT: June & July 2015


June/July issue

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Endowment

unnamedYour Community Foundation has been hard at work connecting with donors who want to see their philanthropy at work today, and to continue long after they are gone from this world.  We have established a great number of new funds for donors this year including a record number of Donor Advised Funds, which we like to call the “give now” money, the charitable checkbook. We are the community trust to ensure donors and their families can continue their legacies well into the future.

And while we work to assure current and future funds, our board of trustees has guided us to also become an active foundation working in our region to understand and address some of our community’s biggest issues.  We are meeting with not only nonprofit leaders, but also the end users, the residents are actively involved in seizing opportunities and creating the lives and neighborhoods we we all want. We are including business leaders, education leaders, philanthropists, government officials, and people from all sectors to seek solutions that financial support alone can’t create.

So as our assets approach $90 million, we are actively finding ways to increase our assets, yes, but also to be a leader in creating change in the region for the common good.  After all, that is our mission.  We are deeply grateful to all of you who have given, received, convened, talked and dreamed with us.  If you want to be part of creating change, please contact me by clicking here.

I am always listening.

In Gratitude,


2015 Florida Fellows
2015 Florida Fellows Chis Boogar, Adriana DiGraziano, Kelsie Ozanne, and Lauren Munsey of the University of Florida’s Public Interest Communications Program are working in nonprofits in the region this summer

Florida Fellows Program Adds Spark to Grantees

It’s all about storytelling.
In an added effort to assist the nonprofits to share the impact of the work that the SWFL Community Foundation funded this year, the Foundation, in partnership with the University of Florida’s Public Interest Communications program, has established the first Florida Fellows. This paid summer internship for UF students brings together their communications skills to area nonprofits.  This year, three nonprofit organizations, grantees from the SWFLCF 2015 Community Impact Grants, are hosting the Fellows.
It was all made possible by the support, generosity and wisdom of local PR Pro Amy Gravina, and the Al and Nancy Burnett Charitable Foundation.
These bright, young future leaders have been hard at work with the Gulf Coast Symphony, Naples Botanical Garden, and the Care and Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW).  You will be hearing more from them along the way!
WLF Contributors explored issues affecting women and girls in our region at the Spring WLF Luncheon. Click here for more photos from the luncheon and round table discussion

Women’s Legacy Fund Contributors Choose Access to Goods & Services in Neighborhoods for Women & Girls for 2015 Grant

The Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has opened its annual call for grant applications.

This year, the WLF will be awarding $20,000 to an organization that increases access to goods and services for women and/or girls in a neighborhood in Southwest Florida.

Examples of programs that increase access to goods and services include, but are not limited to, a plan to distribute reduced cost bus passes to low-income women in the neighborhood to increase their access to goods and services; a series of neighborhood health days with free or low-cost doctors/dentists to increase access to health care; or a youth carnival at a neighborhood park to increase access to recreation.  Click here for more information on the grant.

Save the Date!  The check to the 2015 grantee will be presented at the fall WLF Luncheon will be held on October 22Click here for more information on getting involved with WLF.

(L to R) Ashley Skalecki, Regional Initiatives & Partnerships Coordinator; Sydney Roberts, executive assistant; Nick Saracione, accounting associate.

Welcome Our New Staff

Please join us in welcoming Ashley Stalecki, Regional Initiatives & Partnerships Coordinator; Sydney Roberts, executive assistant; and NickSaracione, accounting associate.
Each with their own areas of specialization, we are pleased to add these bright change makers to our team.  We hope you will stop in and say hi!
The attorneys of Henderson Franklin Starnes & Holt, P.A. share insights with the Community Foundation team

Wealth Advisors Update Team on Client Needs

Summertime has been a great opportunity to meet with the professionals in the region who work with donors in our community day in and day out.

Together we have been sharing insights on what we all are hearing from people who want to use philanthropy to support causes that they believe in now and in their legacies.

We are dedicated to being a resource for community philanthropy and to provide support to the wealth advisors, estate planning attorneys, and financial managers seeking ways to help their clients fulfill their philanthropic wishes with the greatest effect and saving tax dollars.  If you’d like to connect this summer, contact Carolyn Rogers, VP of Development and Communications by clicking here, or calling 239-274-5900


Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Grantee TribeThe Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Grantee Tribe Convenes at Community Hub to Begin Their Work

Leaders of the five nonprofit organizations who have been selected to receive grants from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation have begun their work together with the first monthly meeting.  Together the group will grow and share in the experience of being a grantee from the artist’s foundation.  This fall they will convene at the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva.  For more information on the grantees selected, click here.

mobileGoing Mobile!

Chances are you are reading this e-newsletter on your mobile device such as your phone or pad.  We want to keep you informed and engaged in our work.

We’d love to hear from you.  What are you interested in?  What do you care about?

Please click here to share your thoughts.  Let us know what you want and how you want it delivered.

We are all listening!

In Gratitude.

We wish to extend a very special thank you to all of our friends and supporters who gave to support our annual appeal this fiscal year.  Your support of our work means so much to us all.

Because of our donors this year, we provided job skills training, fostered music programs for underserved children, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, provided access to food for the hungry, helped women and girls in need, saved baby wildlife, created more space for orphaned puppies seeking adoption, and launched a regional coalition to increase the number of working adults with college degrees or credentials from 27% to 40% by the year 2025.
It’s never too late to give.

It only takes a minute to change the world,
we’ve made it that easy for you to give. Our online giving is open 24 days/7 days a week. So please click below to give now.

support SWFLCF Now





May 2015

Sustainability &

Summer Planning

As our scholarship recipients prepare for college, and the events “season” calendar takes a rest, the otherwise blank squares on my Outlook calendar are filling up because I am back on the Listening Tour to all corners of SWFL.

In April the Foundation made an agreement with the Lee County Board of Commissioners to acquire the Sustainability Plan and although sustainability is in the fabric of all we do at the Foundation I know there is much to discover on this topic.

I am already learning a great deal from members of the Foundation team who have worked for years asking countless rooms full of people what sustainability means. Early on the answer was always different. Today the answer is becoming more consistent with some variation of “meeting today’s needs without compromising the needs of future generations.”

So when I call, I hope you’ll answer, and if you have some thoughts on sustainability in our region, I would love to hear from you!  Just click here, because I am listening, and I always  will.



         Save these

     Important Dates

Prima Donor Reception -
July 16
Women’s Legacy
Fund Fall Luncheon-October 22
Traveling this summer?


As seasonal residents go back north and our year-round friends head out on vacation, we have been busy helping them with what we call “letters of request & direction,” it’s often one of the last pieces of an estate plan.  While your will may direct how to handle your assets to benefit your heirs after you are gone, you can also plan your philanthropy and your legacy quite specifically.


It is something that doesn’t require an attorney as long as you have  some language in your will to express a desire to give, and you can change your wishes at any time  Questions? Please call us at 239-274-5900, we can share some examples and help to guide you.


It’s Scholarship Season 
More than $500,000 will help 98 students thanks to our donors and volunteer readers
Leah, shown here, is just one of 1,221 students to apply for a 2015 Community Foundation scholarship. More than $500,000 will be divided among 98 students this year, and for some students up to 4 years.

Over 100 volunteer readers helped to review the applications assuring the criteria was met and scoring the submissions. (Thank you, readers!!)

“We offer scholarships for vocational students, and not just for attendance at colleges and universities thanks to our donors,” said Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the SWFL Community Foundation. “As we work closer with FutureMakers Coalition and our donors, we are able to shift the way scholarships are granted to better benefit the student’s ability to not only access schooling, but to complete it.”


To view the 2015 list of recipients for the scholarships, click here.



Scholarships Support Student Success

From homeless to helping others



Yajaida Vasquez, ARNP,

helps others in the community because our community helped her achieve her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Read her story and see why she says, “I was supposed to be a statistic.”

Click here to watch a short video of her story and those who helped her help herself and her son and daughter.


Women’s Legacy Fund
Contributors Dive Deeper into Issues
It  was a virtual “who’s who” list of concerned SWFL women who, as contributors to the Women’s Legacy Fund, gathered this month to explore the needs of women and girls in our region as told by the end-users themselves.  The SWFL Community Foundation’s program evaluator Dr. Cindy Banyai met with female students and mothers throughout Southwest Florida to learn what really is going on in our region from their perspective. 
The research revealed the cause areas for the 2015 WLF grant focus:
  • Youth programs for girls
  • Increased access to goods & services in neighborhoods
  • Safety for women & girls

During the WLF spring luncheon, the topics were discussed, debated and brought forth for vote.  The WLF grants committee will tally the votes and seek nonprofits serving that the specific area and request proposals for the $30,000 grant.  The winner will be announced and the check presented at the Fall WLF Luncheon on Oct. 22. Save the date!

Want to become a contributor?  Simply click here to make a $250 contribution.  Half will go directly to next year’s 2016 grant and half will go to endowment so that we can provide for women and children in Southwest Florida in perpetuity.


Calling all Angels

A beautiful way to honor someone special


Angel art by Ellen Sheppard

We know there are angels among us, just click here and you can see a whole gallery of Women’s Legacy Fund angels, beautiful women who have been honored or memorialized here.

With a gift to the WLF endowment fund, you or a group of your friends or family can honor your angel.

Check out their stories and click here to nominate your own angel.  Angels will be honored at WLF fall luncheons or privately with a special angel certificate and letter from the Foundation.


Regional champions gather to share and assess the work currently being done in the region


Action Teams at Work

FutureMakers Coalition has sprung into action with the first of many Action Team meetings.  The group divided up into teams specific to their area of work:

  • Aspiration/Preparation
  • Acces/Entry
  • Persistence/Progress
  • Completion

To get involved, click here and sign the wall on the FutureMakers website, or call Tessa LeSage at 239-274-5900.


Art Exhibits Bloom in Community Hub


Irma Backelant, Diane Dowthitt and Tracey Owen-Cullimore

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted its spring art exhibit reception, featuring work from the PanAmerican Alliance for Art, Culture and Industry this month. Click here to see reception photos.

Part of the 2014-2015 Art & Community exhibition series, the exhibit included more than 45 art pieces of varied mediums such as pastels, watercolor, acrylics, jewelry and more from Irma Backelant, Elizabeth Jaramillo, Jefferson Jones, Annie St. Martin and more. The exhibit will run through May 28 and is available for public viewing hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule a tour, call Kim Williams at the Community Foundation office at 239-274-5900.

Wait til you see what we have planned for next season! A one-woman show with Barbara Yeomans and an exhibition by photographer Brian Teitz.  Stay tuned for details. 

Cause & Effect: March 2015

Cause & Effect: March 2015

March 2015

Our March e-newsletter – and time marches on!

We have had so much going on at the Community Foundation this winter season, if we have missed you in March, we hope you will join us for some April activities highlighted here, or you can always check out our website’s Event Calendar.

April Roundtables

Please join Sarah Owen and several other community leaders

for a roundtable discussion about

The New Philanthropy

and a private briefing on our work in the community and its regional impact

Your choice of dates:

Wednesday, April 15th

12noon to 1pm

The SWFL Community Foundation Office

8771 College Parkway, Suite 201

Fort Myers, FL 33919

Wednesday, April 29th

4pm to 5pm

The SWFL Community Foundation Office located on Sanibel Island

455 Periwinkle Way

Sanibel, FL 33957

Click here to RSVP or please call 239-274-5900

Please note this is not a fund raising appeal

WLF Spring Luncheon  for Contributors Only 

Thursday, May 14
Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club

Invitations are forthcoming, or email us if you would like an invitation.

FutureMakers Coalition Launched 
National recognition, support from Lumina Foundation

More than 80 business, government, education, workforce and economic development leaders joined together this month to launch a regional cohort, FutureMakers Coalition.

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to increase the number of people in Southwest Florida with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 40 percent by the year 2025.

“Currently 27 percent of the workforce in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties has some sort of post-secondary degree,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Coalition’s backbone organization. “With targeted funding, legislation and uniting groups around the same goal, we expect to be able to meet this milestone by 2025.”

Click here to read more and to see photo from the FutureMakers Rally held recently.


Women’s Legacy Fund

We Invite You to Become Part, Renew & Save the Date


It’s that special time of year to focus on identifying the cause areas for the Women’s Legacy Fund 2015 grant.

Be sure to have a “voice in the choice” and become a contributor, or renew your support by May 1.

Watch for your invitation for the Contributors-Only Spring Luncheon

Thursday, May 14

Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club

We will dive deeper with discussion into the areas affecting women and children in the region for grant consideration from the collective philanthropy of women.

Click here to contribute today!

Sign Up for SWFL Grants Information
Nonprofits Can Opt-In for Info
Interested in getting the most up-to-date information on the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s grant opportunities? Please take a moment to sign-up for notifications on our website today! 


Non-profit Regional Road Trip


Our team of program evaluator, writer and photo/videographer visited with five of our 15 nonprofit 2015 Community Impact grantees to meet with their end-users and to see how the grant money is working toward the nonprofits’ program goals.

Check out their stories and watch the short videos to get to know the nonprofits a little better.

Click here


Scholarship Season, oh my!


Just like spring, the Community Foundation’s scholarship season has sprung. This year’s cycle has attracted an unprecedented number of 1,212 applications for the nearly $500,000 in awards. More than 100 volunteer readers are working on their evaluations, due by April 10. If you are interested in helping, please contact Melanie Holaway, scholarship coordinator, by clicking here

Click here


Art Blooms in Community Hub



The Fort Myers Art League hosted more than 60 guests at the March 26 Art & Community Reception. The Women’s Legacy Fund contributors and friends enjoyed a screening of Hardy, in partnership with the Fort Myers Film Festival, at the Bell Tower Cinema, and the prima donors welcomed Heather “the Heat” Hardy for a private screening, along with the documentary film’s director Natasha Verma included a Q&A led by Stephanie Davis.

Wait, there’s more! Please save the date April 30 from 4 to 6 p.m. for the Pan American Alliance and Naples Art Association Reception celebrating their show to be featured in the Foundation’s Community Hub throughout the month of April.


Safe Streets – We are Advocates!


Getting to our office, the beaches, or the ball park on safe streets has been a hot topic of conversation thanks to the News-Press. Check out more on that from reporter Janine Zeitlin and a guest editorial from our President & CEO Sarah Owen.

Click here

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Southwest Florida Community Foundation | 8771 College Parkway | Building 2, Suite 201 | Fort Myers | FL | 33919
Cause & Effect: February 2015

Cause & Effect: February 2015

February 2015

This Lot: FULL 


A full parking lot means a full building. A full building at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation means a space filled with people who care about the community meeting to share ideas and solutions to issues facing Southwest Florida.

A little over three years ago the Board of Trustees and the team at the Foundation committed to becoming a community hub. We threw open our doors and started listening to donors, nonprofits and community advocates. We began the process of converting storage and offices into spaces designed for roundtable meetings, hung beautiful art created by Southwest Florida artists all over our walls and invited the community to come in to see it, and welcomed people in to share innovative ideas that could change our region.

Please join us for a roundtable, an art reception or just a visit in the Community Hub.


Let’s keep the conversation going. We have plenty of parking!


Upcoming Roundtables: 


The New Philanthropy

and a private briefing on

our work in the community

and its regional impact by Sarah Owen


Your choice of dates:


Wednesday, March 4

9 to 10 a.m.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation Office


Thursday, March 19

4 to 5 p.m.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation Office


Wednesday, March 25

4 to 5 p.m.

The Trianon Hotel

3401 Bay Commons Drive

Bonita Springs, FL 34134


RSVP to: 239-274-5900 or 
Click Here


Please note this is not a fund raising appeal



U.S. Under Secretary of Education Meets with SWFL leaders on Education


U.S Under Secretary of Education    Ted Mitchell at Rtiz Carlton last week
Last weekend, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell joined a small group of  community and business leaders to discuss the future of education in our region. He encouraged the group to continue to focus on attainment siting that only 50% of students who begin college or a training program actually complete the degree or certification, and first generation students are the highest among the population not reaching completion.
“We need to provide support systems for these students to succeed,” said Mitchell. In addition, he lauded the community for its work on the charter and acceptance into Lumina Foundation’s national cohort. “
It is a big deal to be invited into this national cohort,” he said. “In 10 years, I look forward to coming back to SWFL and seeing great change because of your work.”
Save the Date and Join Us:
FutureMakers Rally
Wed., March 11, 8 to 10 a.m.
Miromar Design Center, Estero

Women’s Legacy Fund News: Better Together


It’s that time of year to renew or to become a contributor to the Women’s Legacy Fund. A collective philanthropy group, the WLF inspires women around giving, and issues and causes related to women in SWFL. Contributor renewals have gone out in the mail, and a call for new Contributors begins now. For more information, please click here. Together we can do so much more than we could ever do alone. Please join us!


Upcoming WLF Events:


Ft. Myers Film Festival Special Screening of “Hardy,” especially for WLF Contributors – COMPLIMENTARY
Thursday, March 26, 5 p.m.

Bell Tower Theaters  

Prima Donor meet the director and Heather Hardy, leading lady of “Hardy.”
Friday, March 27, 3 – 5 pm
Foundation Office Community Hub


WLF Spring Contributors’ Luncheon
Thursday, May 14
Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club

Note: For WLF Contributors only 

Invitations are forthcoming, or click here if you would like an invitation.

Ideas Take Flights
Update on Impact Forum

It all began as an idea and now one project has taken form to solve a community problems.


An important result of the Florida Next Impact Forum held in Collier County on November 5, 2014, was Valerie’s House, presented as a safe place for people can go who suffer loss. Angela Melvin presented the idea that has gained momentum through


Valerie’s House raised $6,100 from 64 donors. Because of our partnership with Florida Next, Valerie’s House is gaining traction with seed money, volunteers helping to form a board, and a plan to create a special place for children and families in Southwest Florida to connect with one another and learn the tools to heal after they have experienced tragedy, loss and death.


The purpose of Valerie’s House is to help families in Southwest Florida work through their loss together and go on to live successful lives.

Keep an eye out for more developments on Valerie’s House, or for more information on other start ups, visit


It’s Scholarship Season!


The deadline for applications by students is fast approaching next week on March 2, 2015. Click here for more information.


Scholarship readers have been recruited and are now training for the difficult task of selecting the 2015 recipients. Nearly $500,000 will be granted from our more than 75 scholarship funds. As we like to say, “the future is bright!”


Check out this story about one of our special scholarship donors:

The G. Napier & Ellen T Wilson Scholarship Fund