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. 

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