NEWS

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Making a List and Checking it Twice

In the course of raising three kids I have seen my share of holiday wish lists. Crayon scrawled letters to Santa Claus have now been replaced with text messages and links to the coveted items on websites but the lists have all left a narrative of what captured my family’s attention over the decades.

Lists have a way of capturing our thoughts and intentions, and in the case of holiday gift lists our wishes and desires.

Most kids update their lists annually. What they couldn’t live without the prior year is a distant memory as they craft the fantastical world of new possibilities.

In a desire to cultivate the spirit of generosity in my kids as they were growing up I would ask them to make one wish list for themselves and another list for what they wanted to give to others. At this point in the column I wish I had a heartwarming story of how my young charges spent hours crafting their giving list and selflessly put their own wishes to the side. But this list activity never seemed to get the results I had hoped.

In retrospect I think I may have found the answer. (Why we figure these things out after our children have left the house is a mystery to me!) I didn’t spend enough time including them in my own giving list. Sending off end of the year donations was just one more thing on my to-do list. My intentions were good but my execution was rushed.

40% of all charitable giving in the United States happens in December- when most Americans are busy checking off lots of lists. With over a million charities in the US and over 3,000 right here in Southwest Florida there are a lot of opportunities to give.

I always told my kids that they wouldn’t get everything on their lists-and the same thing rings true for my end of the year giving. There are so many great causes and organizations and I can never give to them all.

Intellectually I realize that when I decide to give to one organization I am in the same moment deciding not to give to another, but in the end of the year rush, I have to be careful not to make these decisions in haste.

I wish my children had seen me take as much time with the giving lists as I did with all the other holiday preparations.

One strategy I have learned since I joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is establishing a Donor Advised Fund. Last year I contributed a portion of my charitable dollars into a Fund at the end of the year and that gave me plenty of time to devote to my giving decisions.

I have also learned that I am not alone in trying to develop a list or find the information I need to make decisions I feel good about long after the holidays are over. Team members at the Foundation, armed with data on community need, information on nonprofits and opportunities to get involved in our region, are getting calls from caring donors seeking the most effective ways to fulfill their personal philanthropic wishes.

The team also arranges tours at local organizations, and roundtables on issues to help shape a charitable list.

All of my kids will be home for the holidays this year and I plan to revisit their youth by asking them to craft two lists. But this time I will be checking the giving lists twice.

If you would like any help crafting your end of the year giving lists please email me at iamlistening@floridacommunity.com

 

image courtesy of cachevolunteercenter.org

 

 

 

Cause Fest Photos

Cause Fest Photos

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

CAUSE FEST BONITA

CAUSE FEST SANIBEL

CUASE FEST FORT MYERS

Cause Fest Bonita

Cause Fest Bonita

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Cause Fest Sanibel

Cause Fest Sanibel

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Cause Fest Fort Myers

Cause Fest Fort Myers

As part of its annual celebration, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation expressed thanks to its supporters and friends during a series of three-night Cause Fest events held Nov. 10 to 13. To emphasize the Foundation’s regional reach, the events were held at different locations during subsequent nights including the Big Arts Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island, the new Harley Davidson Six Bends in Fort Myers and Shangri-La Hotel in Bonita Springs.

Couple opens fund for Hope Clubhouse – $1.1 million to support mental illness locally

Couple opens fund for Hope Clubhouse – $1.1 million to support mental illness locally

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 5, 2014) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently established a new fund for donors to support mental illness in our community.

Donors Kappy and John King established the $1.1 million John S. and Kathryne A. King Fund for Mental Illness with the Foundation.

Mental illness is a cause that’s near and dear to the Fort Myers Beach couple. Through their family fund, they’re committed to erasing the stigma associated with mental illness and helping Southwest Florida improve its services. The state currently ranks 49th nationally in mental health spending per capita.

“We hope by giving through the Community Foundation, it will raise awareness for the need for more money for mental illness,” said Mrs. King. “There are thousands of people out there who need help. It’s so difficult to raise money to support mental illness as opposed to mental health. We hope our fund will lead to additional contributions.”

The Kings worked with the Foundation to customize their fund, creating a family legacy that will ensure continued support of Hope Clubhouse, a Fort Myers agency offering work, education, friendship and access to housing for those with mental illness.

“It’s a wonderful organization, as it gives people a sense of life and purpose,” said Mrs. King. “We know if anything should happen to the Clubhouse, the money will continue to help people living with mental illness. It will carry on after we’re gone.”

The Kings participated in the creative exchange of ideas during the Foundation-hosted iLab with local nonprofits. By participating in the iLab, the Kings and other donors had the opportunity to see the work the Community Foundation is doing to partner with nonprofits.

“We got to watch and ask questions and share our insights,” recalled Mrs. King. “We knew about the Community Foundation and have watched them grow during the past few years. We love what they’re doing – carrying it further and seeking solutions.”

The Foundation has also introduced new programs to empower donors with ownership on the issues they care deeply about. Donors with donor-advised funds can choose their investment strategy, from conservative to more aggressive, and they can continue to work with their investment advisors through the Foundation.

“We’ve made it even more convenient for donors to become vested in their giving, launching a Donor View portal on our new website that provides 24/7 internet access to their funds,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Here, they can track the history of their giving, create reports and receipts, and conveniently make grants.”

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $2.8 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. The Foundation granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.

FutureMakers Coalition changing the future for high-school graduates

Impact will grow with Lumina Foundation support

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2014) – FutureMakers, a regional call to action initiated by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc., Southwest Florida Works, The Education Foundation of Collier County – Champions for Learning, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, has released results from its inaugural year.

FutureMakers was born in 2013 with the mission of getting students in eight selected local high schools engaged and excited about college and career training. Regional schools were selected based on the low percentage of seniors filling out the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) in recent years. Education and community organizations in each county assisted the FutureMakers coalition in providing one-on-one and group mentoring, FAFSA workshops, financial-aid application support and career coaching.

During the 2013-2014 school year, 912 high-school seniors at the FutureMakers’ eight partner schools including Cypress Lake, East Lee, Lehigh, Port Charlotte, Golden Gate, LaBelle and Clewiston high schools and Moore Haven Junior Senior High School successfully completed the FAFSA.

“We launched FutureMakers with optimism and realism, knowing a program of this magnitude requires baby steps before it can take off running,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Less than one third of high-school seniors in our five-county area were filling out the FAFSA. Understanding what type of financial aid is available and how much they may qualify for can make the difference between going to college or not for students. Our goal was to help the class of 2014 take its next step toward the educational opportunities that are available to them before graduation.”

Statistics based on data provided by the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) website, as of June 20, 2014, showed that five of the eight schools improved their FAFSA completion rates, and four were above the state’s declining 31.18 percent. East Lee recorded the biggest increase at 11.1 percent, and Cypress Lake had the highest FAFSA completion rate with 44.6 percent of students completing the form. Additionally, 1,681 seniors chose their next step toward entering college, working toward a technical school degree or embarking on a career.

“One day, we will collectively look back and know we’ve solved a big problem together,” said Susan McManus, Education Foundation of Collier County – Champions for Learning. “Mostly our success will be told in the eyes and stories of students who are now on their way to college.”

“There are many challenges affecting FAFSA completion throughout the state, one of them attributable to the state no longer requiring the application to qualify for Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program,” added Owen.

According to the FCAN, it is estimated that during 2012, Florida’s high-school graduates left behind more $100 million in Pell Grants by virtue of not completing the FAFSA form.

Obtaining a college or technical school degree is important in today’s global economy. By 2020, 60 percent of Florida jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate. Currently, only 38 percent of working-age Floridians have earned a two- or four-year degree, according to FCAN’s analysis of national and state education data.

“This is not a sprint. Moving FAFSA numbers even a few percentage points is a major

accomplishment, and we are just beginning our journey as a region committed to increasing college attendance and graduation,” Owen said. “It ultimately comes down to one student at a time to achieve their goals and dreams.

Twins Fritz and Fritzlene Maxi thought they’d be standing on the sidelines watching friends gleefully getting ready for their college lives, but thanks to FutureMakers, these two recent high-school graduates will be joining the ranks of the college class of 2018 or attaining postsecondary technical training after securing financial aid and receiving college and career prep from caring mentors.

“We’re the first generation going to college and working toward being successful,” said Fritzlene. “That makes my mom really, really proud.”

Fritzlene is attending Florida SouthWestern State College while her brother Fritz is traveling to Trinity College of Florida in Tampa.

The work of FutureMakers has been recognized by Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. As the coordinator for regional participation, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and its FutureMakers participants will benefit from Lumina’s collaborative approach that connects us to renowned national thought-leadership organizations and provides technical and planning assistance, data tools and flexible funding as attainment plans are customized. Lumina plans to grow the network with the addition of 35 new partners cities. Ultimately, 75 cities will make up Lumina’s Community Partnership for Attainment network.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $60 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $2.8 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. The Foundation granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

For more information, visit the Community Foundation’s website at www.floridacommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.