NEWS

How do you know if that donation you give makes a difference?

How do you know if that donation you give makes a difference?

Think about the last check you wrote, the raffle ticket you purchased, or product that you purchased to benefit an organization. Do you ever wonder if it made a difference?

There is a growing demand on nonprofits from funders to deliver on their promises and to show results. As someone who specializes in evaluation, this brings me endless joy, but I lament that funders often don’t know what they are asking for and nonprofits don’t know what’s being asked of them. What does this lead to? Generally speaking, confusion, but also a continued waste of time and money. In order to make evaluation and data collection useful for nonprofits and funders, it has to be calibrated correctly.

Let’s set the record straight on evaluation. Evaluation should not be used punitively. At the SWFL Community Foundation, we cannot stress this enough. We need organizations to develop an evidence-based learning culture and this cannot be done if nonprofit leaders feel that cooperating with evaluations leads to criticism and a decrease in funding for their work. That’s not to say that evaluation should not be challenging or critical, it must, but it has to be seen as valuable inside and out.

Reframing evaluation efforts in this way improves the data quality and reporting. It also leads to my second point – evaluation results must be used for improvement. Collecting data to be squirreled away to higher powers is not conducive for developing a learning culture. It is not useful to the organization that is burdened with collecting it, leading to resistance and data corruption. However, if those tasked with data collection are part of the evaluation process – question making, analysis, reporting and feedback – they are part of that system with a vested interest in it. This provides multiple opportunities for learning and improvement along the way.

So how do we measure the right results? We, at the Foundation, are addressing this with nonprofits and funders. We want nonprofits to design programs to demonstrate success toward their goals without reaching for pie-in-the-sky outcomes, instead encouraging grantees to develop outcomes that are directly related to their activities. For instance, a youth business training workshop looks to measure their effectiveness by measuring how much the youth’s knowledge in the area of business increases, not on how many of those youth open businesses or graduate from high school.

The latter is impact, which is difficult to connect definitively to one, small business training workshop. Agencies offering small scale programs like this should be aligning themselves with others who share their same ultimate goals, so they can then begin to understand their collective impact, as well as better measure it. Let’s call this “proximity evaluation.”

The other side of this topic is helping funders better understand this “proximity evaluation.” It is important to understand that a program is doing what it says it will do based on what a non-profit agency can reasonably hope to achieve through a given program. The broader and longer-term impacts should be connected to these program results, but we should not be judging new, small programs on this. Funders should evaluate the quality of a program based on the effectiveness of achieving the results that are in the closest proximity to their activities. Not every great program has to solve big issues, but they should be able to demonstrate effective, connected steps toward them.

The SWFL Community Foundation is committed to strengthening nonprofit organizations in our region through offering resources, coaching, training and guidance in addition to grants. And while we help our grantees to establish their metrics, we also monitor our own Foundation measurements to aspire to our outcomes, and to learn from our failures.

We want to make sure our work makes a measurable difference. If you want to make a difference, we’d love to hear from you at 239-274-5900 or visit our website at www.FloridaCommunity.com.

Community Foundation’s new spring exhibit features work from Art League of Fort Myers-Art reception to scheduled for March 26.

Community Foundation’s new spring exhibit features work from Art League of Fort Myers-Art reception to scheduled for March 26.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will begin the spring season with a new exhibit in its 2014-2015 Art & Community exhibition series featuring work from the Art League of Fort Myers.

The new exhibit includes more than 75art pieces of varied mediums such as watercolor, photography, digital, stained glass and acrylic from artists including Steve Conley, Barbara Chloe Murdoch, Portia Wright, Lisa Peterson, and more. The exhibit will run through March 27 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.

In honor of the new exhibit, the Community Foundation will hold a reception on Thursday, March 26 from 5 to 7 p.m. at its headquarters located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers. Reservations may be submitted to Jacqueline Ehlers at jehlers@floridacommunity.com.

Founded in 1956, the Art League of Fort Myers is an organization dedicated to promoting the application, appreciation, enjoyment and distribution of fine art to its members and its community. It sponsors art exhibitions, provides educational opportunities through programs and classes, provides opportunities for local artists to exhibit and sell their works, conducts charitable and educational outreach programs, and collaborates with other nonprofit, business and governmental organizations to attract people to the community through these art-enriching experiences. For more information, visit www.artleagueoffortmyers.org.

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 $84 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $2.9 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.

 

One Serious Southwest Florida Asset

One Serious Southwest Florida Asset

Water. It is a basic human need. We cannot survive without it. That alone is a pretty compelling argument for protecting it. In Southwest Florida, water is also the reason why people come here. The region’s unique environment is our attraction, drawing visitors, residents, and business to the area. It drives our economy.

Tourism generates more than $2.7 billion annually in Lee County alone. A recent poll by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau shows 94% of all visitors to the area identified our beaches as our most attractive asset. These are impressive numbers but don’t account for the many ways in which water defines quality of life here in SWFL. All of us benefit from our green spaces, local agriculture, recreational uses, wildlife habitat, and stormwater management systems, not to mention that clean stuff that comes out of our faucets when we’re thirsty. As the lifeblood of our community, environment, and economy, water is a cause that has captured the attention of the region.

In February, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted John Moran’s The Springs Eternal Project Exhibition “Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth,” documenting the beauty, history and increasing ecological devastation of Florida’s springs and aquifer. What was clear is that our waters are part of an ecosystem that connects us all.

The Springs Eternal Project showcased photojournalist and nature photographer Moran’s 20 plus year journey photographing and documenting Florida’s treasured springs. I have seen his presentation several times and each time I audibly gasp at his before and after photos of springs across the state. You see, I grew up in Florida and visited many of the springs often in my childhood. I had secretly harbored a dream of someday becoming one of the famous mermaids at the Weeki Wachee Springs. The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river”, and mermaids have performed there for over 60 years.

As Moran moved through his presentation that highlighted dramatic decline in most all of Florida’s Springs, my mind immediately went to the Mermaids, the natural habitat and the generations of Floridians who may never have the chance to see them if we don’t take this water issue seriously.

Those in attendance also let out some gasps and voiced the same thing I was contemplating when it comes to this type of significant issue. What can we do? Water knows no jurisdictional boundaries. It is impacted by every one of us in so many ways. It can feel overwhelming. But like with any complicated challenge, the answer requires everyone play a part to achieve a common outcome. Plentiful and clean water is a certainly a worthy goal for our region.

There’s no denying water is on the radar of policy-makers, non-profits, and other stakeholders across the region and State. As conveners around regional issues and lovers of SWFL’s unique environment, we believe there is a role for our foundation to play in improving and protecting our waters.

Beginning in the Fall of 2013, the foundation held four water roundtable discussions with environmentalists, developers, policy-makers, and technocrats from across the region to explore the problem. A common topic that surfaced among these community leaders was the lack of unity around a common message from the region about how to address our water problems. A unified message could result in additional assistance and opportunity for the region to drive real solutions to protect this precious resource.

On July 8, 2014, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation sent the first of two letters to the Army Corps of Engineers with a unified message from 24 individuals representing local governments and organizations from across the region. I know the letters won’t solve our water woes but they represent another step forward toward collaborating around this important Cause. Water “issues” aren’t going away and everyone has a role to play in conserving and protecting our natural resources, whether its turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and changing the way you maintain your lawn or contributing to this or one of the many efforts going on in our community to protect our environment.

Here at the foundation, we are invested in continuing the conversation around the region’s efforts to promote the health of our water resources. To learn more about our work around this issue, visit our website to read our 2014 Water Roundtable Report at www.floridacommunity.com/environment. If you want to be part of the discussion around water, please contact me at iamlistening@floridacommunity.com or give me a call at 239-274-5900.

 

— 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 $84 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the foundation granted more than $2.9 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.

 

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 CausetoFund.org.

 

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 CausetoFund.org.

 


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

The New Tribes of Southwest Florida

The New Tribes of Southwest Florida

Have you heard anything about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s “tribes”? Maybe the thought of it gave you pause or made you think “what does that mean?” Tribes, as we consider them, are groups of people who share a passion and gather together around that passion — paying respect to the tribes of the past and seeking to connect the tribes of the future. Dr. Dave Fleming, the Foundations’ Chief Strategy Officer, guides our learning with the tribes through his research and development of the concept of Tribal Alchemy – turning lesser into better with the raw materials of change.

Our tribes share a passion for regional change. The members are our grantees who work in nonprofits and other agencies to make things better for our community – for children, animals, and neighborhoods. We bring together these passionate people to build a stronger understanding of our region and the positive change it needs.

Many nonprofits and service providers in our area gather together occasionally to share updates and ideas, but many others are isolated in their work – in siloes. We believe that this isolated work is a hardship for nonprofits and does not lead to sustained regional change. This is why we support and develop the connections between nonprofits by giving them space to thrive together and reflect on their work. We ask the leadership of our nonprofit grantees to set aside time each month for “tribe meetings.”

Our work with the tribes is always dynamic, responding to our grantee partners and our regional community. Sometimes the tribes are small and issue-focused. Sometimes they are more inclusive. Sometimes they coalesce around a particular goal or program. The Foundation acts as facilitator to help the tribes come together in meaningful ways and to be better from the experience.

Our grantee tribes follow a path together. They share the challenges and opportunities they encounter. They creatively reflect on their work and discuss innovative solutions to common challenges.  We encourage open dialogue on missed opportunities, so we can fail forward. The tribe gatherings bring together leaders to strategically think on their programs – a rare opportunity in the bustle of everyday nonprofits. The Foundation also uses the tribes to provide support to nonprofits, particularly in the areas of leadership development, evaluation, and sustainability, something that is often financially out of reach for small nonprofits.

The tribes function on another level as well. They build the networks of nonprofits. These networks can be called on later to access resources and collaborate around bigger issues. What does this ultimately mean? Less cost and more change – pretty important things for nonprofit organizations and our community!

The Foundation benefits from the tribes as well. Our understanding of the work our grantee partners do in the community grows through the interactions during the tribe meetings, regular coaching sessions, and visits. This makes us better informed on our community and helps us provide tailored support to our grantees so they can make change in our region – real outcomes.

We are happy to be a part of the new tribes of Southwest Florida, as we learn and share together on this journey of regional change.   Do you have a cause that you care about deeply?  Check out our website and tell us which one is most important to you at www.floridacommunity.com and go to the SOLVE page.  We want to know!  Or email Cindy at CBanyai@floridacommunity.com.

 

Big Time, Real Time

Big Time, Real Time

This past week we celebrated President’s Day. When we think about the President, it doesn’t take too long before we also think about leadership. In fact, being President is often viewed as the ultimate leadership position. I understand why, of course. The scope and authority of the job is unparalleled. The President is often described as the leader of the “free world.” That’s quite the bullet point on a resume. I mean that kind of visibility and power reveals the pinnacle of leadership. Right? I wonder if there’s a fallacy in equating the success of a leader with the size and scope of his or her job description. I’ll call it the fallacy of the big time.

When we use the phrase “the big time” it usually refers to someone that has reached a level of success that becomes visible to large numbers of people. “You’ve hit the big time,” we might say to a person with a new and high-powered job. “Big time,” can also mean that a person has amassed a significant amount of power. “Wow, that’s big time,” we might say to someone with enough power or money to get whatever they want, whenever they want it. So from the “big time” perspective, the President is the ultimate example of leadership success, or at least right up at the top of the list.

Great leaders focus not on the fleeting nature of the big time, but on a compelling mission (the work) that is done in and through meaningful relationships (the people). Authentic leadership then comes when the leader focuses on the work and the people not his or her current visibility and power quotients. This of course is easier said than done. No one would argue that ego plays a role in most types of leadership. That’s why focus matters so much. When a leader is tempted toward arrogant leadership (the big time), he or she gets too far away from the work and the people that matter. Time to refocus on the real-time not the big time.

“Big time” thinking can be the undoing of good leaders. Why? When leaders equate successful leadership with hitting the big time, they focus on getting noticed and amassing power. Popularity and power become the drivers of action rather than gifts bestowed by others. And that’s when everything goes haywire. Arrogant or power-hungry leaders repel us all because they seek the wrong things. They do a kind of smash and grab. Arrogant leaders often smash people around them in order to gain visibility. They also grab power in order to cement their control. In an attempt to reach the big time, they ignore the essence of leadership.

At the SWFL Community Foundation, we convene and collaborate with leaders from all sectors of our region. Our desire is to be humble brokers of the great ideas, skills and passions found in the people of Southwest Florida. We do this because we know it takes all of us (the people) focused on strategic action (the work) to bring about meaningful change. When we lead and work together, it turns smash and grab into include and share, and that increases the effectiveness of our efforts.

So this next week, no matter what kind of leadership you find yourself performing (at home or work) remember these four things:

1.            The big time is fleeting; trying to achieve it isn’t worth your time

2.            Don’t chase power, share it

3.            Don’t focus on getting noticed, focus on doing great work

4.            If you happened to hit the big time, refer back to numbers 1-3

photo from cmcacorner.com

 

 

 

Stuff we are Reading

Stuff we are Reading

Putting Community in Collective Impact by Richard C. Harwood

Our program evaluator Cindy Banyai, Ph.D. shared her comments and highlights on this report.  Check it out here and her comments are below:

  • “collective impact efforts must be aligned and calibrated to the context of community ” p. 6
  • “The success of collective impact depends on genuine ownership by the larger community that starts with placing a value, not only on expert knowledge, but also on public knowledge that comes only from authentically engaging the
    community. ” pp. 6-7 [why we need to bring the broader community voice into the planning of regional initiatives]
  • [so, so key!} “…engaging a community cannot be satisfied merely by asking people to react to data, or by using community conversations to “test” pre-set strategies, or by equating “engagement” with marketing plans. Rather, the starting point must be to engage people on their shared aspirations for the community. ” p. 7
  • [rationale for using Asset-Based Community Development] “Asking about shared aspirations is different from asking people about the “problems” they see, which only creates a deficit approach that inevitably leads to finger-pointing and arguments over pre-set solutions. ”   p. 7
  •  “Fit” involves more than just doing the numbers, collecting the latest information about programs and best practices, and aligning different groups. These steps alone will not necessarily lead to alignment with the community….Fit also involves knowing that communities go through several stages – and the key is to know which stage a community is in at any given time. Each has its own implications – or do’s and don’ts –for creating change. ” p. 8 [btw, I think we're at the Waiting Place on the chart on p. 9]
  • “…the key hidden factor in whether a community moves forward or not is its narrative…Many communities are dogged by an ingrained negative narrative…” p. 13 [this reminds me of how many times I've heard people here say "Don't reinvent the wheel"...is that the SWFL narrative?]
Give Back to the Future

Give Back to the Future

I couldn’t stop myself from fast-forwarding 20, 30, 40 years ahead as a new donor sat with me in our office this week. The genteel man with a copy of his will in hand was very specific with me about how he wanted his money directed to five separate scholarship funds, each with special criteria, after he and his wife pass on. He is quite well-known in town, a retired physician who has helped usher thousands into this world as an obstetrician.

“This is where I worked and prospered, and I want what I have left to help people here,” he said. I recognized immediately that he was proposing a plan of giving back to the future. I cannot express the intense sense of responsibility we all feel at the foundation with such a gift. It is as if he handed me one of his precious newly-delivered infants to be held for the very first time.

You might be familiar with the “Pay It Forward” concept; to pay it ahead. In fact not long ago, my latte was paid for by the person in front of me in the coffee line. But on this day, while my modern-day “Doc” outlined his desires to give to deserving students, I was mesmerized with the hopes and dreams that his and his wife’s gesture would come to bear. This was “giving forward” by giving back at its very finest.

His and his wife’s estate will be carved into sizable pieces that will endow enough money to send several deserving students from our community to college. Scholarships will be renewable year after year so that the students have a fighting chance to attain a college or post-secondary degree, and in the case of one of their funds, a medical degree.

Deserving. I asked what that meant to him. “Well, you’ll know,” he said. “It’ll be someone who deserves the chance for this funding to help pay for college, which is so expensive now.”

The statistics illustrate his point. Increasing the amount of student financial aid (including private scholarships) that a low- or middle-income student receives can have a big impact on higher education access, retention and most significantly: completion. There is a distinct correlation between income levels and college completion according to the 2009 follow up to the 2003-04 Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study presented by National Scholarship Providers Association white paper Sept. 16, 2013.

With an eye on the future backed up by the proven data, the foundation is inspiring donors to award scholarships differently. It’s one thing to set up a fund for an annual grant for a scholarship and it’s another thing to provide resources for a college or post-secondary education. Both are generous and important, and both are very much needed.

My new doctor friend embraced the notion of helping to provide the launch pad for these students but and also providing the fuel necessary to get them to their destination. He joins a multitude of donors who currently have made nearly $500,000 available at the foundation each year to deserving students.

As I walked him out to his car in the parking lot, I was almost looking for a silver DeLorean DMC-12 complete with a time machine as featured in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy. My new doctor friend wasn’t the wild-haired Einstein-inspired genius also affectionately named “Doc” in the movie, but he carried with him an essential link to the past and some keys to the future. And as quickly as he arrived in my office, he was gone as if it were just another day in the life.

To read the longitudinal study by NSPA, or to find out how to give a scholarship or to receive one, visit floridacommunity.com, email me at CRogers@floridacommunity.com or call us at 274-5900. We love to find ways to help.

 

— 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 $84 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the foundation granted more than $2.9 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.

 

 

 

Crowd Funding: Time is running out for Fab Lab Fort Myers!

Crowd Funding: Time is running out for Fab Lab Fort Myers!

Two great ideas – Valerie’s House and Fab Lab Fort Myers – were standouts at the 2014 #SWFL Impact Forum. You can help make them a reality. Learn about Fab Lab Fort Myers below and click the link to make a contribution to either project today! Every little bit helps.

A Fab Lab is a woodshop for the 21st century; an open, creative community for artists, inventors, scientists, engineers, educators, students and professionals of all ages. Imagine a place where conversations about new ideas and creating new things happens every day!

Physically, the “lab” has the latest fabrication equipment to bring ideas to life, such as laser cutters, 3-D printers, etc. It also provides stimulus for local entrepreneurship. Fab Labs democratize access to the tools for technical invention. The real innovation is in the network.

Our Fab Lab will be connected to over 300 other labs in 30 countries, and will be only the 2nd lab in Florida. We will use the same off-the-shelf equipment and we will have access to the latest software and expertise. Participants will simultaneously learn and mentor both locally and throughout the network.

http://www.causetofund.com