NEWS

I’m Back

I’m Back

I’m back. Not that I have been gone on an extended holiday but over the summer months the team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation turned over this column to local nonprofits so we could all learn more about their work in our region.

If you are a regular reader of this column then you know it is a place where stories are told and conversations are started about issues in Southwest Florida.

At the Foundation we walk alongside nonprofit grantees all year long and have the opportunity to hear many amazing stories about their work and the change they are creating in our communities. But sometimes I worry that not enough people are hearing what we’re hearing.

Good stories about good work need a platform. A few months ago I heard that “doing good is the new cool,” and if that is the case we have some of the coolest people ever in Southwest Florida.

This summer we wanted to be sure some of these cool customers had the opportunity to share their stories with you. If you missed some of the summer narratives penned by local nonprofit leaders in this space you can find them all on our website at www.floridacommunity.com/news. They are a great read anytime of the year.

But because my name and little square photo have not been in the byline for the past several months, a few people have asked where I’ve been. They weren’t asking about my personal whereabouts but rather about the Foundation’s column. I realized that both longtime Foundation stakeholders as well as people hearing about us for the first time connect with the community through this column. Not to mention I tell some pretty embarrassing stories about myself in this space. My family is continually mortified at the lengths I will go to in order to tell the story.

Storytelling is a big part of the way organizations can share the impact of their work and inspire others to get involved. It is a vehicle to engage and inspire people to create change. The private sector has used this form of communication around branding and marketing very effectively and in the social sector we are beginning to see a greater focus on effectively telling a story to create more effective change.

At the Foundation we want to support and equip our local non-profits to be great storytellers about their work and help them discover the best platforms for those stories. Last year we worked with the organizations we funded to provide training at the University of Florida in public interest communication (that’s the buzzword for what I am talking about here) and several SWFL nonprofits hosted interns from UF over the summer to develop a more vibrant communications strategy that included storytelling.

So yes, I’m back to tell stories, which is the easiest job in the world when you have so many incredible subjects. What I write about here are the community stories that each of you create through community philanthropy and a giving spirit.

You keep doing amazing things, cool people, and we will keep using this space to tell your stories and sometime in the coming year we will let you tell them yourselves.

In the meantime, if you want to share a special story with me, please contact me at iamlistening@floridacommunity.com.

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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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.

Graduates find debt, lack of opportunity overwhelming

A great example of why education and economic development leaders must continue to work together. We are glad to be at the table with all of you.

As a high school graduate and with the winds of opportunity seeming to be whirling around my mind as I consider what could await my future, I took the advice of our society in going to college. I had a goal of wanting to pursue my “American Dream” and make a positive impact on my community before I reach a ripe age of retirement. I attended Florida Gulf Coast Universitywhere I majored in Health Services Administration. As I went through my undergraduate, I began to think about what I wanted to do once I graduated. I found an interest in health law, so I decided that I would pursue a career as a health law attorney after graduation. I worked part-time at Starbucks, attended college full-time, and managed to study for the LSAT before taking it in June 2014.

I continued on into my senior year of college eager to graduate and enter into the next chapter of my life. I led a research team where we worked with the Parkinson Association of Southwest Florida researching the benefits of exercise for persons with Parkinson’s disease. As I graduated in December 2014, I was offered advice by the CEO of a healthcare company to build some work experience before jumping into law school. I thought this was wise counsel so I went on the job hunt.

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Southwest Florida Community Foundation to host Art, Community & Conversation – “The Visual Voice” reception and exhibit

Southwest Florida Community Foundation to host Art, Community & Conversation – “The Visual Voice” reception and exhibit

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2015) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will host a reception to kick off its Art, Community & Conversation “The Visual Voice” exhibit featuring a photojournalistic view of the Southwest Florida community by award-winning photographers of The News-Press.

The reception will take place Thursday, Sept. 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Community Foundation’s Community Hub, located at 8771 College Pkwy, Suite 201, Building 2 in Fort Myers. Reservations are requested by Sept. 10 by contacting Kim Williams at KWilliams@floridacommunity.com or 239-274-5900.

Attendees may meet the photographers and listen to their experiences photographing events and happenings in the community that often puts a spotlight on social justice issues in our own backyard.

News-Press photographers exhibiting their work and participating in the reception include Andrew West, Kinfay Moroti, Jack Hardman, Ric Rolon, Sarah Coward and Amanda Inscore.

The exhibit is sponsored by Palm Printing Strategic Solutions.

The exhibit will be on display from Sept. 17 through Oct. 23 and be available for public viewing Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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. 

 

Putting Life in Perspective: All That Lasts Is What You Pass On!

Putting Life in Perspective: All That Lasts Is What You Pass On!

by John Sheppard, a founding trustee and senior advisor
SWFL Community Foundation Board of Trustees

In November of 2001, my wife Ellen gave an article to read from that November issue of Family Circle magazine, written by the horror story Novelist Stephen King. I did not know it at the time, but researched and found King and his wife have a very impressive record of charitable giving before and since their Foundation donating millions to charities.

One of Mr. King’s novels “The Shining,” was made into an award-winning movie with Jack Nicholson. It still gives me the ‘willies’ to think about that book and movie.

This article was compelling, but it was not the Stephen King I had known. Below are a few pearls of King’s realistic wisdom and truth taken from his article:

In 1998, Stephen King was in an automobile accident while driving alone on a dark, and lonely road he might have described in one of his stories. The accident nearly took his life. It took two years of rehab for him to recover.

He recounted in the article that, as he lay in the ditch, along that dark road, thinking he would die, he began to reflect on what is important in life.

Here is how he expressed it:

“We come into life naked and broke. When we go out, we may be dressed, but we are broke. (‘We don’t take anything with us.’) Bill Gates, broke. Tom Hanks, broke. Stephen King, broke. Not a crying dime. No matter what you may have made or have, (when you die) it’s still going to be a quarter-past getting late, whether your watch is a Rolex or a Timex.”

Stephen King mused: “Sooner or later…the only three things you can call your own: your body, your mind, and your spirit. So, I want you to consider making your life one long gift to others. And why not? ALL THAT WE HAVE IS ON LOAN ANYWAY. ALL THAT LASTS IS WHAT YOU PASS ON.”

King continued: “Giving is not about the receiver, or even the amount of the gift. It’s for the giver… to improve oneself… giving is a way of taking the focus off the money we have and putting it back where it belongs… on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities that nurture us and we nurture. A life of giving – not just the money, but time and spirit – repays.”

WOW! Did he get that right or what?

Stephen King concluded: “It helps us to remember that we are going out broke, but right now we’re doing OK. Right now, we have the power to do great good for others.” (Now, while we are alive and at our passing through our estate planning.)

“So I ask you to begin giving generously. I think you will find, you gave more than you ever had, and did more good than you ever dreamed.”

All this from the master of horror, and philanthropist, Stephen King.

I’m not glad he had the accident, but I’m glad he had an epiphany and the revelation that night!

And I am glad he shared it with us.

Like the old farmer’s mule, sometimes we have to be hit between the eyes with a two-by-four to get our attention and see the light.

Stephen King got the whack and heard the message, loud and clear.

Has the two-by-four hit you yet? Have you heard the message, loud and clear?

Are you giving now, or have you planned to give at your ‘graduation’ (passing) what you are able to give?

A man who fought in the Civil War Albert Pike wrote this “What we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others remains, and is immortal.”

What will be your legacy? Remember, all that lasts is what you pass on.

If you’d like to talk to us about your planned, current or life’s legacy, please either email us at info@floridacommunity .com or call us at 239 274-5900. The staff and trustees of the SWFL Community Foundation are always ready to help you to -thoughtfully- give to the causes or charities you care about.

Note: John Sheppard is a retired estate planning attorney, author, a founding trustee of the SWFL Community Foundation, a past president of the organization and now a senior advisor, a donor and multiple fund holder.

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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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.

Rogers recertified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive

Rogers recertified as a Certified Fund Raising Executive

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 25, 2015) – CFRE International has recertified Carolyn C. Rogers, vice president of development and communications for Southwest Florida Community Foundation, as a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Rogers joins more than 5,300 professionals around the world who hold the CFRE designation. Rogers received her CFRE in 2000.

Individuals granted the CFRE credential have met a series of standards set by CFRE International, which include tenure in the profession, education, demonstrated fundraising achievement and a commitment to service to nonprofit organizations. They have also passed a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a fundraising executive and have agreed to uphold accountability standards and the Donor Bill of Rights. Initially, candidates must pass a rigorous written examination testing the knowledge, skills and abilities required of a fundraising executive.

“The CFRE credential was created to identify for the public and employers those individuals who possess the knowledge, skills and commitment to perform fundraising duties in an effective and ethical manner,” said Jim Caldarola, CFRE, immediate past chair of CFRE International. “As the certification is a voluntary achievement, the CFRE credential demonstrates a high level of commitment on the part of Carolyn C. Rogers to herself, the fundraising profession and the donors who are served.”

In addition to her CFRE, Rogers holds accreditation as a public relations professional (APR) and certification as a public relations counselor (CPRC) both through the Florida Public Relations Association.

CFRE recipients are awarded certification for a three-year period. In order to maintain certification status, recipients must demonstrate on-going fundraising employment and fundraising results, and continue with their professional education. Employers and donors who work with CFREs know they are getting a professional who is committed to the best outcomes for their organization and has the requisite knowledge and skills.

CFRE International is an independent organization dedicated to the certification of fundraising executives by setting standards in philanthropic practice. Governed by a volunteer board of directors and led by a small professional staff, CFRE International consistently meets the highest standards for certification excellence and is itself accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies.

As the premier global credential for career fundraisers, the CFRE designation is endorsed and supported by the world’s leading professional and philanthropic associations, including:

 

Association of Christian Development Professionals (ACDP) Association of Fundraising Consultants (AFC)
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Association of Lutheran Development Executives (ALDE) Association of Philanthropic Counsel (APC)
Boy Scouts of America (BSA)
Canadian Association for Gift Planners/Association canadienne des professionnels (CAGP*ACPDP)
Council for Resource Development (CRD) Educate Plus
European Fundraising Association (EFA) Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) The Giving Institute
Giving Institute; International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC) Japan Fundraising Association (JFRA)
North American YMCA Development Organization (NAYDO) National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC)
New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (NEAHP) Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP)
Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI) United Way Worldwide (UWW)
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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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.

 

Beating the Odds 2015: Top High Schools for Low-Income Students

Beating the Odds 2015: Top High Schools for Low-Income Students

Newsweek’s “Beating the Odds” list seeks to identify schools that do an excellent job of preparing their students for college while also overcoming the obstacles posed by students at an economic disadvantage. A star next to a school’s name indicates that it meets our Equity measure by helping low-income students score at or above average on state assessments.

Huh? Schools Think Kids Don’t Want To Learn Computer Science

Huh? Schools Think Kids Don’t Want To Learn Computer Science

TIMES HAVE NEVER been better for computer science workers. Jobs in computing are growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs. By 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1 million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students qualified to fill them.

If any company has a vested interest in cultivating a strong talent pool of computer scientists, it’s Google. So the search giant set out to learn why students in the US aren’t being prepared to bridge the talent deficit. In a big surveyconducted with Gallup and released today, Google found a range of dysfunctional reasons more K-12 students aren’t learning computer science skills. Perhaps the most surprising: schools don’t think the demand from parents and students is there.

The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College

The Town That Decided to Send All Its Kids to College

College was never much of an option for most students in this tiny town of 1,200 located in the woods of the Manistee National Forest. Only 12 of the 32 kids who graduated high school in 2005 enrolled in college. Only two of those have gotten their bachelor’s degree.

That was just a decade ago. Now, nearly everybody who graduated from the high school here in June is off to a four-year college, a community college, or a technical school. Kindergarten students talk about going to college. High schoolers take trips to campuses around the state and, at a raucous assembly each spring, reveal to the school which colleges they’re going to attend.

So what changed? How did one of the poorest counties in Michigan, a state that’s struggling, accomplish such a turnaround?

Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough

The packages would always arrive when I least expected them. Wrapped somewhat sloppily in brown paper and twine with an upstate New York postmark the contents were a treasure trove of gemstones.

My grandfather, who I only met on one or two occasions as a young girl, fancied himself a rock collector and amateur gemologist. He would travel out west and collect all sorts of rocks that he would magically transform into rich pieces of polished turquoise or other shiny gemstones. Sometimes he would go so far as to include a small piece of jewelry adorned with one of his discoveries in my special deliveries.

I imagined him to be either a wildly adventurous gold miner or a wealthy gem trader, which made the packages even more exciting.

My illusions were dashed on one of his two trips to Florida. I envisioned him arriving in a limo dripping in gems and diamonds. He came in a Buick but I was still excited to help him with his bags and cases that I was certain housed the precious cargo. He had barely gotten comfortable before I begged him to show me his collection.

But instead of perfectly polished stones, he presented me with what looked like a box of dirty old rocks. I am sure my disappointment was showing. He was quick to tell me that these were in fact the beautiful gems I was hoping for but it would take a little time.

Reaching back into his bag he pulled out a rock tumbler and began the process of turning a bag of rocks into shiny polished nuggets. In some cases the change happened fairly quickly and gave me instant gratification while others specimens needed to be bounced in the tumbler longer and then had to be polished by hand with some sort of compound to bring out their inner beauty. All the rocks had to go through some sort of process to reach transformation.

Looking back I think this was my first lesson in how change happens.

I grew impatient quickly and he explained that it was not just about the gems but about the process and what happens along the way. He enjoyed searching for the rocks, collecting, cataloguing, and transforming them into the finished product. I just wanted the finished product.

If you have ever heard me introduce our team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, you know I always speak of them as “Change Makers.” I speak the same way about community donors, non-profit professionals and volunteers. All of these folks are dedicated to creating change in our region. Not change for change sake but positive sustainable change that makes our communities better places for all of us to work, live and play.

I am still obsessed with the beauty of the end result but have also become more and more passionate and patient about the process my grandfather explained to me.

Many times we all read about the end results that change agents have accomplished and we hear great stories of successful transformation. But I have come to realize that these efforts have come as result of their own sort of rock tumbling.

Recently I was meeting with a group of interns from University of Florida who were embedded in local non-profits for the summer. I asked them what had been their biggest surprise in transitioning from the classroom setting to the field. They all agreed that they had come to realize that imagining the change they wanted to create in the world and the speed at which they could do it was vastly different.

I told them to just keep tumbling and the gems of change will emerge. If you want to be part of change in our community, let me know. I can be reached at iamlistening@floridacommunity.com.

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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation opens grant cycle

Southwest Florida Community Foundation opens grant cycle

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 10, 2015) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will open its 2015-2016 Community Impact Grant season with a call for innovative projects and programs. More than $500,000 is available for both established and new programs that are designed to increase the quality of life in sustainable and equitable ways for Southwest Floridians.

Based on its available Field of Interest funds, the Foundation’s Community Impact Grants provide strategic funding in the following areas:
1. People – Projects and programs that address the challenges of low-income families, specifically those of women and children, and challenges facing the homeless, elderly and those with disabilities
2. Animals – Projects and programs that address the humane treatment and care of animals
3. Arts – Projects and programs that advance the arts and/or supply arts education for children
4. Education – Projects and programs that increase post-secondary attainment by strengthening aspiration and preparation (infant through high school), access and entry, persistence and progress, and transition into the workforce after school
A list of eligibility requirements can be found by reviewing the Grants Process for Community Impact Grants under the Grants page at www.floridacommunity.com.
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 $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 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.