NEWS

Banyai receives national award for community development

Banyai receives national award for community development

FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 28, 2015) –Research and Evaluation Specialist Cindy Lyn Banyai, Ph.D., a consultant with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, has received the 2015 Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award.

The award is presented to a Community Development Society (CDS) member in recognition of superior contributions to the field of community development and the CDS within the first 10 years in the field.

The Donald W. Littrell New Professional Award was presented at the 46th Annual International Conference, held in Lexington, Ky. from July 19 to 22.

Banyai, program evaluator at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, is also the principal consultant at Banyai Evaluation & Consulting, LLC. She has worked in the field of community development since 2000, including two years with Michigan State University Community Outreach and seven years as a community development consultant. Her most recent work with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation includes working with the Foundation’s grantees (coined “tribes”) on outcomes mapping and empowerment evaluation, facilitating groups for regional initiatives and conducting community research to support the work of the Community Foundation.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Cindy,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “We are grateful for her outstanding contributions in the field and to the Community Development Society as well as her daily contributions to the Community Foundation and the Southwest Florida region.”

Banyai studied international relations and psychology at Michigan State University and received her master’s degree and a doctorate in Asia Pacific studies from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, where her research focused on community development, public administration, evaluation and governance. Her works have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Rural Society and Asia Pacific World. She also edited and contributed to the books “The Public Administration Handbook of Japan” and “Global Movements of the Asia Pacific.” Banyai’s first solo book, “Community Capacity and Development – New Approaches to Governance and Evaluation,” was published in 2011.

She is an active member of the Community Development Society, serving as editor of its monthly publication Vanguard and serving on its board of directors, and the American Evaluation Association, serving as webmaster for its collaborative, participatory and empowerment evaluation group. Banyai’s other professional pursuits include being an adjunct instructor in the Department of Public Affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University, executive director of the nonprofit Around the Clock Caring, which focuses on transitional housing for homeless families, and president of the fitness company Florida Fit Mama, Inc.

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.

 

 

Popcorn Plants & Melting Clocks

Popcorn Plants & Melting Clocks

by Lauren Munsey, 2015 Florida Fellow

 

Jet-lagged from my European adventure that ended just days before, I drove to my next (less expensive) adventure: Southwest Florida. For two hours, 23 minutes and roughly 30 seconds, I contemplated about how SWFL was going to treat me. Are we going to be friends or fr-enemies? Will I fit in? What are my fellow Fellows going to be like? It was a game of 20 questions with myself, and I was losing desperately.

I met the other Fellows early on in this adventure. Plot twist: we live together. Late for dinner, I walk in to half-eaten plates and three very smiley people. As the night went on, I again played a game of 20 questions with my three Fellows. Mercifully, I was not losing this time. Hours later, we all went to bed and pondered what could be in store for us on our first day.

“Can they smell my fear, yet?” was the question I asked myself as I braved the plank into the Southwest Florida Community Foundation office. I put on my best “everything is fine” façade and sat down. HI’s, hellos, handshakes. After protocol paperwork, I was then introduced to the organization to which I was assigned. The lucky winner, you ask? Naples Botanical Garden. I would be supervised by NBG’s Deputy Director Chad Washburn. A brilliant mind with a love for The Grateful Dead, I knew we were going to get along swimmingly.

Over these past four weeks, I’ve learned more about Chad, the NBG staff and the Garden itself. I’ve toured the garden multiple times and each time I learn something knew. Every blink shows something I was blind to before: a truly humbling familiarity.

Naples Botanical Garden is the kind of place that inspires all. Now I’m no Plath, but to better express my experiences (so far) at the Garden, I’ve crafted this:

Popcorn plants; chocolate flowers.

Chanel No.5 scented leaves.

Soapy seeds; potted-plant pants.

 

Ecosystems with attitude.

Plants with latitude.

Naples Botanical Garden.

 

With a sensory-oriented Enabling Garden, it quite literally “awakens the senses.” The Enabling Garden actually has plants that smell like buttered popcorn and flowers that smell of hot cocoa. Benches line the garden so visitors can sit, breathe and just exist with nature. And exist, they do.

At the Garden, my overall task is to write content for the website about the Enabling Garden and the NBG community programs within it. I’m creating messaging for programs ranging from Co-Step, a program that teaches students with disabilities vocational skills in the garden, to the Alzheimer’s Sensory program, which puts emphasis on stimulating each person’s senses through plants. These programs are based around improving the quality-of-life for all those involved.

As I type this I look down at my watch, Dali’s “Melting Clocks” as its face, and I question time itself. It’s been a little over a month since my arrival and it feels like months. My time here has been absolutely brilliant, and I still have four weeks left. It’s clear to see that SWFL is becoming a dear, dear friend.

 

 

In an added effort to assist nonprofits funded by the SWFL Community Foundation this year, the Foundation is hosting four students studying public interest communications at the University of Florida as part of the Foundation’s Florida Fellowship program. Funded by the Al & Nancy Burnett Charitable Foundation, the students are working in three of our nonprofit grantee organizations this summer for an 8-week paid fellowship. For more information on the SWFL Community Foundation, its grants processes or to be part of the change that the grantees are working toward in the region, contact us at info@floridacommunity.com, or call us, we’d love to have a conversation, 239-274-5900.

 

 

IPad Minis Help Bridge a Gap

IPad Minis Help Bridge a Gap

by Juana Brown, RCMA Director of Charter Schools

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories. Here this week we learn from Juana Brown, RCMA Director of Charter Schools, about how our grant provided the funding for technology in the classroom. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers. If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at info@floridacommunity.com or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

Ann Marie Morgiewicz’s second-grade classroom in Immokalee Community School is a lively and industrious place. One group of students gathers around a crescent table coaxing disjointed sentences into paragraphs. Other students sit on the carpet describing their science experiments. Two students review a reading assignment with help from a volunteer. Others gather paper airplanes and science journals in preparation for another round of test flights. Children launch Javelins and Mighty Mites, Flying Foxes and Cat Ears into the air, then measure and record the distance flown.

All students use iPad Minis.

Thanks to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s support, every first- and second-grader at the School has an iPad Mini for use at school and with parents at home. The iPads are bringing educational fairness to our students and their families; they are closing the technology gap in our rural agricultural community.

Eighty percent of jobs created in the next decade will require significant math, science and technology, along with excellent communication skills. Preparing our students for a demanding and innovative workplace means developing educational technologies. These best practices help students cultivate language, literacy, critical-thinking skills, and the background knowledge needed for levels of success in higher education and careers that are currently outside the reach of most of our school families.

Redlands Christian Migrant Association, which runs the school, serves over 800 farmworker families with educational programs. These families earn an average yearly income of $12,000 working in the fields or processing plants. Most ICS parents lack any formal education. Many neither read nor write. Yet they are gaining technology skills in iPad workshops. IPads are linking parents with the school as educational partners through shared videos. Each week teachers share highlights of classroom activities via iPad, and parents reciprocate by sharing videos of students reading and parents telling stories.

As RCMA celebrates its 50th anniversary, the work becomes ever more compelling. There are many transformational success stories through the years, and education has played a key role. It begins with classrooms like Ms. Morgiewicz and partners willing to invest in a child.

If you are interested in learning more about RCMA’s transformational programs, join us in making a difference for our students by contacting me at juanabr@rcma.org.

ipads 3 ipads 4 RCMA ipad 1 RCMA ipad 2

 

Everything I Know, I Really Did Learn in Kindergarten

Everything I Know, I Really Did Learn in Kindergarten

by Andrew Kurtz, Music Director, Gulf Coast Symphony

 

In Kindergarten, I was handed a violin.

I began learning to play the instrument and still do to this day. It was this delicately crafted wooden “music box” that ultimately led me to a career in the arts. Little did I know that the benefits of learning to play an instrument would have on my cognitive abilities, my memory, and other higher executive functions.

In fact, only recently have brain studies shown just how powerful music making can be in a one’s ability to make decisions, to increase impulse control, and improve creativity.

In 1975 Venezuelan educator, musician and activist José Antonio Abreu launched El Sistema — a publicly financed, music education program in Venezuela, with a goal of helping children escape poverty.

In Venezuela, children begin attending their local El Sistema center, called a “nucleo,” as early as age 2 or 3, with the vast majority continuing well into their teens; attending up to six days a week, three to four hours a day, plus retreats and intensive workshops. Participation is free for all students. The country now has over 700,000 students participating annually.

Today, El Sistema is a tested model of how a music program can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s neediest kids. Among its graduates, El Sistema Venezuela has nurtured international musicians such as Gustavo Dudamel and the world-renowned Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra.

This year the Gulf Coast Symphony launches MusicWorks!, an El-Sistema inspired afterschool orchestra program at the Harlem Heights Center. Our partner, the Heights Foundation, believes that the solution to poverty is education and opportunity. We believe that by strengthening a child’s spirit and creativity through learning to play an instrument, it can help them succeed in life.

MusicWorks! will provide instrumental instruction 1.5 hours each day, Monday through Thursday after school this fall at the Heights Center. Participating children will be in grades K-2 and choose from violin, viola, cello, or bass. They will benefit from individual, small group, and large ensemble instruction. Chorus and basic musical knowledge will also be part of the intensive curriculum. The instruments and program are provided free of charge. Three professional music instructors, including a full-time Program Director, who also teaches, ensures that children get necessary individualized attention.  Additionally, members of the Gulf Coast Symphony assist in program instruction.

The program encourages family and community participation at regular events, helping to build a stronger community, and a deeper connection to MusicWorks! Further, participating students will be brought to concerts at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, and will perform there before a Gulf Coast Symphony performance.

While this program will certainly teach children to play string instruments, the Gulf Coast Symphony’s long-term goal is to help these children achieve their fullest potential and escape the cycle of poverty. Through discipline, practice and encouragement these children will learn to work as a team and to understand the importance of what one person’s contributions can be to an entire community.

We believe that every child can learn to experience and express music and art deeply, can receive its many benefits, and can make different critical life choices as a result of this learning.

Overcoming poverty and adversity is best done by strengthening the spirit, creating, as Dr. Abreu, puts it, “an affluence of the spirit,” and investing that affluence as a valued asset in a community endeavor to create excellence and beauty in music.

 

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories. Here this week we learn from Maestro Andrew Kurtz, music director of the Gulf Coast Symphony about how our grant provided the funding to start a music program for underserved children. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers. If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at info@floridacommunity.com or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

 

What I’ve Learned from Witty Women – Prima Donor Summer Event

What I’ve Learned from Witty Women – Prima Donor Summer Event

It was a wonderful and witty evening with the Prima Donors, special donors to the endowed Women’s Legacy Fund – a fund of the SWFL Community Foundation.  “Prima” Writer and Actress (as well as Donor) Rusty Brown performed a one-woman show for her prima colleagues “What I Learned from Witty Women.”

Celebrating women, a prima donor is a woman who is thinking of her philanthropic passions, planning her estate, and thinking about her legacy.  She is experienced, reflective and supportive in her philanthropy and wants to impact lives of others in Southwest Florida.  For more information on the Women’s Legacy Fund or how to become a Prima Donor, visit http://floridacommunity.com/womens-legacy-fund/

 

Here are a few photos of some very witty and splendid women:

CAUSE & EFFECT: June & July 2015

CAUSE & EFFECT: June & July 2015

header-enewsletter

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,

sarah

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
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.

new-team-members
(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!
wealth-advisors
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

 

 

Who Thought a Garden Could Do All This?

Who Thought a Garden Could Do All This?

by Chad Washburn
Deputy Director, Naples Botanical Garden

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories. Here this week we learn from Chad Washburn of the Naples Botanical Garden about how our grant allowed their organization to provided therapeutic programs for people with Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as students with special needs. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers. If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at info@floridacommunity.com or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

Every Thursday morning, a group of gardeners gathers around a table at Naples Botanical Garden to discuss a plan for the day’s work. Dressed in bright green uniform shirts with clippers in hand, the gardeners make decisions ranging from the design of a new chocolate-themed planting to who is responsible for pinching back the fragrant herbs this week. These gardeners are responsible for ensuring that the Buehler Family Foundation Enabling Garden is in world-class shape for visitors; however, gardening is not the main reason they are here.
These eight high school students from Mrs. Jacqueline William’s special needs class are just one of the many groups here to learn skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. Each month, sixteen exceptional students come to the Garden through a partnership with Collier County Public Schools. Guided by a job coach and the Buehler Enabling Garden Program Coordinator, they are learning the skills necessary for a successful transition to the workplace.
The goal of the program is to empower students by improving their opportunities to gain meaningful employment after graduation. In addition to learning the skills needed for the workplace, the program helps the students identify their strengths and interests, improves personal and social skills, and reinforces daily living skills in a positive and welcoming environment.
Gigi, a recent graduate of the program, has been growing radishes and moon flowers at home for a month in hopes of expanding her very own garden. Kristy Burke Graham, Gigi’s mother, said the program has been “life-changing” for both Gigi and herself. “While in the program, I saw Gigi’s confidence come back…and now she is ready and wants to explore the real world.”
In the two years since the partnership began, the students’ aspirations have grown along with their successes in the Garden. The vegetables they raise from seed are harvested and taken back to school where they are cooked in the classroom. This year the students began designing artwork for labels and hope to launch their own line of seeds in the Garden’s Gift Shop.
In addition to the pre-vocational program, the Garden hosts a wide range of plant-based therapeutic programs with a goal of improving quality of life. Each year, over 200 local students and adults visit the Garden for formal therapeutic programs. The Garden strives to inspire the local community with educational and therapeutic programs that cater to and empower all ages.

Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre world-class garden paradise that features the plants and cultures of the tropics and subtropics between the latitudes of 26 degrees North and 26 degrees South including Brazil, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Florida. A hands-on interactive Children’s Garden along with 90 acres of beautifully restored natural habitats, walking trails and a Butterfly Garden offer educational entertainment and enjoyment for people of all ages. Regular hours of operation are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day with an early opening on Tuesdays at 8 a.m. Regular admission is $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for children (4-14), members and children 3 and under get in free.

If you want to visit and become part of this slice of heaven in Southwest Florida, check them out at www.naplesgarden.org, or call (239) 643-7275.

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 $88 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 $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.

Wanderlust Southwest Florida Style

Wanderlust Southwest Florida Style

It has been said that all who wander are not lost, but recently I have discovered all who wander do not even need to leave Southwest Florida.  There is quite a lot of great wandering to be done right here in our own region.

Summertime is ripe for all kinds of staycations.  Actually as I write this column I am tucked away for the day in an undisclosed Southwest Florida location with an out of office message greeting anyone emailing and looking for me.

Just a few weeks ago, a close friend who was wandering (and not lost) made her way across the state for a visit.  She came for the sole purpose of reconnecting and catching up.  Other than a few quick phone calls on the way to meetings we had not been doing a great job staying in touch.  She is one of those friends that knows everything about me and likes me anyway so I was looking forward to a weekend staycation with her.

Once she arrived and we got settled in for the kind of winding conversations that are the hallmark of longstanding friendships, she asked the normal questions about my kids, my marriage, and life in general and seemed more interested than usual in what was happening at work.

I shared both the joys and struggles of my personal life with great ease but I noticed that when it came to talking about my work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I would quickly change the subject.  I would ask about her work or another topic we needed to cover.

For those of you that know me or read this column regularly, you know normally you cannot get to me STOP talking about the team and donors at the Foundation.  It is my number one cocktail party conversation.  My husband will tell you that he would enjoy me delving into other topics every once in a while.  So this question dodging with my friend caught me a little off guard.  I gave her some general answers about the needs in the region, our work on post secondary attainment, launching a new sustainability plan and our desire to stoke the fires of strategic philanthropy in Southwest Florida.

I could tell that she was interested but it was not what she was really asking.  She was my friend and she wanted to know the impact the work was having on me personally. Why couldn’t I give her an authentic answer?

The last night of her trip before her wandering took her elsewhere and my short staycation was over, she suggested we drive out to Captiva.  She lived in Southwest Florida years ago and had fond memories of the Islands.

It looked like it was going to storm and I was already thinking about everything I had to the next day and I made a weak attempt to wave off the idea.  But she persisted and we headed out through a light drizzle.

She just happened to have two chairs and a golf umbrella in the back of her car and we set up right by a jetty of rocks and the Gulf’s edge.

Just about the time I was going to say I couldn’t believe we were sitting at the beach in the rain an orchestra of paradise began to play.

As if on cue dolphins danced and played in the water right in front of us, pelicans dove for their evening meals, and fiddler crabs scurried right over my feet.  The rain stopped.  The clouds broke open to reveal a double rainbow and one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

I looked at my friend and suddenly was ready to tell her all about why I was working at the Foundation.  I told her that this place, this region, mattered to me and I wanted to make sure that I supported all the efforts and passions of all the other people that it mattered to as well.

She said, “ You don’t need to say another word” and she took my picture so I would never forget.

I would like to hear what you love about Southwest Florida.  Please reach out to me somewhere over the rainbow 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 $88 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 $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.

 

Southwest Florida Community Foundation installs new officers

Southwest Florida Community Foundation installs new officers

FORT MYERS, Fla. (July 1, 2015) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has installed its new board of trustees and executive committee chairs.

Guy E. Whitesman will serve as the new chairman of the board. He is a shareholder and chair of the Business and Tax Department of the law firm of Henderson, Franklin Starnes & Holt, P.A., in Fort Myers.

Whitesman received his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and his Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of Florida. Whitesman concentrates his practice in the areas of taxation, business and estate planning (business creation, operations, acquisitions, mergers and health care law). He has been active in community affairs in Southwest Florida and became a member of the Southwest Florida Foundation Board in July 2009. Whitesman is currently a member of the board of directors of the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation, Inc., Community Cooperative and the Edison Pageant of Light of Fort Myers, Inc.

Other trustees taking leadership roles include Larry Hobbs, MD, vice chair and governance committee chair; Joe Mazurkiewicz, Jr., immediate past chair; Sandy Robinson, treasurer and finance chair; Craig Folk, grantmaking committee chair; Christopher Hill, scholarship committee chair; Rusty Whitley, audit committee chair; and Robbie Roepstorff and Gay Thompson as at large executive committee members.

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 $88 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.

Guy WhitesmanPhoto By Brian TietzThompson, GayRoepstorff, Robbie

 

Lighthouse Puts Spotlight on Visually Impaired Children

Lighthouse Puts Spotlight on Visually Impaired Children

by Doug Fowler, Executive Director

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories.  Here this week we learn from Doug Fowler of Lighthouse.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers.  If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at info@floridacommunity.com or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

Eight years ago, I accepted a positon to serve as Executive Director of an agency that provides vision rehabilitation to those with major vision loss through total blindness.   Services started at age 14 through the balance of the life.    The focus was on elderly people with blindness.   Sadly, a large amount of services would not be needed if those who lost full vision as a child or at birth were provided with high quality vision rehabilitation services.

Over this span of time, the agency required to be transformed. Funding for a Blind Babies program was provided by the State of Florida, Division of Blind Services four years ago.    Children, ages 6 to 14, were not funded by traditional sources of funding for vision rehab services.

Research in Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties revealed 53 visually impaired children received educational instruction in their schools.   However, social and independence skills were not addressed.  Parental education about their child’s condition was also a great unmet need in the three county area.

The ingredients were cultivated:   children and parents identified in the three school systems, research for quality curriculum was completed, and finding a highly qualified teacher whose focus is on non-academic issues.    The one ingredient that was critical was funding.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation confidently provided funding to start the program.   From that decision, a church, a business person, and other resources contributed enough funding to start the program January 5, 2015 and it is now serving 6 children with visual impairments.

The Lighthouse of SWFL is one of the few Lighthouses in the state of Florida to have a Children’s Program in place and operating successfully. The program is growing as we are adding more children in and expanding its facility and outreach abilities. Children will be taught skills and disciplines to not only enhance their lives but also encourage independent living. In addition parents and other family members are included in the curriculum to help promote understanding and give guidance on how to help their child with a visual impairment.

The Lighthouse of SWFL, Inc. is positioned to grow our programs to all cultures living in our service area, become a training center for graduate school interns in vision rehabilitation, providing cutting edge vision rehabilitation, and teaching skills from basic living to using computer, iPad, Tablet, Smart Phones, as well as any sighted person in any environment.

If you’d like to learn more about Lighthouse services, call 239-997-7797  or visit www.lighthouseswfl.org.

 

 

About the SWFL Community Foundation

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 $88 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $61.2 million to date 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, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com