NEWS

CAUSE & EFFECT: Are We There Yet?

CAUSE & EFFECT: Are We There Yet?

Today, for the first time, my youngest child will pull his car out of the garage and drive himself to school – without me in the car.

 

You would think I would be used to this nerve wracking rite of passage by the third offspring.  I did all the right things to try and prepare him but I am not ready.

 

He indulged me over the last few weeks with reminiscing about our decade and a half in the car together.   As a child he was a car seat escape artist, back of the seat kicker and had some special maneuver that would cause my seat belt to tighten fiercely at my neck.  There was also a constant refrain of “are we there yet?” from my back seat passenger.

 

No matter what I had done to prep him for where we were going, what to expect and how long it would take to get there, about 5 minutes into the trip he would launch into the cry of anticipation of arrival. As you can imagine he didn’t ask just once.

 

No matter our age, I think when we are certain of our destination we are anxious to get there.

 

As adults we spend time navigating our endpoints. With the help of GPS technology and navigation systems we can pinpoint our exact moment of arrival.   But some journeys in life and work are easier to reach than others, which can make estimating “getting there” a bit tougher.

 

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation our journey and mission is cultivating sustainable regional change for the common good.  We want to help donors and community advocates identify what creates a positive quality of life in Southwest Florida and then design a map that we can follow to get there together.

 

When it comes to serving our community I don’t think we can ever stop asking if we are there yet.  We should never stop considering if we have done all we can for transportation, water quality, education, health, poverty elimination and economic development.

 

A few weeks ago someone ask me “are we there yet?’ in creating a sustainable region.  My answer would have never satisfied my young son in the back seat, but quality of life is never a destination that is permanently reached.   We will always be driving toward it, and protecting and stewarding what it takes to create a vibrant region.  We can never stop getting there.

 

But it is important that we create the roadmap, benchmarks and measurements to ensure we are making progress.  At the foundation we like to say, “If we can’t measure it, we can’t move it.”

 

We apply this to everything we do because we want to continue to do and support the things that create progress and let things go that don’t move us in the right direction.  It’s like GPS for change.

 

Every year we support amazing non-profit organizations who are actively trying to “get our region there” through their work in economic, social and environmental causes.

 

Last year 18 local nonprofits (see the full list on our website) were awarded over a half a million dollars to fund new and existing programs to increase the quality of life in our communities.  But they didn’t just take a check and stop there.  The leaders met with us as a Tribe for a year to work together to track both their individual and collective progress.  Always asking “are we there yet?”

 

Some of their results include:

  • Of the funded reporting nonprofits, nearly 90 percent of the tribe programs demonstrated progress toward the changes desired in the region because of their program (the programs are getting us there and their data confirms it)
  • The increase in the amount of collaboration between Foundation-funded nonprofits is 650 percent resulting in 13 collaborative projects between the nonprofit grantees. Examples of these collaborations include Gulf Coast Symphony and the Heights Center’s MusicWorks! program for the after-school children along with Family Initiative and the Alliance for the Arts’ Art for Autism program. (they are finding ways to work together)
  • Foundation-funded nonprofits saw an increase from 22.5 to 28.9 percent in knowledge and ability in evaluation skills such as data collection, analysis and reporting. (they can measure their progress and report that back to you)

Check out a great video at the link below to learn more about the results of the work of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Tribes  at  http://floridacommunity.com/tribes/

 

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

Memories

Memories

My friend had tears in her eyes as she shared her visit with a woman she hadn’t seen in years at an assisted living complex in town.

The facility was comfortable and well-appointed and the woman had excellent around-the-clock care but it was an emotional experience because she was not as my friend remembered her.

When she arrived for her visit she found the woman sitting alone in her small quiet room.  She greeted her warmly and they fell right into catching up.   My friend had invited a couple of other people to join her who had known the woman years ago as well and they all spent some quality time together.

As she shared the story of the visit with me I realized that the woman was the mother of the family who owned the house where many of my friend’s best teenage memories took place.

I bet most of us have one of those houses in our memory banks as well.  The house where everyone seemed to gravitate after school, building homecoming floats or hanging out before and after football games.  The house that always had cars in the driveway and if you didn’t have anything to do, you knew that there was a good chance you could find something happening or at least someone to talk to at this common gathering place.

You never went there to hang out with the parents but you did know them and they seemed to just be part of the house and the experience.  They were Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so.  In some cases, they could be a listening ear and offer advice that you would never probably accept from your own mom or dad, or maybe the people that kept everyone in line.  These houses and the families that occupied them are imprinted on our adolescent memories.

I don’t know about you, but it never occurred to me that even though I was aging they were too.   My Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so are always exactly as I left them, and in my mind the house is the same and everyone still gathers there.

So I imagine the frail woman sitting alone in the wheelchair who struggled a bit with her speech was not the person from the hustle and bustle of her high school memories.

As she shared the story with me she recounted her Mrs. So-and-so  as tinier than she remembered but with the same beautiful face and flawless skin.  I am sure Mrs. So-and-so remembered her guests as their former high school selves as well.  That’s how memories work.

When the visitors reflected on the time with her they decided they should continue to go back and make new memories and it made them aware of others that might need a visit as well.

Her story reminded me of the time I spent delivering Meals On Wheels to the frail elderly in Lee County.  I remember meeting so many wonderful people, who were living alone and unable to drive.  Many had lost contact with friends because they were unable to leave their homes to socialize and stay connected.  I am betting that many of them were Mr. and Mrs. So-and so’s as well.

There are some great nonprofit organizations in our community that are dedicated to reaching out to those who are aging and may not have the ability to stay connected.  They are always looking for caring individuals to volunteer help overcome the isolation that many feel.  You may not live in the community you grew up in, but there are some Mr. and Mrs. Somebody’s that would love to start some new memories with you.

If you would like to learn more about the organizations that help keep people connected as they age, or if you are involved in this work I would love to hear from you at [email protected].

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAUSE & EFFECT: March 2017 issue

CAUSE & EFFECT: March 2017 issue


March 2017 issue
Milestones like these make us smile
Sarah Owen, Pres & CEO
Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Women’s Legacy Fund is celebrating its 10 Year Anniversary this year.  That’s 10 years of grants to nonprofits providing education, inspiration and empowerment to women and girls.

By working together, WLF contributors have funded programs designed to improve literacy, employment skills, neighborhood services, career planning, mentoring and suicide prevention.

The 10 year anniversary will mark over $150,000 in grants a $642,000.00 endowment fund, 46 Prima Donors, hundreds of contributors and dozens of Angels. (see our website to learn more about these special women)

We also celebrate the recent addition of Impact Dunbar, a fund focused on the women and girls in the Dunbar community.

We invite you to celebrate with us. If you’re not yet a contributor, it’s not too late – give today (information is featured below) then join us at our WLF Contributors Luncheon on Friday, April 7th.


We will review the latest research and face-to-face conversations with women and girls
 in the region. All contributors will then have a “voice in the choice” on the cause area we as a group of collective philanthropists will address this year. And of course, we will celebrate 10 great years together.  I hope to see you there!

In Gratitude,
Women’s Legacy Fund Contributors Luncheon – April 7
It’s not too late to RSVP
 

Don’t miss the spring WLF Contributors luncheon on Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club located at 14500 Vista River Drive in Fort Myers.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the complimentary luncheon is for WLF contributors and Prima Donors.


A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

The luncheon will include facilitated discussions around the three grant focus areas selected by the WLF grants committee including:

  • STEM programs/vocational training for women and girls
  • Micro-lending programs for women
  • Business/market support for women.
Contributors to WLF contribute a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.
 
RSVP and/or Contribute Here
If you are a contributor, luncheon reservations are required by March 28 by calling Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900 or click here to RSVP.

If you’d like to become a Contributor, click here. Please call us with any questions about becoming part of the Women’s Legacy Fund at 239-274-5900.

Spring art exhibit “Fresh Aire” to electrify the Community Hub
Join us for the opening reception – April 5
 

Aglow by Artist Judi Ekholm

Beginning April 6, “Fresh Aire” will feature an adventure in color through the paintings inspired by artist Judi Ekholm’s road journey through 11 national parks and 21 states.
 
Ekholm focuses on different vantage points, and her technique is similar the Old Masters with many layers of fine paint and glazing. Her images of landscapes and gardens are both romantic and bold. She creates all sizes and scales of paintings, and each one makes its own original and unique statement. Her impressionistic paintings can be found in more than 700 international collections.
 
The exhibit is open to the public and will run through May during regular Community Foundation business hours: Monday through Friday. Some paintings are located in meeting rooms, so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible. The Community Hub at the Foundation is located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers. 

Meet the Artist and Preview the Exhibit – RSVP here

Please join us for the Fresh Aire Art Reception on Wednesday, April 5, 5 to 7 p.m. at The Community Hub.  Click here to RSVP

2016 Grantees Outcome Report
Video outlines work of 2016 “Tribes” 

Tribes Report on video
“Because if you can measure it,
you can move it”

The 18 local nonprofits granted $551,500 in 2016 from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s available Field of Interest funds as well as individual and corporate donations, have reported their annual outcomes.
 
The established and new programs funded by last year’s grants were designed to increase the quality of life in sustainable and equitable ways for Southwest Floridians.
 
  • Of the funded reporting nonprofits, nearly 90 percent of the tribe programs demonstrated progress toward the changes nonprofits desired in the region because of their program 
  • The increase in the amount of collaboration between Foundation-funded nonprofits is 650 percent resulting in 13 collaborative projects between the nonprofit grantees. Examples of these collaborations include Gulf Coast Symphony and the Heights Center’s MusicWorks! program for the after-school children along with Family Initiative and the Alliance for the Arts’ Art for Autism program. 
  • In Lee County, Gulf Coast Symphony’s free Music Works! program at the Heights Center provides an innovative education and social initiative that creates opportunities for personal development in children (grades K-2) through the study of music. 
  • Foundation-funded nonprofits saw an increase from 22.5 to 28.9 percent in knowledge and ability in evaluation skills such as data collection, analysis and reporting. 
Learn more about the results of the work of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Tribes through the video featuring the Tribes at work at http://floridacommunity.com/tribes/
Kresge Foundation grants FutureMakers $50,000 challenge — PASS IT ALONG!

The FutureMakers Coalition was recently awarded a $50,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation as part of its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI). A $10,000 grant was also awarded for administration costs and backbone support.
 
The grant will be awarded after the Coalition raises $50,000 in additional private donations by 
Jan. 31, 2018. Anyone interested in learning more about the grant or investing in the FutureMakers Coalition may visit www.futuremakerscoalition.com/partners/fund.
 
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation serves as the anchor organization for the Coalition. The FutureMakers Coalition encourages residents to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit www.futuremakerscoalition.com, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage.

The goal of the FutureMakers Coalition is to transform the workforce by increasing the number of Southwest Florida residents with degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials by the year 2025. The Coalition plans to use the challenge grant funding to continue to advance regional outcomes and efforts that support the Florida Higher Education Coordination Council’s statewide goal of 55 percent higher education attainment.

Florida Repertory Theatre establishes endowment fund 

The Florida Repertory Theatre’s board of directors recently established a nonprofit agency endowment fund with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. 

Established by nonprofit organizations, Nonprofit Agency Endowment Funds are long-term funds that allow an agency to plan for the future needs of the organization.

Because the funds are endowed, agencies like Florida Rep can take advantage of the Community Foundation’s financial management, administrative resources and expertise on planned giving. The fund provides a simple and effective way for charities to build endowment and therefore sustainability. Agencies can opt to receive annual payout based on the balance of the fund as a source of income for operations and programs or roll over the amount to increase future endowment.

STAY CONNECTED:
 
Stay Curious My Friends

Stay Curious My Friends

Are you a student of wonder?

One of the 5 values that guides our team’s work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is encouraging curiosity and exploration to promote learning and development from the inside out.

One of the risks of value statements is they are created, written down but not actively lived out in the culture of the organization.

At the Foundation, we understand that as we pursue cultivating regional change for the common good, our mission, we must be relentless students of wonder.  We must strive to be curious.

A big part of our work is our connection to others.  Donors, non-profits, community advocates, and our neighbors.  We can’t wait for partners to seek us out, instead we must be actively curious about the work, challenges and opportunities in our region.

Curiosity leads to exploration, conversations and in some cases solutions.

Our team must commit to listen well, ask questions and respond when it is helpful.  I hope you have seen us out and about involved in the community through our work with grantees, donors, civic leaders or engaged in conversations, events, meetings or gatherings.

Once a quarter we host “Caffeinated Conversations” in which nonprofits come to our Community Hub and share their work with our team.  Just a couple of weeks ago, a group of 6 leaders of nonprofits were at the table and 3 were new organizations that we learned about for the first time.

Later that same week I found myself in several conversations with donors and colleagues and shared what I had heard, which in turn sparked their interest.  That’s one of the great things about curiosity, it’s contagious when cultivated.

I would love to hear what you are curious about in our region.  I might not have the answers but our team is willing to find out.  Your input will guide some exploration expeditions across the region next year and we will invite you to come along! You can contact me at [email protected]

Let’s stay curious together.

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Who Will Cross the Bridges?

Recently there has been quite a bit of talk about bridge building in our nation and in our communities. Not the literal infrastructure kind of construction but rather symbolic scaffolding to connect people and ideas.

Whenever and wherever there are choppy waters of change, someone suggests building a proverbial bridge.

Just last week during a presentation on inspiring more registered women to vote in the 2020 election, the speaker fielded a number of questions on women’s issues that can cause divisiveness. She urged and encouraged the audience to find common ground and coalitions that encourage bridge building and collective thinking to reach a common goal of getting women to the polls to express their own unique views.

Her comments on bridge building grew applause and affirmative head shaking all around the room and it reminded me of how many times I had heard the term in conversation over the past several months.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we find ourselves in settings that require connecting diverse views on a regular basis. When you are working alongside passionate advocates and donors you are bound to hear a wide range of views on topics like education, health care, civic engagement, economic development, animals, poverty and arts.

We have found the best opportunities and innovations come out of conversations with a wide range of world views, but that does take some bridge building.

There are organizations, trailblazers, philanthropists, and leaders in our community who are willing to step up to build bridges across regional boundaries, cause areas and social, economic and cultural barriers.

Sometimes the bridge building is a lonely task while other times it gains a great deal of energy and support. Either way the bridge is built; coalitions are established; organizations are formed; and unifying conversations are started.

I see a lot of bridges all over our region. But what I am eager to see next is people willing to walk over them.

We can build goodwill and a framework to navigate some of our most difficult topics but if we as individuals we are not willing to take a step across the infrastructure that has been built nothing can really change.

Take a few minutes to look around and find a bridge that deserves your time and attention and start the journey. And if you want some guidance, reach out to me at [email protected]

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold spring luncheon for contributors

Community Foundation’s Women’s Legacy Fund to hold spring luncheon for contributors

The Women’s Legacy Fund will host its spring luncheon on Friday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club located at 14500 Vista River Drive in Fort Myers. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the luncheon is complimentary and exclusively for WLF contributors and Prima Donors.

A fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Women’s Legacy Fund is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

The luncheon will include facilitated discussions around the three grant focus areas selected by the WLF grants committee including STEM programs/vocational training for women and girls, micro-lending programs for women and business/market support for women.

In its first 10 years, the WLF has been able to provide $142,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has $638,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

In 2016, the WLF presented a grant check of $20,000 to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Whitaker Center for STEM education. The Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) program used the funding to mentor and inspire female FGCU students and middle school girls in Southwest Florida to pursue STEM careers by providing hands-on, inquiry-driven STEM activities via expertise at Whitaker Center for STEM education at FGCU.

In 2015, the WLF granted $22,675.92 to the Happehatchee Center. The grant was used for Happehatchee Center’s Working to Improve with Self Employment (WISE) Women program which focuses on the San Carlos Park neighborhood of South Fort Myers and the Covered Wagon Trailer Park in Estero.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women younger than 25). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF endowment and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

Luncheon reservations are required by March 28 by calling Sydney Roberts at 239-274-5900 or emailing [email protected]

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that have created more than 400 philanthropic funds over the last 40 years. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers.

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

Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

Pause and Reflect to Imagine New Paths

I think one of the greatest technological advancements in my lifetime is the pause feature on machines of all sorts and electronic devices.

Whether it is the ability to throw one or two more items into a wash load or dishwasher at the last minute or my all-time favorite of stopping a television show or sporting event mid action and then coming back to it (sometimes in a totally different room) when I am ready- the thrill has never worn off.

Growing up the closest thing that came to the pause feature was a game of freeze tag in the back yard, but now nearly everything can be stopped and restarted.  We are used to a fast-paced life that requires an occasional break in the action, mainly to multi-task and then come back to our original focus.  Pausing devices allows us to do more, faster.

When it comes to this non-human pausing everything stops frozen in time.  And as cool as I find this feature I have recently discovered human pausing is where the real magic lies.  This type of pause slows us down and allows us to reflect.

Recently I came across a quote from Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, which advises global businesses on ethics and leadership.  In Thomas L. Friedman’s new book Thank You for Being Late, Seidman shares, “When you press a pause button on a machine it stops, but when you press the pause button on human beings they start.  You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible, and most importantly you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs.  Once you have done that, you can begin to imagine a better path.”

But he doesn’t leave it there, he stresses “what matters most is what you do in the pause.”

This concept is the basis of Friedman’s book and he shares a compelling story of taking a pause to connect with a parking attendant, when all he really wanted to do was get on with his day.  That pause launched a relationship that was beneficial to both and without the pause he would have missed meeting an Ethiopian blogger who was trying to change the world.  This encounter led him to bigger questions that shaped his book.

When we work with individual and corporate donors on their charitable and philanthropic strategies we urge them to pause and reflect.  Many of them have been giving to the same organizations and causes for many years but have not stopped to consider how they can best impact their favorite nonprofits.

Recently we heard from a donor who was attending a community event and paused to speak with a couple they had never met who had recently started a nonprofit organization.

The donor reached out to us to contribute to the organization from the donor’s fund at the foundation the next week.  He said he would have never learned of the nonprofit’s work if he hadn’t made the point to meet the couple and start up an unexpected conversation.

Some of the best ideas come when end-users, donors and nonprofit leaders come together to pause and reflect on what the next best step is for their partnership.

Taking the time to step away, or slow down can seem counter intuitive in today’s fast paced world, but making the most of a pause can send us on a better path.

If you are looking for a pause moment to consider your values and interests in charitable giving, I would love to hear from you and help you make the most of a pause.  Reach out at [email protected]

 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.

 

 

Southwest Florida Community Foundation to showcase new art exhibit

Southwest Florida Community Foundation to showcase new art exhibit

New exhibit features paintings inspired by artist Judi Ekholm’s national park visits

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will launch a new art display at its Community Hub in April.

Beginning April 6, “Fresh Aire” will feature an adventure in color through the paintings inspired by artist Judi Ekholm’s road journey through 11 national parks and 21 states.

Ekholm focuses on different vantage points, and her technique is similar the Old Masters with many layers of fine paint and glazing. Her images of landscapes and gardens are both romantic and bold. She creates all sizes and scales of paintings, and each one makes its own original and unique statement. Her impressionistic paintings can be found in more than 700 international collections.

The artist is originally from near Louisville, Ky. She received a Master of Art in Teaching at the Indiana University and has studied with Bill Bailey and James McGarrell. She is a master gardener, and her oil paintings exhibit her knowledge and love of the land.

Ekholm is donating 30% of sales to the Fund for the Arts of Southwest Florida, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

The exhibit is open to the public and will run through May during regular Community Foundation business hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some paintings are located in meeting rooms, so those interested in seeing the exhibit are asked to call before arriving to make sure all areas are accessible. The Community Hub at the Foundation is located at 8771 College Parkway, Building 2, Suite 201 in Fort Myers.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that have created more than 400 philanthropic funds during the past 40 years. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers.

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

Pine Island Sound by Judi Ekholm
Pine Island Sound by Judi Ekholm
Aglow by Judi Ekholm
Aglow by Judi Ekholm
Midnight Madness by Judi Ekholm
Midnight Madness by Judi Ekholm

Southwest Florida Community Foundation grantees’ reports 2016 results

The 18 local nonprofits granted $551,500 in 2016 from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s available Field of Interest funds as well as individual and corporate donations, have reported their annual outcomes.

The established and new programs funded by last year’s grants were designed to increase the quality of life in sustainable and equitable ways for Southwest Floridians.

The nonprofits included Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association – Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, Champions for Learning, Charlotte County Homeless Coalition Inc., the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. (CROW), Family Initiative Incorporated, Glades County Board of County Commissioners, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc., Gulf Coast Symphony, Gulfshore Opera, Hendry County Library System, I Will Mentorship Foundation, Lee County Alliance for the Arts, Naples Botanical Garden, New Mission Systems International, RCMA, The Heights Center, The Immokalee Foundation and Gulf Coast Humane Society.

Of the funded reporting nonprofits, nearly 90 percent of the tribe programs demonstrated progress toward the changes nonprofits desired in the region because of their program.

The increase in the amount of collaboration between Foundation-funded nonprofits is 650 percent resulting in 13 collaborative projects between the nonprofit grantees. Examples of these collaborations include Gulf Coast Symphony and the Heights Center’s MusicWorks! program for the after-school children along with Family Initiative and the Alliance for the Arts’ Art for Autism program.

In Lee County, Gulf Coast Symphony’s free Music Works! program at the Heights Center provides an innovative education and social initiative that creates opportunities for personal development in children (grades K-2) through the study of music.

Foundation-funded nonprofits saw an increase from 22.5 to 28.9 percent in knowledge and ability in evaluation skills such as data collection, analysis and reporting.

“Awarding the funding was just the beginning of our partnership with the regional mix of nonprofits,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “Staying connected with them all year through their ‘tribes’ provided a learning community where they shared information and built their capacity to strengthen them and their leadership.”

Learn more about the results of the work of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Tribes through the video featuring the Tribes at work at http://floridacommunity.com/tribes/

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, it partnered with individuals, families and corporations that have created more than 400 philanthropic funds over the last 40 years. Thanks to them, the Foundation’s invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers.

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

CAUSE & EFFECT: Pushing the Tube Up the Mountain Together

CAUSE & EFFECT: Pushing the Tube Up the Mountain Together

If people watching were an official sport, I am fairly certain I could be a contender for the Olympic team or championship game.

Wherever I go I look for opportunities to observe people and their behaviors.  I often say I am listening, but many times I am watching to see what I can learn about others.

Most recently my people watching training took me out of state to a land full of mountains and snow.

One of my favorite people watching moments in these wintery conditions is taking in a couple hours of snow-tubing.  This entails tubers of all ages pushing an inflated rubber tube up a snowy hill to the top and then riding it full speed to the bottom.

Pushing the tube up the mountain is nothing short of a monumental task. Your feet slip, it’s cold, and a tube big enough to ride is just awkward to maneuver.

Kids are the best to watch because the tube is about twice their size, but they are relentless in getting that chariot up the slope because they know the joy of the exhilarating ride to the bottom.

In an afternoon of tubing, the riders will repeat this ritual over and over. But I have noticed some people are more willing to push the tube up the hill than others.

It seems to be some sort of return on investment proposition based on the satisfaction of the ride down.  In my casual observations tenacity is increased when others are there to help or share in the journey.  Groups tubing together will help fellow travelers when the tube gets too cumbersome, and in some cases they will work together to get one tube up the hill and then ride down together.

In every case, the journey is never easy.

A few weeks ago when I was feeling a bit discouraged about a tough journey of my own and was worried about keeping our Southwest Florida Community Foundation team engaged and energized a colleague shared a story she sometimes conveys to her team.

This woman is a trailblazer who I admire and she has successfully launched several community projects that many thought impossible, so I knew she had some sage advice.

Interestingly it also involved a snow laden scenario.  Not of pushing a tube up a hill, but instead a snowball.  She says she often thinks of her projects and community movements as snowballs that are being pushed up a mountain.  At the beginning many people will gather around to help push but when things get tough some fall away.  She keeps her team and volunteers motivated by painting the picture of what will happen once they reach the top of the mountain.

Whatever size snowball they have could roll to the summit; the minute they push it over the other side of the mountain it will gain momentum.  It will pick up speed, size and people who want to be involved.   But none of that happens without finding a way to get to the top with the people who are willing to go with you.

Over the last few months I have read, watched and been inspired by the profiles of the News Press People of the Year nominees and recipients.  These are fellow residents who have accomplished amazing things over the past year.  As my friend shared her story I realized that everyone featured had pushed their own proverbial snowballs up some pretty steep mountains.

Overcoming health issues, human trafficking, business challenges, being under the microscope of the public eye, or finding their way as a next generation leader.  Each story has both its snowball up the mountain and down the mountain moment (You can still find the stories by clicking here).

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we also have the great honor and privilege of supporting nonprofit organizations of all sizes and missions in our region.  I see these teams working hard to tackle issues facing the environment, poverty, education, animals, the arts, health and safety, and community development.  They work hard but they need the support of our region.   Just like the tubers who ride in groups, the journey up hill is always better when taken together.

So what snowball or tube are you trying to push up the hill?  Or who could you help up the mountain?  Whichever it is, remember the ride down is worth it and as a semi-pro people (and their causes) watcher, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.