The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s 2014-2015 Annual Report is now available online at www.floridacommunity.com/annual-report.
“2015 was a year of major milestones in the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s work as active change-makers,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The Community Foundation’s total assets of $93.5 million increased 13 percent from the previous fiscal year while investments rose 14 percent. The increases are a result of new funds, additional contributions and investment returns.
Since its inception 39 years ago, the Community Foundation has received $110 million in contributions and distributed $63 million in direct support to the community.
Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It also granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants, including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and an additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.
“Our flexibility, combined with a comprehensive understanding of community needs, attracted more than 150 new contributions and donors during the 2015 fiscal year – people committed to getting things started now while envisioning future needs,” said Immediate Past Board Chairman Joe Mazurkiewicz.
Highlights from the past year include the FutureMakers Coalition launch in March with the backing of Lumina Foundation to improve the quality of Southwest Florida’s workforce. The Community Foundation is engaging local business and education leaders, government officials, nonprofit organizations and community stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue and cradle-to-career strategies to achieve this goal.
A collaborative effort with the Lee County Board of Commissioners resulted in transferring the CompleteLee community sustainability plan to the Community Foundation in 2015. Over time, the infrastructure established during the four-year planning process, along with more than 80 organizations and hundreds of individual stakeholders, will lead to a regional map that guides the Foundation’s commitment to ensuring a high quality of life and change for the common good through an established collective impact model.
“The components of the plan address Community Foundation causes and the nationally recognized pillars of community sustainability,” said Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability at the Community Foundation. “The plan provides measurable outcomes to show the Foundation and our partners how we are making an impact in the areas that lead to the long-term success and desirability of a community. Ultimately, it makes our region a better place to live, work, play and learn.”
The Community Foundation also welcomed its first Florida Fellows from the University of Florida in the summer thanks to the Al and Nancy Burnett Charitable Foundation. The four public interest communications students worked in three local nonprofits that received grants from the Community Foundation. They helped the nonprofits enhance communication and effective storytelling.
The Community Foundation also partnered with the city of Fort Myers to identify opportunities to create greater efficiencies among some of its nonprofit organizations, with a focus on the Imaginarium and the Southwest Florida Museum of History. The yearlong effort allowed the Foundation to contribute to developing plans aimed at establishing a state-of-the-art regional science and history museum and a merged board of directors that would better serve the two organizations and support many of the city’s larger strategic goals. This public-private partnership will improve taxpayers’ return on investment and potentially serve as a catalyst for redevelopment along the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard corridor.
“The Southwest Florida Community Foundation offers customized giving, dedicated to helping every donor find the right opportunity for them, whether it’s a one-time contribution or an endowment that lives on in perpetuity, a family fund or foundation dedicated to a specific cause, or jumpstarting a new idea to fill a community need,” added Owen.
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.
Copies of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s IRS Form 990, IRS Form 990-T, if required, and the current annual audit are available for your review online at www.floridacommunity.com or at its main office by calling 239-274-5900, ext. 228.