Florida Weekly Column

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]

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community Love Notes

Community Love Notes

Last week I was driving down College Parkway in Fort Myers and noticed a car stalled out in a turn lane.  A moment later people were racing across the road from a nearby convenience store, pulling over their cars and jumping out to help the young driver push the car to a gas station parking lot.  There were so many people helping I think they could have picked the car up and carried it away.

Others were friendly honking and cheering them on, and I smiled and proclaimed out loud to no one, “I love this place.”  It is encouraging and inspiring to see people come together to help their fellow man.

I was feeling particularly positive since this chance siting happened to fall on Valentine’s Day and I had spent the morning meeting with our team at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect holiday to consider and celebrate philanthropy.  At its core philanthropy means ‘love of humanity.’  Our team was reflecting on the work we see so many of our donors and nonprofits advancing in our region.  Acts of generosity and compassion that are fueled by love.

Our team also recognizes that there are challenges and opportunities facing our region that philanthropy has the potential to impact. But in the spirit of community and Valentine’s Day I asked them to consider and share what they loved about Southwest Florida, their work in the region and the generosity they see in others.

Throughout the day they took a few minutes and captured their thoughts on a white board as a love note to the community and I wanted to share some of them with you.

  • I love the environment
  • I love helping people
  • I love our new LGBT fund and the founding donors
  • I love the hearts and passion of our nonprofit leaders and their teams
  • I love the beaches
  • I love the FutureMakers Coalition
  • I love our donors and fundholders
  • I love that we receive gifts from all over the world (first gift from Germany!)
  • I love the plan for our new Technology Hub in downtown Fort Myers
  • I love the sunshine
  • I love our Women’s Legacy Fund Prima Donors and contributors
  • I love SWFL’s diversity
  • I love impacting lives
  • I love our (volunteer) board of trustees
  • I love our amazing team

That’s some of our list and we have decided to keep it up for a while.  It would be wonderful to add your words to our board and our love note. What do you love about Southwest Florida?   Reach out to me at [email protected], or post it on our Facebook page @SWFLCF or our Twitter page @SWFLCFnd.

 

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 grants more than $550,000 to local nonprofits

Southwest Florida Community Foundation grants more than $550,000 to local nonprofits

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has awarded $557,036.00 to both established and new programs that are designed to increase the quality of life in sustainable and equitable ways for Southwest Floridians.

Eighteen local nonprofits were granted money from the community foundation’s available Field of Interest funds, as well as individual and corporate donations resulting from foundation’s Compassionate Shark Tank audience.

The nonprofits include: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association – Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, Audubon of the Western Everglades, CROW – Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc., Family Initiative Incorporated, Glades Education Foundation, Inc., Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc., Gulf Coast Symphony, Gulfshore Opera, Hendry County School District, Human Trafficking Awareness Partnerships, I Will Mentorship Foundation, JFCS of Southwest Florida, Lee County Alliance for the Arts, New Mission Systems International, Sanibel Sea School, the School District of Lee County and The Heights Center.

Some examples of the regional funding include Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association – Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s REACHing Southwest Florida (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health). This program provides training for caregivers of people with Alzheimers to reduce burden and depression, improve ability to provide self-care, provide social support, and help caregivers learn how to manage difficult behaviors in care recipients.

The Hendry School District’s Clewiston Industrial Mechanics Program will focus on providing training and a link to employment in the area of industrial and farm mechanics. A huge demand for this high skill high wage trade exists within the community. Providing this training will help bridge an unemployment gap as well as provide a qualified workforce locally trained.

The Heights Center’s Teach.Learn.Connect (T.L.C.) program will allow parents to receive training for three hours each week on such topics as: forming positive relationships, building self-esteem, positive discipline, conflict resolution, communication, the power of encouragement, fostering responsibility and resiliency, routines and structure, interactive literacy, math and more. Training will be presented by certified professionals and will incorporate time for parents and children to work together as new skills are practiced.

The first award from the new Fund for the Environment of Southwest Florida was granted to Audubon of Western Everglades’ Protection of Vital Wetlands and Habitats in Southwest Florida which works to preserve as much Southwest Florida wetland acreage via “smart growth” where it does the least environmental damage while still providing benefit to the local economy.  Building in environmentally sensitive areas jeopardizes not only the broad natural vistas many of us enjoy but also wetlands, which are critical for clean drinking water supplies as well as for the health of creeks, rivers, estuaries, beaches and wildlife habitat.

“Awarding this funding is just the start of our partnership with this regional mix of nonprofits,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Foundation.  “We will stay connected with them all year in a learning community where we share information and build our partnerships with the nonprofit and its leadership.”

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.

How are you going to change the world?

How are you going to change the world?

How are you going to change the world?

It was an innocent enough question that I asked each of the young professionals who visited our office last week.  These six young women and two young men were home for the holidays.  They have still not met each other but have so very much in common.  They each answered my query without a pause as if it was something they thought about often and do as they go about their daily work.

A former Marine and senior level patent examiner at the US Patent Office, an assistant state attorney, a new mother and former Miss Florida and 4th runner-up Miss America who went on to get a masters degree in theology, a CFO for an energy company, a first generation college graduate now finishing a master’s degree program in communication at the University of Vermont on a full scholarship, a head of a Montessori school, an assistant professor in the department of Thoracic Surgery at a major medical institution, a Lee County Public Schools Take Stock in Children alumna who is currently a student studying sports psychology at Cornell — they are all going to change the world but not how you might think!

They are also Southwest Florida Community Foundation scholarship recipients over the last decade. Some live here and some do not.  They all say they are going to change the world starting with wait for it, wait for it…..

COMMUNITY.

Yes, community! The responses varied only slightly and differed only from how they defined community.  Some said they were going to change the world starting with their cities or towns where they lived, others spoke of their colleagues and peers in their chosen careers as their community, or the patients they serve, and another said she was going to change the world starting with her own family.

How are you going to change the world? It’s something we all ponder every day at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  I guess that’s why I asked them.

I used to think that changing the world was such a big thing, as large and as difficult and as magnanimous as our globe.  Where do you start? I thought this so much so that when I used to ask the question I would add a caveat, an extra line like this: “Do you want to change the world? — at least our corner of it?”

I quickly realized with this bunch, they understood the question very clearly without my expanded version.

“With a smile,” said Lindsay Scott. She said if she can brighten just one person’s day, she’s changing the world.

“I would encourage people to seek opportunity,” Lee Visone said. “If one person accomplishes that, then it will have an exponential effect on the world.”

“Oh, I have a plan!” said Dr. Erin Gillaspie. “I am focused on research for lung cancer patients and I want to find treatments to make their quality of life better so we can best treat these people.”

“First I will change my community,” said Nahisha Alabre.  “It’s how I can give back to my community because this community gave me my start. Then if I can change my community, I think it will change the city, then the state, then the country, and then the world, but I have to start small right here where I came from.”

“I have a strong sense of community, I want to help out young people who are following the same path I followed,” said Michael Dignam.  “I want to get involved in an organization like this because it has greatly influenced me.”

“My hope is to first and foremost change the world through my family by supporting and loving my husband and raising our daughter,” said Sierra Jones.  “I want my daughter to learn what it means to be kind and have compassion, I think we need to start at home with our family unit – it’s in our daily interactions with others that will change the world.”

“As a first-generation black woman getting an education, I am changing the world by changing the narrative, and I am giving people a voice who may not necessarily have a platform,” said Jessica Williams. “I am going to continue to do that to change the world.”

So now it’s your turn, how are YOU going to change the world?  We’d love to know.  Please post it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SWFLCF), tweet about it (@SWFLCFnd), email us ([email protected]) or call us (239-274-5900).  If you want to start with your community,  so do we!

 

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, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, the foundation has invested $5 million this year 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.

 

Some Records Are Made to be Broken

Some Records Are Made to be Broken

I recently heard a story in which a man was trying to break a Guinness World Record by rowing the distance in a boat made out of a huge, human-sized pumpkin grown originally to win the record for the world’s largest pumpkin competition.  When his prized pumpkin came up short, he found another record to beat.  I had never heard of a pumpkin boat much less a record for the longest miles rowed in a gourd.

When he set out on his adventure he knew from the folks at Guinness that he needed to travel 8 miles to break the record.  The voyage went off without a hitch and when the 8-mile finish line was in sight he received an urgent text informing him that the old record had been broken the week before with an astonishing 15 mile journey.

So the great pumpkin traveled on and 13 hours later made it to the 25.6-mile mark, crushing the previous record.

I am sure that to the pumpkin growing captain breaking the record was of utmost importance but the rest of us were probably not losing sleep over it.

Records and milestones provide people and organizations unique opportunities to celebrate accomplishments and milestones.  Some are personal bests while others impact entire communities.

In this edition of Florida Weekly you will find the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s annual report to the community. And I am pleased to report that our generous donors have reached a record of their own in 2016:  A record breaking $5 million year of investing in our region.

This is only possible through powerful partnerships with donors, funding partners and a visionary board of trustees.  But it’s not only about the dollars, the investment also represents a diverse funding stream addressing a variety of community opportunities including the environment, social justice issues, economic development, the arts and health, safety and animals, and more.

More resources to support these important causes is a record worthy of being broken every year.

Our goal in 2107 is to create more record breaking moments of change.  I hope we have the tenacity and drive of the pumpkin paddler to not only hit the mark but move way beyond it for the good of our region.

Please read our annual report here in Florida Weekly, and go online at www.floridacommunity.com/annual-report to view the hundreds of partners and supporters of the Foundation’s work.  If you want to get involved and become a change-maker, or simply be part of a record with us, please let me know 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. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, we’ve 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’s Annual Report now available

Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Annual Report now available

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.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation awards scholarships

Southwest Florida Community Foundation awards scholarships

More than $500,000 awarded to 98 students through 72 scholarships funds for high-school seniors, and undergraduate and graduate students 

 

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 27, 2015) –The Southwest Florida Community Foundation recently granted 72 scholarships through a competitive process to local high-school students, and undergraduate and graduate students from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The remaining scholarships awarded were by outside committee and/or designated by school.

For the 2015 scholarship season, more than 1,200 eligible applications were received and reviewed by more than 100 volunteer reviewers. Approximately $518,375 in scholarship money was available through the Community Foundation scholarships this year.

“Thanks to the generous donors who established and continue to support scholarship funds, we are able to assist students entering college or training programs, and adults returning to school,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Students were able to apply for multiple scholarships through the SWFLCF’s online portal, where the volunteer reviewers also logged on to review and score the scholarships based on the criteria set by the scholarship fund donor.

“We offer scholarships for vocational students and not just for attendance at colleges and universities,” said Owen. “As we work closer with the FutureMakers Coalition and our donors, we are able to shift the way scholarships are granted to better benefit the students’ ability to not only access schooling but to complete it.”

According to Owen, examples of some of the more unique scholarships not as highly sought after included scholarships for students with disabilities, student athletes, students pursuing a specific field of study such as teaching deaf or blind individuals, students with a specific church membership or number of community service hours in a particular facility such as a Veterans Hospital, adult students going back to school, students from particular schools or communities, and students pursuing a graduate or professional degree.

New scholarships this year included:

The Dorothy Curtis Brown Scholarship for a student interested in studying early-childhood education in an accredited college or university in Southwest Florida to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in early-childhood education.

The Norman Marcus Scholarship for a student who graduated from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry or Glades County and can demonstrate financial need. This scholarship is for four years or for such a time as will allow the student to complete a college or graduate degree.

The Former Graduate of Everglades City Scholarship provides high-school seniors who are full-time residents of Everglades City a scholarship renewable up to four years.

The Lee County Library Sciences Scholarship Fund for  $1,250 will provide scholarships for Lee County residents pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in library science. Eligibility requirements call for the students to have completed at least 60 semester hours, have at least a ‘B’ average and be able to provide 120 hours of service, paid or unpaid, to Lee County Library System while pursuing the degree or immediately following degree completion.

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 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. To view the scholarship winners, visit http://floridacommunity.com/2015scholars/.

Scholarship Funds and 2015 Student Recipients:

American Association of University Women Sue Gottcent Memorial Scholarship Fund

for Lee County women who are enrolled in accredited programs of study at either two- or four-year accredited institutions. Preference to women 25 years old and older.

Recipients:

Andrea Bruno, Breckinridge School of Nursing at ITT Technical Institute

Ashley Snyder, NOVA Southeastern University

 

Anne M. Fassett Scholarship Fund

For post high-school educational opportunities at the college, community college or technical school level for men and women with a physical disability who use a wheelchair.

Recipient:

Ana Abarca, Florida Gulf Coast University

 

Anne Sturrock Nursing Scholarship Fund

For a student pursuing nursing who is a member, or a child of a member, of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Cape Coral.

Recipient:

Austin Maurer, Bishop Verot High School

 

Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce/Ralph A. Richardson Fund

For Estero High School graduates or high-school seniors or children of a current Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce member continuing their education at a college, university or vocational/technical school.

Recipients:

Ryan Lohan, Estero High School

Antonella Valencia, Estero High School

 

Carl E. Brooks Scholarship Fund

For college-bound students of one or more immigrant parents.

Recipients:

Sindee Daris, Barron Collier High School

Pangzhao Zhu, Clewiston High School

 

Carol Patti McLaughlin Scholarship Fund

For a student pursuing a four-year degree at an accredited college or university who has a 3.3 GPA or higher, demonstrates community service and is from Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades county.

Recipient:

Gharenn Alabre, Dunbar High School

 

Chet and Janett Perry Rotary Club of Fort Myers Scholarship Fund

For a student pursuing a career in accounting.

Recipient:

Gharenn Alabre, Dunbar High School

 

Chip Johnson Memorial Scholarship Fund

For students who have completed 60 hours of college and plan to attend Barry University, Florida Gulf Coast University, NOVA Southeastern Universtiy, Florida SouthWestern State College or Hodges University.

Recipients:

Sheronia Garcia, Hodges University

Jeffrey St. Firmin, NOVA Southeastern University

 

 

Couse-Gram Scholarship Fund

For a Moore Haven Senior High School student pursuing post-secondary education.

Recipient:

Melany Williams, Moore Haven Senior High School

 

City of Sanibel Employee Dependent Scholarship Fund

For dependents of Sanibel City employees to attend a college or university.

Recipients:

Hayden Cummins, Florida Gulf Coast University

Allison Eicher, Florida SouthWestern State College

Connor Tomlinson, University of South Florida

James Dowling

Dakota Phillips

Alec Worth

Shane Worth

 

David G. Robinson Arts Scholarship Fund

For tuition for Lee County high-school seniors who plan to study the arts in an accredited school.

Recipient:

Monique Rice, Cypress Lake High School

 

Doc Keen Memorial Scholarship Fund

For a high-school student who was an active member of 4-H or FFA for two consecutive years and attended a Clewiston or LaBelle High School.

Recipients:

Rachel Creagh, Clewiston High School

Thomas Ryan Grant, Labelle High School

 

Drs. Ira and Udaya Dash Nursing Scholarship Fund

For a student studying nursing at Florida SouthWestern State College or Florida Gulf Coast University.

Recipient:

Judith Galindo, South Fort Myers High School

 

Doris W. Frey Memorial Scholarship Fund

For students studying Christian ministry/youth ministry, Christian counseling, nursing or medicine.

Recipients:

Dara Craig, Cypress Lake High School

Chidrine Frederic, Golden Gate High School

Jonathan Skaggs, Evangelical Christian High School

 

Dunbar Heritage Scholarship Fund

For a Dunbar High School graduate of African-American descent to pursue a bachelor’s degree at an accredited college.

Recipients:

Regine Cooper, Dunbar High School

Rodney Wallace, Dunbar High School

 

Edna & Felix Swain Scholarship Fund

For a student going to college who is a parishioner of Mount Olive Church.

Recipients:

Chayana Burnside

James C. Givens

Joshua Wilson,

 

Ellen Sheppard Scholarship Fund

For a Lee County high-school senior or a graduate currently enrolled in an accredited college or university pursuing a degree in art (specifically visual arts – painting, photography or sculpture) or nursing.

Recipient:

Lauren Sheppard, Florida SouthWestern State College

 

Faye Lynn Roberts Education Scholarship Fund

For women pursuing a career in technical studies, court reporting, computer training or nursing.

Recipient:

Lauren Sheppard, Florida SouthWestern State College

 

Former Everglades City High School Graduate Scholarship Fund

For a high-school graduate of Everglades City in Collier County who has at least a 3.0 GPA and plans to attend college full time.

Recipient:

Mark Houston Brown, Jr., Everglades City School

 

Francis Harris Gresham Scholarship Fund

For tuition for college-bound seniors from Lee County high schools.

Recipient:

Ian Sexton, Dunbar High School

 

Frances H. Waldron Scholarship Fund

For a high-school graduate of Immokalee High School in the current school year with a grade point average within the range of (and including) 3.2 to 3.4.

Recipient:

Junette Desrosier, Immokalee High School

 

G. Napier and Ellen T. Wilson Scholarship Fund

For an outstanding high-school student who has volunteered at a Veterans Administration Hospital, clinic or similar organization providing services to military veterans to attend an accredited university, college or vocational technical institution.

Recipient:

Ryan Pinosky, Barron Collier High School

 

George E. Judd Scholarship Fund

For tuition for graduating Lee County seniors pursuing higher education in the fine or performing arts.

Recipients:

Amy Alvarado, North Fort Myers High School

Monique Rice, Cypress Lake High School

 

Howard P. & Magdalen K. Breitenbach Scholarship Fund

For a needy student who was either a service member or is a child or grandchild of a service member who was in the United States Navy.

Recipients:

Eavan Donovan, Naples High School

Mia Raymond, Cape Coral High School

Andrew Salyer, North Fort Myers High School

 

Isabel Mayer Kirkpatrick Scholarship Fund

For tuition for Lee County high-school graduates with a ‘B’ average (3.0 to 3.7 GPA).

Recipient:

Amanda Duffy, Fort Myers High School

 

James Bilder Scholarship Fund

For Lee County high-school students to pursue higher education with preference given to students attending vocational/technical schools.

Recipients:

Regine Cooper, Dunbar High School

Katherine Jones, Ida S. Baker High School

Jordan Myers, Mariner High School

 

Jane H. Berktold Scholarship

For graduates of Lee County public high schools who are in need of financial assistance.

Recipients:

Melissa Boneta, Dunbar High School

Chelled Crespo, Dunbar High School

Yulixa Grullon, Riverdale High School

 

John & Ruth Childe Scholarship Fund

For a Lee County student with a physical disability to pursue higher education in a college, university or

technical school.

Recipient:

Maxwell Collier, Florida Gulf Coast University

 

James D. and Eleanor F. Newton Children’s Fund

For the winners of the Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science and Engineering Fair.

Recipients:

Caylee Hill, Port Charlotte Middle School

Mackenzie Robbins, Punta Gorda Middle School

 

John and Ellen Sheppard Humane Student Scholarship Fund

For high-school seniors with a belief in a universal creator of life and who are actively involved in school and student life with a commitment to help others through volunteer work in community, charitable or religious organizations.

Recipients:

Elizabeth Cerrina, Riverdale High School

Valerie Segebre, Port Charlotte High School

 

John I. & Madeleine R. Taeni Scholarship Fund

For students pursuing degrees in teaching, nursing, paramedic training or emergency medical technician training.

Recipients:

Yaimis Cruz, Florida Gulf Coast University

Kirstin Yallof, University of South Florida

 

John M. & Mary A. Shanley Memorial Scholarship

For a four-year scholarship to students studying medicine, law, dentistry, teaching (math & science), ministry, engineering, accounting, agriculture, architecture or computer science.

Recipients:

Alec Bigness, Lemon Bay High School

Baurjan (Bobby) Dushanov, Fort Myers High School

Rebeca Gonzalez Jauregui, Ida S. Baker High School

Dave Siwarski, North Fort Myers High School

 

Jordan Abdo Memorial Scholarship Fund

For a North Fort Myers High School student athlete with a GPA of 3.0 to 3.5.

Recipient:

Ajda Muhamedagic, North Fort Myers High School

 

Judge Isaac Anderson, Jr. Scholarship Fund

For a Lee County high-school senior who can demonstrate financial need with a GPA of 3.0 and higher and has strong ties to the community through extracurricular activities, religious endeavors or community service.

Recipient:

Rodney Wallace, Dunbar High School

 

Judge William J. Nelson Scholarship Fund

For a high-school senior who will be attending the University of Florida.

Recipient:

Courtney Reed, Cape Coral High School

 

Julie Willard Mikell Fund

For a financially needy Lee County high-school senior to attend a two- or four-year regionally accredited college or university.

Recipient:

Analynn Stauffer, Oasis High School

 

Lee County Library Sciences Scholarship Fund

Beginning in the year 2015, this fund will provide scholarships for Lee County residents pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Library Science.

Recipient:

Aaron Blumberg, Florida State University

 

Lewis B. Barber Memorial Scholarship Fund

For students pursuing either of the following educational paths: 1) certification to teach the deaf and blind. 2) seminary or pre-seminary school to study church, Christian music or Christian education.

Recipient:

Meghan Mann, Port Charlotte High School

 

Love of Bonita Empowerment Scholarship Fund

For books, tuition, and/or course fees for Bonita Springs residents who have been out of school for at least two years to attend a college or technical school.

Recipient:

Daniel Tatak, FMIT

 

Mary Ann Elder Scholarship Fund

For a student who is entering or continuing a Master degree program in social work at an accredited university or college.

Recipient:

Carolyn Scullion, Florida State University

 

Matt Harmon Memorial Scholarship Fund

For books and tuition for college-bound baseball players.

Recipient:

Jesse Lighthall, Riverdale High School

 

Norman Marcus Scholarship Fund

For a student who is a high-school graduate from a high school in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry or Glades [MK1] counties with at least a 3.0 GPA.

Recipient:

Evelyn Suarez, Oasis High School

 

Paul B. & Aline Flynn Scholarship Fund

For students pursuing a degree from a four-year accredited college in communications or journalism.

Recipients:

Matthew Cartland, Lemon Bay High School

Ballie Ward, Florida State University

 

Richard S. Thompson and Marion L. Thompson Memorial Fund

For Lee County students pursuing a post high school science education.

Recipients:

Leah Colucci, University of Miami

Spencer Ellis, Mariner High School

Shelbi Erp, University of South Florida

Alyssa Goldenhart, University of Florida

Varun Varshney, Canterbury School

 

Robert A. Kleckner Scholarship Fund

For a financially needy high-school, undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a career in finance or accounting.

Recipient:

Eavan Donovan, Naples High School

 

Robert B. and Dorothy Pence Scholarship Fund

For economically disadvantaged Lee County students to attend college or technical school.

Recipient:

Rodney Wallace, Dunbar High School

 

Robert C. & Margaret A. Schikora Scholarship Fund

For needy students who have previously graduated from high schools in Lee County to pursue post-secondary educational opportunities.

Recipient:

Jeffrey St. Firmin, NOVA Southeastern University

 

Ruth Messmer Scholarship Fund

For women pursuing a business career in college.

Recipient:

Emily Treasure, Port Charlotte High School

 

Sanibel Community Church Scholarship Fund: Next Generation Fund Trust

For a child or grandchild of a member of Sanibel Community Church.

Recipient:

Dara Craig, Cypress Lake High School

 

Southwest Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association Fund

For high-school students who are dependents of local law enforcement officers.

Recipients:

Erika Bishop, Gulf Coast High School

Brenda Qualls, Lehigh Senior High School
[MK1]Arranged this the way it reads in the boilerplate.

What a Difference a Day Makes

What a Difference a Day Makes

This morning my husband greeted me on the way to my first cup of coffee with a high five.  I was still half asleep but I did mumble something about feeling as if I was in a high school locker room instead of my kitchen.

Once  fully awake I asked a few more questions to find out if he was just being extra encouraging or if there was hidden meaning behind the midair hand slap. He informed me that it was National High Five Day.  He had plans to celebrate this homage to high fiving all day long.  I urged him to reconsider.

But then he reminded me of my recent obsession with National Pancake Day, National Hot Dog Day and National Donut Day which I took equally seriously.   So I sent him off to work with a sweet kiss on the cheek and an extra enthusiastic high five.

Clearly we need some hobbies, but it did get me thinking about days outside of traditional holidays that we set aside to advocate, honor and draw attention to issues or ideas that are on our minds.  There is something meaningful about setting aside a day and naming it in order to give it special importance.  Sometimes we need to be intentional about our thoughts and actions in order to advance an idea.

Of course I understand that some of the more trivial days are there for pure fun or to promote a specialty food item, but other earmarked days have been the catalyst for movements that create meaningful change.

April 22, 2015 marks one such day.   It is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  Calendars in the late 60s and early 70s were not nearly as packed with special interest days as they are today but an early pioneer in the world of environmental protection, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D) from Wisconsin spent a number of years trying to find ways to encourage his fellow citizens to take notice of green issues like pollution and deforestation.

Senator Nelson did not set out to start a global movement, but rather wanted to provide individual communities the opportunity to focus on the environmental concerns in their own backyards.  He had taken notice that local grass roots organizations were making more headway than larger national efforts.

He took out an ad in the New York Times announcing the first Earth Day and across the country over 20 million people responded.  45 years later they are still responding.  Just take a look around Southwest Florida and there are weeklong rallies, activities and celebrations for all ages to mark the day.  It is a global movement with a focus on local solutions.

At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation we see environmental advocates who embrace the message of Earth Day 365 days of the year- no special day on the calendar is needed.    We interact with donors and southwest Floridians that are asking about our region’s most precious resources and are seeking ways to learn more about our community’s land, air and water.  This was Nelson’s goal. Individuals being made aware of an issue and responding to it in order to effect grassroots change that would then collectively impact a nation and the earth as a whole.

That is a day we can all get behind- maybe even throw in a high five for fun.

If you would like to learn more about environmental efforts you can support all year long in the spirit of Earth Day please reach out to me at [email protected]

I would also love to see pictures or hear stories of your 2015 Earth Day celebrations.

 

 

image from sites.psu.edu