Florida Weekly Column

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]

Women’s Legacy Fund’s call for grant applications

Women’s Legacy Fund’s call for grant applications

FORT MYERS, Fla. (June 29, 2015) – The Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation has opened its annual call for grant applications. This year, the WLF will be awarding $20,000 to an organization that increases access to goods and services for women and/or girls in a neighborhood in Southwest Florida.

Examples of programs that increase access to goods and services include, but are not limited to, a plan to distribute reduced cost bus passes to low-income women in the neighborhood to increase their access to goods and services; a series of neighborhood health days with free or low-cost doctors/dentists to increase access to health care; or a youth carnival at a neighborhood park to increase access to recreation.

For this grant cycle, ideas that increase access to food in neighborhoods are not eligible. Additionally, organizations must involve those that they wish to serve in the design of their program idea.

Organizations wishing to apply for the grant must meet the basic eligibility requirements:

Nonprofit organizations exempt from Federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and units of government are eligible. (501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) agencies are ineligible.)
Applicants must be located in and primarily serve residents of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, and Collier counties.
Eligible organizations must be governed by a volunteer board of directors with at least five unrelated members.
Organizations must conduct business without discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin or religious affiliation.

Agency leaders interested in receiving a grant through the Women’s Legacy Fund must submit a LOI (Letter of Idea) between June 29 and July 31. This letter is not a full, traditional Request for Proposal (RFP) but a one-page snapshot of the program/project idea.

LOIs will be narrowed based on alignment with the Women’s Legacy Fund priorities, and the top programs/projects will be invited to the Compassionate Shark Tank on Sept. 10. Applicants will be asked to prepare a three-minute presentation for the panel. The panel will ask questions about the organization’s LOI and presentation.

Awards will be announced in October 2015.

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. In just eight years of existence, the WLF has been able to provide $100,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has more than $400,000 in endowment that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women under 25 years of age). 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.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $88 million, the Community Foundation has provided $61.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $2.9 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. It granted $782,000 in nonprofit grants including more than $551,000 in regional community impact grants and additional $450,000 in scholarship grants.

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