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A Slam Dunk for Students

A Slam Dunk for Students

A couple of years ago I crossed off an odd addition to my bucket list when I judged a slam dunk contest at the City of Palms Basketball Tournament. I have never been a skilled athlete but I love to watch most all sports and basketball is no exception. Who can deny the thrill of watching a player race down the court, fly over opponents and slam the ball for a dunk in the net while the crowd goes wild. It makes 2 points so much more exciting when they come via the dunk.

For Southwest Florida the dunk took on a whole new meaning last year when thanks to the stunning performance of the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles Men’s basketball team in the NCAA Tournament our community gained national attention and will forevermore be known as “Dunk City”.
So imagine the thrill for a middle aged woman who had judging a slam dunk contest on her bucket list when Sherwood Brown, the 2012-2013 Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year and Mr. Dunk City himself, agreed to help the Southwest Florida Community Foundation get the word out about a critical issue in our region; successfully launching high school seniors into their next chapter in life.

I cannot begin to express how much Sherwood and his family desire to help others and to give back to this community. When the Foundation was looking for someone that could connect with the regions high school seniors, their families, teachers and the community at large, Sherwood Brown was at the top of our list. He and his family told us they could identify with how difficult it was for students to find the resources and information necessary to take the post high school step into college or training for a career and they wanted to help. Sherwood recently spent some time in Southwest Florida filming Public Service Announcements that will be broadcast in schools and throughout the community letting students and their families know the resources that are available to them.

This week, the Foundation is hosting a regional season opener for our FutureMakers program that connects high school seniors with the resources they need to make college or career training a reality. A big part of the solution for many of these students is applying for federal student aid that is available through an online application known as FASFA. This application opens up a wide range of financial assistance programs and grants that make college and training possible for our students, but historically only about 35% of our seniors have been filing this important paperwork.

The FutureMakers program partners (the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Champions for Learning, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast and Southwest Florida Works) have been working all year connecting students with mentors who can help guide them through this process. January marks the opening of the FASFA process for 2014-2015, so our team wanted to be sure that we spread the word and inspired folks in the community to get involved.
At our “season opener” on January 16th at 4pm at Hodges University in Fort Myers we will hear from students and their mentors, share in the excitement as students take their next big step, reveal Sherwood’s PSAs with the crowd and announce an exciting new scholarship contest for our local students.
If like me, making a really dunk on the courts is not in your future, getting involved with FutureMakers could give you the opportunity to make a slam dunk in a student’s life. You can even add it to your bucket list.

If you would like to learn more about the program and how you can get involved email me at [email protected]

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has been supporting the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, and Collier counties since 1976. With assets over $72 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $57 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. For more information, please call 274-5900, or visit our web site at


Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More