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CAUSE & EFFECT: Let’s Make the 2020s the “We” Decade

CAUSE & EFFECT: Let’s Make the 2020s the “We” Decade

I’ve always been intrigued by television programs and news articles that look back at past decades and propose overarching themes that seem to characterize them. The 1920s were “roaring,” the 1960s “counterculture,” the 1970s the “me” decade, and the 1980s was the decade when Gordon Gekko summed up the go-go times with his declaration that, “Greed is good,” in the 1987 movie Wall Street.

Such retrospectives spark a question in my mind: if I were able to stand at the doorstep of 2030 and look back at this new decade of the 2020s, how would I characterize Southwest Florida’s experience?

My answer begins with a belief that, day-by-day, we collectively create the history we will look back upon in the future. And at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, we aspire to shape the 2020s here at home as the “we” decade. It’s in that spirit we created Collaboratory to serve as a regional resource that springboards from collective community action.

Embodying the power of “we” is an innovative new program called Kinective, which recently celebrated its inaugural cohort of participants and is currently accepting applications for 2020. Alongside the Foundation and the City of Fort Myers, the initiative is led by our Collaboratory partner organization, SecondMuse.

We think of Kinective as a community-sourced incubator designed to spark and support the collective efforts of regional entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial support organizations, nonprofits and the broader community to achieve collective impact through a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. The goal is to increase the number, effectiveness and sustainability of successful small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Approximately a dozen participants selected during the application process take part in the six-month program. One to two workshops per month focus on the fundamentals of business operations, from crafting a meaningful mission statement that will help guide decision-making to developing and implementing efficient and effective day-to-day operational best-practices. Established entrepreneurs, business executives and community leaders provide mentoring in group settings as well as one-on-ones.

In addition to acquiring new knowledge that will help them build and sustain a flourishing commercial or nonprofit organization, Kinective participants benefit from a highly visible platform in the community that fosters new connections and new opportunities, boosting their capacity to achieve their goals.

Prosperous commercial businesses. Nonprofit capacity-building. Economic development. Community development. In past decades, these were all often considered distinct and separate—siloed “I’s” instead of an intricately connected “we.”

The Foundation’s support of the Kinective program exemplifies our commitment to fostering collective impact by cultivating a healthy and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem of businesses and nonprofit organizations that, in turn, advances a vibrant community.

Such working together in pursuit of a common purpose builds a self-sustaining momentum throughout Southwest Florida, an outcome that both secures our present and lays the groundwork to retain and attract future generations by providing the type of advantageous economic mobility that accompanies robust job opportunities.

Too often when we talk about innovation that can help transform our future, we think in terms of bringing such forward-thinking into the region from outside Southwest Florida. But Kinective is home-grown economic development from the ground up that serves to identify, support and generate enterprising entrepreneurs in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors. It’s about creating connection through shared knowledge, experience and collaboration.

As we stand on the cusp of this new decade we aspire to shape, there are numerous ways to participate in Kinective’s efforts to build a flourishing and sustainable Southwest Florida.

SecondMuse is currently seeking applications for this year’s Kinective cohorts. The deadline to apply is January 10th and the application is available online at Along with the region’s next generation of leaders, mentors willing to share their experience and expertise are essential to the program’s success.

Additionally, there are opportunities for donors to empower positive change for the common good through impact investing, and I would welcome the chance to discuss the philanthropic and community benefits of such an investment in our future.

I’m struck by the realization that our legacy will meet us 10 years from now, as in 2030 we look back at “the decade that was” in Southwest Florida. And we invite you to join with us in the power of “we” to create the future we envision.


About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

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 more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $7.7 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $134.9 million, it has provided $83.7 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it has served since its inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located in the historic Atlantic Coast Line Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit


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