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CAUSE & EFFECT: We’ve Got Your Back, Southwest Florida

CAUSE & EFFECT: We’ve Got Your Back, Southwest Florida

It is a miracle that any of my three children learned to ride a bike.  All of them turned out to be great cyclists but can’t assign any of the credit to me.  I did all of the traditional things necessary for the childhood bike riding journey.  Starting with small red tricycles, graduating to the training wheels’ phase and then the big kid bikes under our Christmas tree.  I even ran alongside each of them holding the back of the seat for balance to try and launch them on their independent adventures around the neighborhood.

The break down in the process occurred because I wouldn’t let go of the back of the seat.  As most kids do in the early stages bike riding boot camp, they begged me not to let go.  Most parents realize that the big moment comes when you let go and they go riding away, forgiving you for letting and happy they are on their own and peddling off into the sunset.

But I got stuck in the promise to have their bikes and their backs and I wouldn’t let go.  I wasn’t avoiding their independence, I just wanted them to trust that I was still back there.

Fortunately, they each figured out how to coast the bikes down a slopped driveway without me and had the sense I was there for them when or if they needed me.

There is something about knowing someone has your back literally and figuratively.  It allows us to take chances, try something new, gain motivation or persevere when the road gets rough.

The theme of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s 2017 annual report to the community is We’ve Got Your Back, Southwest Florida.  We landed on this idea because a big part of our commitment to our donors, partners and the region is being there when needed.

The Foundation wants to be a trusted resource and someone you can count on when it comes to creating your vision for positive change, generosity and community involvement.

In the annual report, which you can access on our website ( click on NEWS, or directly at we share the impact YOU have helped create through establishing funds to guide your giving, supporting others in times of disaster and joining us in community initiatives like workforce transformation, access to behavioral health services and attainable housing.  We also share how we have had the backs of each county in our region, corporate partners designing philanthropic strategies and neighbors affected by tragedies.  We have our community’s back with our plans for the new LEED Gold certified Collaboratory and Tech Hub we are launching through the renovation of the Atlantic Coast Rail Depot in downtown Fort Myers.

You will also read about our record assets, we passed the $100 million benchmark, strong investments, $5.3 million distributed through grants to empower nonprofits, and scholarships to assist students in completing college and certifications, as well as our community leadership work.

We know that it is the community working together that creates these stories, and it is our honor to be walking alongside you holding the back of the metaphoric bicycle seat if you need it.  Don’t worry we won’t let go.

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, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $111 million, it has provided more than $71 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. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. 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