Giving Opportunities

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Growing Up Together

Growing Up Together

Florida Weekly and I hit Southwest Florida right about the same time.  I was a little bit ahead of them on the calendar but when they showed up on the scene I gobbled up every page of the weekly paper.   It was a fantastic way to learn more about the community and issues impacting Southwest Florida, not to mention checking out all the photos in the social scene sections.  I felt as if I knew people before actually meeting them in person.

Several years later I was leading a small grass roots non-profit and Florida Weekly was always willing to print stories about our work, ads for our events and photos from our fundraisers.  They not only did it for the organization I worked for but hundreds of others in our community.

They were there for us.

Never did I imagine that a few years later I would have the opportunity to share thoughts and stories on the pages that were my lifeline in my first few years in Fort Myers.  When I joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation team and learned that Florida Weekly donated a weekly column space to the giving spirit in Southwest Florida, I was amazed.  Evidently the column had been in the very earliest issues of the fledgling Fort Myers paper.

This gift of space allows the Foundation and many of its non-profit partners to share innovative programs, stories of local philanthropists, the first published articles by interns embedded in local non-profits, musings by our senior staff members and trustees, and yes, sometimes private moments that my family still wishes I would keep to myself- all in the name of promoting generosity in our region.

500 words a week, for 10 years on charitable giving, philanthropy and community need is an incredible curation of generosity and inspiration.  The remarkable thing is the publishers of Florida Weekly do the same thing for health and wellness, business, animal lovers, and more.

They are here for us.

As if one 10-year birthday wasn’t exciting enough, I also had the opportunity to celebrate this past week with our Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  The contributors to this fund have supported women and girls in our region through nearly $140,000 in grants in areas such as domestic violence, STEM mentoring programs, neighborhood resources, employment skills and literacy.  With an endowment of nearly $660,000, these women are planning for the women and girls of the future as well.  Most recently Impact Dunbar joined the WLF family to focus specifically on women and girls in the Dunbar community.

They are there for women and girls in Southwest Florida.

Being around for 10 years is a remarkable accomplishment, but using those years to make a difference in our community is a real reason to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Florida Weekly and Women’s Legacy Fund, it’s been great watching you grow.


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 or call 239-274-5900.





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