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I’ve Missed You- Let’s Connect

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I’ve Missed You- Let’s Connect

Each summer I turn over this column to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s nonprofit grantee partners. These are organizations who have received funding, made possible by donors, to support change-making work in our region.

I look forward to reading these stories and learning more about their work. They, along with thousands of other nonprofits in our region, are superheroes working hard to make an impact in the community.

This year was no exception and I valued the words and insights from a dozen non-profits from all five counties we serve.  I learned more about collaborations that inspired careers in the arts thanks to the innovations of Gulf Coast Symphony and Lighthouse of Southwest Florida and discovered what Lee Health was leading to tackle opioid addiction.  If you missed any of the summer articles you can find them on our website under the News tab.

I am often tempted to relinquish the space permanently but realize sometimes it’s important for someone other than those inside organizations to do the storytelling about what is happening in the day to day work of water-saving, hunger-fighting, poverty elimination and other issues facing our community.

One of the greatest advantages of writing this column is the interactions I have with the readers. It may be via an email, text, or social media platforms, but in any format,  it is my privilege to hear from and connect with you.

Writing is a one-way communication until the reader responds. It’s two-way communication that informs so much of what we do at the Foundation. It might happen one-on-one with a donor, a meeting between a philanthropist and a social entrepreneur, a group of community stakeholders from a variety of industries discussing an issue like attainable housing, a community wide convening focused on mental health or a meeting with neighbors in their community center to find out what’s on their minds and hearing what they want to see happen in the neighborhood. These connections are critically important to creating change. Connections are the catalyst to partnerships, understanding one another, unity, collaborations, capital, idea generation, ingenuity, the ability to take direct action and love- all the ingredients vital to change.

In the coming season you will hear and see the Foundation team and partners talking about and creating an environment that cultivates deeper and more integrated connections.

But you are an important part of the equation.  Here are a few ways we can connect with each other:



-Thursday, October 17, 2019, people from across Southwest Florida will take part in a single day of conversation about the community and their role in it during On the Table® Southwest Florida. We are inviting residents to host gatherings in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties.  On the Table® gatherings can be mealtime conversations at any point during the day including coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between. Find all the info on hosting or attending a table at

-Volunteer Scholarship reviewers are needed each year to help the Foundation team provide a fair and equitable process of hundreds of applications. Our goal is to have 3 reviewers per scholarship and that means hundreds of volunteers. It’s online so you can do it from home or even on the go as it is a mobile friendly system. If you are interested in helping, please email [email protected].

-Bolder Board Training helps charity boards awaken, articulate and pursue their most magnificent dreams. It teaches boards how to work with their CEOs to create audacious possibilities for impact. It is the first board training designed specifically to offer boards a pragmatic and conscientious alternative to the culture of financial deprivation and constriction that they often find themselves upholding.

It is not a traditional training on governance and finance. It is an immersion in possibility and aspiration that positively and radically disrupts traditional ways of thinking. It is part lecture, part workshop. It is designed specifically for boards. Organizations are encouraged to bring as many of their board members as possible. The training can also serve as a powerful first day to a board retreat. A few seats remain, so register at

-The FutureMakers Coalition aims to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications and other high-quality credentials to 55%.  FutureMakers work along the cradle-to-career pathway to create a skilled and sustainable workforce pipeline. The coalition has grown to over 300 FutureMakers representing business, education, government, nonprofits, philanthropy, residents, and students across Glades, Hendry, Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. Connect by visiting

-SecondMuse Kinective is a community-sourced incubator in Fort Myers alongside the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and in partnership with the City of Fort Myers.  SecondMuse’s incubator focuses on developing the next generation of leaders as well as strengthening the overall economic ecosystem. SecondMuse’s Kinective program helps champion, accelerate and support the growth of startups, nonprofits and creatives in the local area, making Southwest Florida a better place to live and work. If you would like to connect with Kinective as a technical expert or mentor email [email protected]

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 $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 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. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL 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