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Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

As we do every year, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation handed over this column to the nonprofits we fund.  It is such an honor to walk alongside and support some of the most innovative organizations in our region and we love having the opportunity to partner with Florida Weekly to showcase their change making efforts.

If you followed this space over the summer, you had the pleasure of reading inspiring stories from over 20 organizations who shared their work in the region, and 3 Florida Fellows who interned through us with some of these nonprofits.

During my annual column writing sabbatical people often ask where I have been.  My own storytelling keeps me connected with residents even if I have never met them.  I am always thrilled when folks reach out to me at [email protected] in response to something I have shared.   It is interesting that when my writing voice stays silent for an extended period of time some people think I have stopped working or left town in the middle of the night.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  When I am not writing the column, I am anxiously awaiting the next story to come out.  Our communications and storytelling team at the Foundation is actively engaged in the nonprofits to create compelling articles that highlight the change they are creating in the region.

The articles that appeared here this summer were an extension of a year of work that our grantees and partner agencies invested in learning how to strategically communicate their work.

The field of public interest communications, which really means “communications to drive social change,” is expanding and we want Southwest Florida nonprofits to be on the leading edge of the growing field.  We think that if more people with the heart and resources to change our region know what is happening at local nonprofits, the more they will want to become involved.

Sometimes nonprofits are so engaged in realizing their mission they forget to stop and tell others about that work and more importantly the results and impact of what is happening because of their efforts.

More and more, donors and the community at large want to know that their gifts of time and money are creating change.  It is important for the nonprofits who are doing the work to communicate that to their audiences.

Thanks to a Community Foundation donor who shares our passion for communication and storytelling, we could again partner with the University of Florida and the school of Journalism and a professor that specializes in the field of Public Interest Communication to offer training to our grantees in this field.

They travel together as a tribe to Gainesville for intensive training in effective storytelling, impactful writing and social media techniques and bring what they learned back to Southwest Florida.  Additionally for the last two summers we have embedded UF communication majors as interns, known as the Florida Fellows, in some of the organizations to further the impact of the training.

One nonprofit leader told us ‘This was truly a helpful resource,’ and that is one of the best stories about our work that we can hear.

So, no matter if we are reading the stories, writing the stories or supporting others who are, it all adds up to sharing the good work that is happening all around us.  Join us by telling us an inspiring story about the work an organization you care about is involved in.  I am always listening!  Email me at [email protected].

If you’d like to read an archive of the nonprofit submissions, you can find them on our website at


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. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, we’ve 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