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Shark Tank for Veterans Awards Grants to Top Veterans

Shark Tank for Veterans Awards Grants to Top Veterans


FGCU Institute for Entrepreneurship Hosts Second Annual Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program

FORT MYERS, Fla. (June 28, 2017)– Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Institute for Entrepreneurship concluded the second annual Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program with the Frank Stern Compassionate Shark Tank Event featuring $55,000 in prize money on Saturday May 6, 2017. During the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program, 35 veterans participated in hands-on workshops with FGCU faculty, staff, and mentors from the community to start, grow, or revamp their businesses.

Two local foundations teamed up to provide funding for the program. The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the FAR-MAR Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, provided monetary awards to the Institute for Entrepreneurship to award to the veterans.

The top prizes of $10,000 were awarded to Darren Hutton and his company GC3, Luis Cuevas with Freedom Point Defense, Benjamin Barile with Eco-Spacer, and Joseph VanHese with Brothers-in-Arms BBQ. Second place prizes of $5,000 were awarded to David Breese with Breeze Home Services, Carlo Santa Ana with Anchor Coffee, and Victor Martinez with Fortress Home Watch. Third Place prizes of $2,500 were awarded to Scott & Joe Turner with Tree Alarm. Kevin & Carolyn Shaw with KCS T-shirts, John Domino with Mentor-To-Go, and Joseph Cofield with Constitution Project.

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation (RMSFF) was created in 2004 by Best Buy founder Dick Schulze. Schulze and his family recognize that a good education, a supportive family, and a strong work ethic are important ingredients for creating successful lives. With that in mind, Dick believes it critical to provide people the tools to become independent and self-sufficient so as to live fulfilling and productive lives. To support that belief, the Foundation provides grants to organizations operating in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, human and social services, and health and medicine.

The FAR-MAR Fund was established by Frank Stern, a self-made millionaire who never dressed the part or lived extravagantly.  Every dollar he saved – more than $4 million over 14 years – was endowed to a donor-advised fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation upon his death at age 95 in February 2014.

“It is people like Frank who inspire us in our work to do everything we can as effectively and efficiently as possible to create change in our region,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

For more information, contact Amy Ridgway, Program Coordinator, at (239) 590-7324, or [email protected].

About the Institute for Entrepreneurship:

The Florida Gulf Coast University Institute for Entrepreneurship is an advocate for student entrepreneurship and innovation. The Institute provides students with genuine support and a strong foundation of knowledge from which to pursue entrepreneurial aspirations. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of FGCU faculty, student graduates, and a variety of community partners in Southwest Florida. We strive to create camaraderie between these groups, and emphasize the need for an entrepreneurial spirit between FGCU and its constituents. For more information, visit or email [email protected]. Visit us on Facebook at


About the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation:

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation began its work in 2004 with the charge from its founder to support transformational change for the benefit of mankind. The Foundation has consistently directed its primary efforts and resources toward matters of importance in human & social services, education, and health & medicine. It continues to do so today with a focus on investments that produce specific and measurable outcomes with a geographic emphasis on the Twin Cities (Minnesota) seven-county metropolitan area, and Lee and Collier counties in Florida.  In all of its activities, the Foundation embraces its founder’s beliefs in the value of innovation and in improving the lives of middle- and working-class families. For more information, visit

About the Southwest Florida Family 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 over 400 philanthropic funds and/or have contributed to one of the Foundation’s funds to be part of the Foundation’s mission. Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. As part of their mission, the Foundation serves as the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. For more information, visit

About Veterans Florida:
Veterans Florida, a 501c(3) corporation established by the State of Florida as part of the Florida GI Bill, reinforces Florida’s standing as the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. Veterans Florida provides workforce solutions to Florida businesses and entrepreneurship training to Florida military veterans. The board of directors is comprised of nine individuals from across the state appointed by the Governor, Florida Senate President, and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. For more information, visit



Carolyn Rogers
Carolyn Rogers