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Southwest Florida Community Foundation receives $200,000 grant from Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Southwest Florida Community Foundation receives $200,000 grant from Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Funds will utilize United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for organizational strategy. 

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation has received a $200,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a frame for organizational strategy over the next two years.

Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and addressing social challenges must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation believes that global change begins locally and that utilizing the SDGs is the key to engaging cross-sector community partners, businesses, government, nonprofits, donors and funders in more meaningful ways that deepen and broaden impact.

“The SDGs are both a north star and Rosetta Stone, offering communities a much-needed common language to address local challenges within a global context. The SDGs help us approach community challenges and opportunities holistically so we can use data to understand synergies and trade-offs when engaging in dialogue and making decisions.” Said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Community foundations are critical infrastructure around the world for realizing the 2030 Agenda and transforming our world. That means community foundations must evolve our business model utilizing the SDGs to drive impact and reimagine all aspects of our work through the SDG lens.”

Owen said the Foundation’s visioning, operations, investing, and communications, as well as programs, will be driven by and aligned with the SDGs. Doing so will allow them to add far greater value to their donors, funders, partners, and non-profit organizations in the region while contributing to global impact.

With the $200,000 from Mott and another $197,000 matched by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the Foundation will focus on engaging donors and funders as well as grantmaking and community impact.

“The SDGs provide a framework for global change, driven by local outcomes. The SDGs are interdependent and have universal applicability, creating opportunities to accelerate progress toward social, economic, and environmental sustainability,” said Katie Leone, head of sustainability and impact. “Tackling seemingly insurmountable goals like ending poverty and reducing disparities requires bold collaboration and a detailed blueprint for regional transformation. The SDGs offer us an agile toolkit so we can get to work and improve the quality of life in our region. They also give us a lexicon to exchange our learning with communities around the world so that people everywhere have a greater opportunity to lead fulfilling and prosperous lives.”

This grant will be applied to utilize the SDGs to help financers enhance their impact by strategically investing in areas of greatest need as they inevitably evolve. To accomplish this, the foundation is engaging donor advised fund holders, giving circle participants, and new donors around the SDGs to create more flexible and unrestricted money to support creative problem solving and community ingenuity. The foundation will also develop an internal database of organizations aligned to the SDGs by their mission and strategic priorities. This database will support donors in investing in areas of greatest interest or need. It will also enhance the region’s ability to convene changemakers to rally around relevant issues collectively. Additionally, the foundation will assess the impact of grantees’ work along with the impact if its own projects and programs via the SDGs to illustrate the cumulative impact across a variety of social, economic, and environmental indicators. Such assessment provides a critical feedback loop to the community foundation, its donors, and funders because it illuminates where they are making an impact and where additional resources are required.

The following are specific examples of how the grant will support applying the SDGs as a strategic framework:

  • Enhancing both donor and grantee experiences to improve interactions to spur greater collaboration and impact making
  • Reimagining strategies for developing and inspiring civic engagement and philanthropic giving
  • Increasing financial resources and bandwidth in Southwest Florida to address interrelated social, economic, and environmental challenges
  • Developing the abilities and professional capacities of organizations to utilize the SDGs to work collectively on social innovation and improving the quality of life for everyone in the region

By centering on donors, funders, grantmaking, and community impact, this grant will deepen the Foundation’s application of the SDGs into key components of their organizational strategy. Additionally, the Foundation will continue to fundraise to secure the resources to deeply and comprehensively integrate the SDGs across every aspect of the organization’s business model including community leadership, public engagement, impact investing, collective impact, strategy and operations, communications, and more.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, established in 1926 in Flint, Michigan, by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the United States and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Education, Environment and Flint Area. In addition to Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg and London. With year-end assets of approximately $3.1 billion in 2019, the Foundation made 364 grants totaling more than $133 million. For more information, visit


About the Southwest Florida Community 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 more than 400 philanthropic funds. With assets of more than $134 million, it has provided $83.7 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in Hendry County. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit

Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!