We self-identify through our interests, experiences, jobs, relationships, social activities and environment. The sense of “belonging” grounds us and provides the basis of our own cultural identity. The Community Foundation supports organizations and programs that Strengthen Families, Bridge Generations, Unite the Community, Develop Culture & the Arts, and Build Support & Capacity.

The following are some recent examples of initiatives and support provided to enhance our community:

Strengthening Families

Our Spaces, Our Places

When the Community Foundation launched its 2gen approach to support the family as a whole, it was important to include opening and expanding the gateway to many of Sarasota’s cultural arts and educational opportunities. By targeting local attractions that children, parents (or guardians) can enjoy together, and creating a means for them to spend quality time together, the process of family bonding strengthens. The Community Foundation offers a wide range of opportunities for family members to interact with each other in profound ways.

All Star Children's Foundation

Children who have been removed from their homes when facing abuse or neglect are kept together as family groups with All-Star Children’s Foundation, a transitional residential facility.

By supporting therapists who are caring for these young people as family groups and related therapy services, we hope to introduce and reinforce healthy social and emotional behaviors that keep families connected today and for future generations.

Bridging Generations

Home Sharing

By matching older homeowners in Sarasota with working professionals, the home sharing program offered by Friendships Centers benefits multiple generations through affordable accommodations, economic improvements, and companionship.

Dance the Next Generation

This transformative, free, afterschool program for low-income children in grades 3-12 pairs dance with academics with a goal of high school graduation. Beginning in third grade, students are given free leotards, tights, and shoes and the then transported eight months a year to the dance studio for lessons, homework help and healthy snacks. Students must develop social skill and maintain a certain academic standing. Since 2009, 100% of the students completing the program have graduated from high school.

Uniting Community

The Bay

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, in partnership with an anonymous donor, has committed $1 million to The Bay Park Conservancy to support construction of The Bay’s initial 10-acre phase, as well as activation programming to ensure future park activities bring together people and families of all ages and backgrounds from throughout the region.

Healthy Brain Initiative

To encourage long-term economic and lifestyle development, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has invested in The Brain Health Initiative. The transformative research study of the human brain is to be conducted in Lakewood Ranch by the Academy for Brain Health and Performance and Massachusetts General Hospital, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital.

Cultural Development & the Arts

The Players

The Muriel O’Neil Fund of the Performing Arts at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County provided a gift to kick off the community theatre’s capital campaign to construct a performing arts complex in Lakewood Ranch.

Uniting Culture with Education

Through the Muriel O’Neil Fund for the Performing Arts at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we are able to support the education programs led by Asolo Repertory Theatre’s education director.

Van Wezel Foundation: Outreach Campaign for Future Sarasota Performing Arts Center

To further engage in community-wide discussions surrounding the arts, the Van Wezel Foundation will implement an outreach campaign for its community engagement program for a future Sarasota Performing Arts Center through a grant of $50,000. Through the outreach campaign, the Van Wezel Foundation wants to learn from the community how the future performing arts center can be a beacon of arts programming for generations to come.

Building Support & Capacity

The Giving Challenge

As “Giving Days” build in popularity across the country, the greater Sarasota community has raised nearly $60 million in seven online donation campaigns with the most recent Giving Challenge held in April 2020 raising an astonishing $19.1 million from some 58,000 individual donors in just 24 hours. The Giving Challenge 2020 returns from Noon to Noon, April 26-27, 2022.

Get Involved

Kirsten Russell

Vice President, Community Impact