Community Foundation of Sarasota County Awards $58,000 Eight Local Nonprofits to Stimulate Parent Leadership Strategies

Categories: BELONGING AND CULTURE: Strengthening Families, Two-Generation Approach,

Funding supports organizations serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties.

SARASOTA, FL – The Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s first Parent Leadership Grant funding has been awarded to eight local nonprofits that have committed to including parent voices in their decision-making. A total of $58,000 has been awarded.

The Parent Leadership Grant is a new opportunity offered by the Community Foundation, made possible because of a generous donor, that supports the foundation’s longstanding commitment to 2Gen (or Two-Generational) approaches to family empowerment. A tenet of 2Gen approaches is inviting people with lived experience to help develop support systems for families that rely on nonprofit programs and services. This approach ensures parent and caregiver perspective informs program design, resting on the belief that those most aware of and proximate to challenges can best advise on effective strategies for helping families and championing systems change in human services.

The Parent Leadership Grant helps nonprofit organizations develop parent advisory councils or otherwise invite family feedback in developing worthwhile programs, ensuring access to families of all types, and providing supports that help propel families forward. Funding will be used to support parent involvement by treating their experience as a skill that, like other skills, warrants investment. Parents will be paid for their time, and barriers to participation, such as childcare, will also be covered.

“Key to innovation is listening to all voices and generating ideas that come from experienced sources,” said Kirsten Russell, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation. “Inviting parents to the table and recognizing their experience as a valuable skill will lead to outcomes that are impactful and meaningful to families”

The following nonprofits were awarded:

United Way of Charlotte County, an agency that convenes resources and mobilizes the power of community to break the cycle of poverty.

Women’s Resource Center, which empowers women of all ages through counseling, education, guidance and resources.

Embracing Our Differences, which many recognize from the annual art exhibition at Bayfront Park, aiming to promote celebration of the diversity of human experience through the power of art.

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, supporting the excellence of Sarasota Memorial Hospital through the funding of equipment, staff education, and clinical research, among other critical resources.

Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation (formerly the Van Wezel Foundation), which aims to provide enriching arts experiences to all people to advance education and inspire minds.

Ringling College of Art and Design, to support family feedback on the visitor experience for the College-owned Sarasota Art Museum.

Parenting Matters, an organization that empowers parents to be their children’s most positively meaningful teachers, strengthening families through parent education.

Links to Success, which connects youth with resources, services, experience and guidance that prepare them for post-secondary success.

The Power of Parents

Based on the idea that parent and child well-being are inextricably linked, 2Gen strategies disrupt intergenerational cycles of poverty through supporting both children and their parents or caretaking adults in their lives simultaneously and intentionally.

“Research shows that the most reliable predictors of a child’s success are their parents’ income and education levels,” Russell said. “2Gen strategies elevate families by reducing barriers that can get in the way of parents’ education. Returning to school provides a pathway to stability and simultaneously models the importance of education to their children. It changes the trajectory of their children’s lives.”

The 2Gen philosophy has girded many of the Community Foundation’s initiatives since 2012, from parent scholarships for higher education to literacy support for youngsters. While focusing on whole families is not a new notion, the approach has been formalized through work of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, which convenes leaders from around the globe to innovate ideas that support multigenerational success.

The Parent Leadership Grant bridges the gap between those who determine and execute systems and those for whom the systems are designed. For this grant cycle, the Community Foundation’s Parent Advisory Council—parents who have benefited from 2Gen support and inform the Community Foundation’s approaches to family empowerment—served on the review committee.

As a partner to more than 700 nonprofit organizations serving the region, a primary function of the Community Foundation is to support strategies that empower nonprofits to be inclusive and intentional in developing programs and services.

For nearly 45 years, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has been key to unlocking possibilities for everyone who calls our area home. Through the generosity of donors and the trust of the community, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $435.8 million in grants and scholarships to support education, health and human services, the arts, the environment, animal welfare, and other needs that enhance quality of life. To learn more about available grant opportunities, visit


About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County: The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of $489 million in more than 1,580 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $40 million dollars last year in the areas of education, the arts, health and human services, civic engagement, animal welfare and the environment. Since its founding, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $435.8 million to area nonprofit organizations in our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit or call (941) 955-3000.