Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Donors Issue $867,400+ in Grants Supporting Animal Welfare, Health Care, School Readiness, and Summer Education

Categories: COMMUNITY CARE: Health & Hunger, EMPOWERMENT AND SUCCESS: Literacy Support, Grants, Nonprofits, Community Impact,

Funds provide support to strengthen nonprofit capacity and address evolving community needs in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Pictured Above: A student participates in the Great Futures Academy at the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County. Photo Credit: Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County.

SARASOTA, FL – The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, alongside its donors, has granted more than $867,400 to nearly 40 local nonprofit organizations in support of programs addressing animal welfare, health care, school readiness, and summer learning. These grants will provide support to strengthen nonprofit capacity, address evolving needs, and assist missions to serve those vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately impacted in the wake of the recent crises.

While previously planned, grants awarded in this cycle provide support needed to cause-driven organizations to address issues revealed by or due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adaptability and innovation are essential to our nonprofit partners as they face evolving needs within our community,” says Kirsten Russell, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation. “While philanthropy is one part of the overall solution, foundations and donors will continue to support innovative approaches that build resiliency and lead to recovery. We should be encouraged by what we see from these grantees and many others as they pivot to address community needs, even in the face of ongoing uncertainty.

COMMUNITY CARE: Animal Welfare, Health & Hunger

With the generous support from the Helen C. Schwieder Fund, Robert Parker Fund, and other significant funds, $173,000 in 2020 Animal Welfare Grants will help promote the humane care of domestic animals within our four-county region while also supporting the care and maintenance of all animals located in Sarasota County that have yet to find a home. Grants were also given to support expenses such as veterinarian visits, medicines, food, and rehabilitative care.

Supported organizations providing service and support to local animal communities include: Animal Network; Charlotte County Homeless Coalition; Crestwood Circus Ranch; Florida Rescue Farm; Forget Me Not; Honor Sanctuary dba Nate's Honor Animal Rescue; Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch; Humane Society Of Manatee County; Humane Society of Sarasota County; Lost Pet Services.; Prospect Riding Center; Satchels Last Resort; Suncoast Humane Society; Underdog Rescue of Florida; Venice Cat Coalition; and, Vintage Paws Sanctuary.

Gifts through the James Franklin Warnell & Dorothy J. Warnell Fund and several other significant funds have provided more than $300,000 in direct assistance to strengthen nonprofit healthcare services within Sarasota County: CAN Community Health; CenterPlace Health; Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities; Epilepsy Services of SW Florida; Good Samaritan Pharmacy & Health Services; Multicultural Health Institute; Operation Warrior Resolution; Pines of Sarasota Foundation; Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center; Senior Friendship Centers; The Florida Center for Early Childhood; and, Tidewell Hospice.

The Masala Giving Circle, a philanthropic organization of African-American women, also donated $5,000 in mid-May to food banks in Sarasota and Manatee counties, with All Faiths Food Bank and The Food Bank of Manatee each receiving $2,500 to support food distributions for communities facing extreme needs.


In a school year disrupted by social distancing and virtual learning, the importance of early childhood learning and building a foundation for lifelong success has never been more critical. In the wake of prolonged school closures, summer programs are finding creative solutions to adapt and create a space for students to feel safe, connected with their peers, and involved in their learning. These efforts will be complemented by the more than $253,000 in Summer Learning Grants supporting programs that engage students of all ages and mitigate learning loss in between school years.

Booker High School received funding to expand its collaborative e-tutoring and mentoring program to four area elementary schools, where high school volunteers will work one-on-one with the elementary students in 30-minute zoom sessions. Participating schools include: Alta Vista, Emma E. Booker, Gocio, and Tuttle elementary schools.

Funding provided to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County will allow them to serve more than 600 students through their Great Futures Academy, which provides learning support for math, literacy, and science in addition to opportunities to engage in other extracurricular activities.

Through enhanced science, math, computer, sustainability, and literacy programming, Girls, Inc. will provide academic support to address the summer slide that was further compounded by distance learning.

To continue learning support despite COVID-19 closures, SOAR Learning Centera community-based after-school program for K-3 students – will offer technology enhanced summer instruction in reading and math to 50 Newtown elementary students in grades K-3.

As the Sarasota County lead for the Campaign for Grade Level reading, we invest in results-oriented programs that prepare children for kindergarten and ultimately to read proficiently by third grade,” says Nicole Light, Education Officer at the Community Foundation. “We believe a whole family, two-generation focus around summer learning and school readiness helps close the achievement gap. Research suggests that mental health support, family visitation and parent engagement led to student success. The programs offered by these organizations are making strides for our children, their families, and ultimately our community.

In addition to summer education, longer-term community support is necessary to sustain learning gains. Through the Allen Wirtz Nobbe and Jo Bowen Nobbe Fund and Two Generation Approach Fund, School Readiness Grants, totaling $139,386, will support and strengthen programs that help young children and their families prepare for school and success in kindergarten in Sarasota County.

A core component of the grant program focuses on providing opportunities for parents to build upon their role as the first and primary teacher of their child, while also developing social capital through building leadership skills and relationships with other families. Grants will also support programs that increase parent and childcare/preschool staff knowledge of child development, expand access and enrollment to preschools, VPK, and other early learning opportunities, and connect families to emergency economic resources, developmental screenings, and mental health services.

From online art classes to audio-guided mindfulness and grade-level reading programs, the following nonprofits are committed to preparing young children and their adults for success: Hope 4 Communities; Inner Explorer; Rotary Club of Sarasota; Safe Children Coalition – HIPPY; TeamUP Volunteer & Partnership Council; and, Van Wezel Foundation.

Looking Ahead

As the community embarks on the path to long-term recovery, the Community Foundation anticipates multiple phases of funding and is collaborating with other local foundations to learn about different community needs. Together, philanthropic and cause leaders will coordinate resources and grant opportunities to further support existing government and private measures, as well as those being developed.

For 40 years, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $274 million to area nonprofit organizations that serve our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses.


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 $418 million in more than 1,500 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $21.5 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 $274 million to area nonprofit organizations to our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit or call (941) 955-3000.