Community Foundation of Sarasota County Issues Grants in Support of Placemaking, LGBTQ+ Initiatives, Cultural Development & the Arts

Categories: BELONGING AND CULTURE: Cultural Development & the Arts, Board of Directors, COMMUNITY CARE: Placemaking: Housing, Transportation & Economic Support, EMPOWERMENT AND SUCCESS: Lifelong Connections, Grants,

SARASOTA, FL – The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has issued several grants to local nonprofits to enhance programs that support placemaking, LGBTQ+ initiatives, and cultural development and the arts, providing greater access to opportunities for families and individuals across the community.


The Community Foundation’s board of directors recently approved a $100,000 grant to Harvest House, an area nonprofit providing service-enriched housing programs. This grant will enable more families to achieve economic stability and sustainability through supportive placemaking. The Community Foundation’s Vice President of Community Impact, Kirsten Russell, shared that the funding will be used to support permanent housing for families, including many headed by single mothers.

“The need for supportive housing and social safety nets are critical to our community's health,” says Russell. “Our 2Gen work often points to affordable housing as a major barrier for families working to be economically stable. Harvest House is one of the organizations in our community that addresses housing on multiple levels while also providing essential case management and support services to help move families closer to economic stability. This grant will help Harvest House further their goals and extend their mission to more families community-wide.”

According to Erin Minor, Executive Director of Harvest House, this grant support will allow Harvest House to improve the properties in ways that are not possible with the reduced rent payments made by residents, enhancing the family-friendly atmosphere and services that add stability to the lives of those who live at Harvest House.

“Affordable rentals are what keep families from cycling in and out of our emergency shelter and other supportive housing programs,” said Erin Minor, Executive Director of Harvest House. “Support like this makes all the difference for families who need a home.”

EMPOWERMENT & SUCCESS: Lifelong Connections

Through the Community Foundation’s Community Impact Grant program, the Harvey Milk Festival’s #Wesupport campaign was granted $9,500 to educate and empower local businesses to better understand the diverse issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and their families. In addition to receiving educational materials, participants will have the opportunity to participate in a LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity training led by #Wesupport consultants. Businesses will also have the option to take a pledge that will serve as their commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace environment for everyone in the community. To learn more about this campaign, or to register a business, visit

“Addressing emerging needs and opportunities is at the heart of our Community Impact Grant committee,” says Abigail Oakes, Director of Community Impact at the Community Foundation. “The #Wesupport campaign demonstrated an unexpected opportunity for collaboration that could empower community members to take a more active role in embracing diverse perspectives, ultimately strengthening our community.”

BELONGING & CULTURE: Cultural Development

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.

“Through our grant programs, we are striving to build an inclusive community culture where everyone can realize their full potential,” says Russell. “The Van Wezel Foundation’s continued commitment to our greater region in addition to providing access for all audiences is an important part of fulfilling that goal and is truly worthy of applause.”

Since 1987, The Van Wezel Foundation in partnership with the City of Sarasota has provided more than $14 million in grants to arts education and capital projects at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

“We imagine a place committed to artistic excellence, innovation and courageous exploration,” says Cheryl Mendelson, Chief Executive Officer of the Van Wezel Foundation. “We are fortunate to have spectacular artist, thinkers and performances but our greatest fortune is the community we inspire. Our goal is to hear people’s aspirations for the new Performing Arts Center as a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you.”

Additionally, nearly $3 million in grants have been generously contributed by living donors, including a $100,000 anonymous donation to the Flanzer Boys and Girls Club in Arcadia towards its $2.4 million capital campaign to renovate its campus.

Since its founding in 1979, 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.


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.