At the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we are committed to empowering community members by providing support that helps individuals develop the knowledge and skills needed to realize a fulfilled life.
Our approach to empowerment involves collaborating with community partners, leveraging their expertise, and connecting this expertise to meet the needs of individuals. Following are examples of our approach in action.
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading through a 2Gen Lens
30% of Sarasota County’s third graders are not reading at grade level – most of whom come from vulnerable families. Without proficient reading skills, a child’s chances of graduating from high school or having a successful career decrease sharply. The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a nationwide call-to-action to reverse this trend by mobilizing individuals, nonprofits, government agencies and local foundations within communities to address this challenge. Since 2014, the Community Foundation has spearheaded a collaborative initiative in Sarasota County to achieve and sustain grade level reading proficiency. Our approach to grade level reading, incorporates the 2Gen philosophy so that not only are children empowered to achieve their reading goals but also the whole family is empowered to realize greater success.
Strauss Literacy Initiative
Helping children of all ages obtain the skills and support needed to read proficiently for their age was the driving force behind the development of the Ira and Patricia Strauss Fund for Children’s Literacy. With a primary focus on assisting those children challenged with dyslexia or any other obstacle to the development of their reading proficiency, new parameters and opportunities for this fund are currently in development.
“EdExploreSRQ” Student Learning
Our region offers an array of artistic, scientific, and cultural activities that offer educational opportunities for teachers and families. EdExploreSRQ is a web-based gateway offering more than 250 unique community experiences for K-12 students — including field trips, virtual explorations, cultural events, and in-class activities. The Community Foundation provides funding through rolling grants that enable teachers to apply for exploration funding throughout the year, allowing teachers to maximize the learning connections between an exploration and student lessons.
Donors Ron and Carole Beckman, who have a passion to permanently redirect the life trajectory of challenged, disadvantaged youth and create opportunities for them to yield lifelong successes, created the “Beckman Boost” a scholarship program that offers select students an opportunity to earn full academic scholarships in partnership with Take Stock in Children of Sarasota County.
Any Given Child
Any Given Child Sarasota is a partnership between the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Sarasota County Schools, supported by the Community Foundation. The program is designed to provide equity and access to high quality arts education for all students.
Higher Education Scholarships
The Community Foundation believes all students who wish to pursue higher education should have equal opportunities to achieve their goals, and for this reason is proud to offer scholarships that can minimize the financial barriers to earning an education and entering the worksforce. These scholarships are available to all students pursuing higher education and are designed to satisfy a wide variety of academic interests and fields. Scholarships programs are divided between students under 24 years of age and students 24 years of age or older.
Parent Success Program
The Community Foundation uses a transformative two-generation (2Gen) approach to educational success and economic security for families. Our focus is on a continuum of support to address both children and parents together with the goal of harnessing a family’s full potential. We work with community partners to leverage resources and expertise that leads to successful outcomes for the whole family.
Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC)
The Community Foundation works collaboratively with the SNAC to advance the number of nursing graduates and working nursing professionals — including RN, BSN, Doctorate and PhD-prepared nurses with attention to diversity — in our four-county area. By providing educational funding, scholarships, mentoring, loan repayment programs and practical information, the program is working towards accelerating an increase in our highly educated nursing workforce.
Environmental Discovery Awards & Internship Program
The "Environmental Discovery Awards Program" (EDAP) funds paid, field experience internships for students pursuing degrees related to environmental studies at regional colleges. EDAP is organized by the Cross College Alliance, which focuses on sharing resources to improve higher education and student life at New College of Florida, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Ringling College of Art + Design, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
Women’s Resource Center
Our two-generation support of families is demonstrated through the work of the Women’s Resource Center, which has a direct line with the Eagle Academy at Alta Vista Elementary School, a Community School focused on student and family success through education. By supporting caseworkers, the Women’s Resource Center is able to help with system navigation and advocacy support, enabling parents to achieve greater professional success to empower the entire family.
Families today cross multiple generations and the needs are varied. For those caring for older family members affected by health issues, Friendship Centers provides support not just for the person in need, but their caregivers as well.
Transportation for Individuals with Vision Impairments
One of the most difficult challenges for people with visual impairments is finding reliable, safe, and affordable transportation. It is a significant limiting factor influencing people’s ability to secure employment and to do what they need and want to do. The quality of people’s lives is strongly connected to their ability to secure transportation. We are proud to support ITNSuncoast’s efforts to provide transportation to individuals with vision challenges at an affordable rate, which is a significant issue for individuals with vision challenges. Estimates of unemployment and underemployment among people in this population group range from 70 to 85%.
Harvey Milk Festival: #WeSupport Campaign
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 https://harveymilkfestival.org.