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 leads to increased child development and a reduction in the probability of child abuse and neglect, according to the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Through this research-based approach, engaging family programs and communities focus on enhancing parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parents and child development, having support in times of needs, and building the social and emotional competence of children.
Since 2016, as part of our 2Gen philosophy, we have focused on expanding access to the many educational and cultural attractions of our region for children and their parents or guardians who may not otherwise have the means to visit. Cultural nonprofit partners offering access, special events, and programs at no cost to families include The Ringling, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Asolo Reparatory Theatre, Sarasota Ballet, and others.
Americans are living healthier and longer lives, and – according to Generations United – as we age, adults benefit from vibrant activities and experiences that continue to inform our ever-changing understanding of the world and our own lives.
Through health, educational, and cultural outreach programs, we are supporting programs that bring people, ideas, and viewpoints together, both in-person and through new technologies.
Recent examples include:
- Brain Health Initiative
- UnidosNow’s Parent Program
- WEDU’s “Greater” docu-series showcasing local artists and performers
Open spaces bring people together. An overwhelming majority of U.S. adults (87 percent) say it is important for people to have fair and just access to high-quality park and recreation programs that create healthy, resilient, and economically vibrant communities, according to the National Recreation and Park Association.
In partnership with an anonymous donor, we have committed $1 million to The Bay Park Conservancy to support activation of the 53-acre waterfront park’s initial phase, ensuring park activities are free and bring together people and families of all ages and background from across the region. For several years we have also supported Sarasota Orchestra’s “On the Road” series to bring live music into local parks with free admission, and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s seasonal, no-cost “Food Truck Friday” series designed to connect locals with the outdoors in a social setting.
Cultural Development & the Arts
The 2020 US Census verified that our region’s demographics are changing by age, race, ethnicity and income, creating a more vibrant, creative community. By 2043, more than half the nation will be people of color, and under the age of 65, according to Generations United.
To ensure our heritage of cultural experiences continues to connect with and fully represent our community, we support established and emerging cultural opportunities.
Recent examples include:
- Asolo Rep’s Muriel O’Neil American Heritage Series supporting emerging playwrights
- Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative’s Discovery Series
- The Hermitage Artist Retreat’s Greenfield Prize and Artist Residencies
Building Support & Capacity
Philanthropy is part of our community’s character. We believe everyone can be a philanthropist. In the early 2010s We established The Giving Partner, an online resource to research local nonprofit organizations making a difference in our region. This powerful, searchable database contains more than 700 profiles and reflects each organization’s commitment to transparency by providing information about their results and impact, leadership, financial health and more.
An offshoot of The Giving Partner is a decade-long online giving day called the Giving Challenge. Since inception, our local Giving Challenge has raised more than $75 million through eight challenges. Those funds provide nonprofits flexible, unrestricted funding to improve and enhance our community, and are a catalyst to encourage support of the nonprofit partners that so greatly enhance our community.