Foundation Report - Top 15

By Ruth Lando September 1, 2009

Top 15 List


It’s been 30 years since the Community Foundation began connecting people who care passionately about their community with the causes that really matter, helping them make an impact on the arts, culture and humanities; education; civic engagement; health; human services; animal welfare and more.

In this special anniversary year, our donors made it possible for so many meaningful gifts to others. There were modest successes, such as buses that transported Gocio Elementary School’s entire fourth grade to a field trip to Historic Spanish Point. And there were big initiatives aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, such as "Save My Life," an educational outreach program for at-risk pregnant women, geared to curbing the high rate of fetal and infant death in Newtown.

All told, the Community Foundation invested $8 million in the present and future quality of life in our region through grants and scholarships.

Generous individuals and organizations contributed almost $13 million to the Community Foundation in 2008-2009, including our supporting organization, the Manatee Community Foundation and the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund. These gifts attest to the enduring power of legacy or planned gifts made through bequests, estates or trusts and mean that even in lean times when the economy is in a downturn, money will always be available to address a wide range of community needs.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the Community Foundation’s past year, in which we celebrated triumphs both large and small.

1. Treated 1,200 hardworking nonprofit staffers and their families from around Sarasota County to a day of fun and laughter at Circus Sarasota.

2. Provided 1,000 EarthBoxes to school children in villages in Nicaragua through a donor advised fund, so they can grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables.

3. Started the Pajama Program in Sarasota County, dedicated to providing a steady supply of new pajamas and books, toiletries and other necessities to foster and abused children living in shelters.

4. Nonprofit Resource Center consultants donated thousands of dollars worth of expert consultation to Children First for an analysis of their buildings and facilities that will help them to operate more efficiently and more economically.

5. Brought three of the best and brightest Distinguished Speakers to town to educate estate planning attorneys and financial advisers on the newest tax laws and regulations, providing complimentary continuing education credits right here at home.

6. Invited Atlanta Superteacher Ron Clark to Sarasota to fire up every teacher in the public schools as well as many of the parents and faculty in private and parochial schools, and friends and donors who also care about good education.

7. The Nonprofit Resource Center launched an online Certificate in Nonprofit Management course for busy nonprofit staff and board members in search of affordable, quality continuing professional development.


8. Reached over half the active nonprofits in Sarasota and Manatee counties with more than 70 free or low-cost interactive trainings on leadership, governance, finance, communications and fund-raising topics.

9. Made it possible for youth to become actively engaged in local government and community issues through funding of the Students Taking Active Roles (STAR) program of Community Youth Development.

10. Shared our beautiful, state-of-the-art facility on Fruitville Road with more than 10,000 nonprofit and other organization staff who held their seminars, meetings, retreats and special events here at no cost.

11. Gave grants to both the Suncoast Communities Blood Bank and All Faiths Food Bank to buy new vehicles that make their work easier and more efficient and increase their ability to serve a greater number of people.

12. Gave Senior Friendship Centers/Friendship Volunteer Center a grant to help recruit, train and administer an expanded number of VISTA and AmeriCorps volunteers who will help nonprofit organizations stay afloat during the recession, a local economic stimulus that leverages $1.5 million worth of value.

13. Raised more than $580,000 in emergency funds to prevent families and seniors in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties from becoming homeless through the Season of Sharing campaign.

14. Gave more than $1 million in scholarships to hundreds of high school graduates and adults returning to school for higher education and job training.

15. Made the dream of literacy an attainable goal for at-risk babies, preschoolers, elementary students, middle schoolers and their families by connecting the dots among parents, child-care providers, the libraries and Sarasota County educators through our Literacy Empowers All Families (LEAF) special initiative, now in its second year.

For more about the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, call (941) 955-3000 or visit Follow the Nonprofit Resource Center on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


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