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SRQ DAILY Mar 5, 2016

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"Florida ranks 35th in FAFSA completion but is the fifth highest state in eligibility for federal Pell Grants."

- Amy Farrington, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

[Community]  Rethinking Approaches to Philanthropy, Education
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Ten years ago, Sir Ken Robinson—author, researcher, and expert on education and creativity—took the stage at a TED Conference to challenge the way we're educating our children and rethink how we cultivate creativity. It quickly became one of the most viewed and shared TED Talks in history. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” he said. 

I recently had the amazing experience of introducing Sir Ken before a crowd of 1,700 people at the Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture series, sharing how proud I am to work with so many thought-leaders in philanthropy at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

Throughout his lecture, Sir Ken reflected on the importance of upending conventional ways of thinking and launching a creative revolution to tap into people’s natural talents and passions. In so many ways, Sir Ken’s philosophy resonates with the spirit of philanthropy. For many donors, charitable giving is a way to cultivate and initiate innovative ideas which wouldn’t fit the status-quo. These ideas have the power to solve challenges and transform our community. 

Because of generous and forward-thinking people who care about the future of our community, the Community Foundation has reframed the way we support vulnerable students—moving from a child-centered approach to a family-centered approach. Breaking the cycles of intergenerational poverty is an investment in economic assistance, education, social capital and the health and well-being of both parents and their children. This “Two-Gen” approach, inspired by Ascend at the Aspen Institute, is woven into our strategic work with our nonprofit partners.  

The Great Futures Academy at Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County is one shining example of achievement. This 11-week program ensures that students from low-income families do not fall behind over the summer months, impacting their ability to read on grade level. Children receive targeted reading instruction from a certified teacher, participate in other Club programing, and attend weekly cultural experiences. A contracted social worker engages with families to tackle their challenges together and parents are encouraged to participate in adult classes.  

This creative combination is impactful. None of the participating students experienced learning “slide” and several students made learning gains. Parents participate in weekly nutrition classes, a cyber safety session, first aid/CPR training and parenting classes covering effective discipline and navigating the school system.  

It is now more vital than ever that we as a community rethink fragmented approaches to systemic issues and engage multiple partners in solutions. We are fortunate that in Sarasota County, nonprofits, donors, citizens, the School District and foundations are working together on solutions that are framed with the whole family at the heart. And they also join together to build fun learning opportunities that bring the community together. 

On March 2, Read Across America Day and the birthday of Dr. Seuss, Embracing Our Differences and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading joined forces to bring volunteer readers into Sarasota and Manatee county classrooms, stimulating conversations about diversity, bullying and respect for others and raising awareness about the importance of reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Together with The Patterson Foundation and United Way of Manatee, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County was pleased to join forces with this creative opportunity. 

If there’s one thing any resident of Sarasota County knows, it’s that we have no short supply of creativity. As you go about your lives, think about how you can become a champion for cultivating creativity to ensure we get the best out of all people, whether it’s children, colleagues or friends. 

And remember, you can be the one to make a difference. 

Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Chamber]  Financial Aid Application First Step to Success
Amy Farrington

In 2015, the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, supported by the Chamber’s Sarasota Tomorrow initiative, examined the barriers to post-secondary education and training and found that one of the most prevalent reasons that high school graduates do not move on to any kind of higher education is the lack of access to financial resources.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and what it can ultimately provide, is important in bridging that gap between perceived lack of access and various available sources of funding.

FAFSA is a financial aid form that is essential for high school seniors to fill out so that they can be considered for all possible sources of student financial aid. Nearly every student is eligible for some source of financial aid including Pell Grants, loans or work-study programs. Pell Grants, which are based on financial need, are awarded at an average of $4,000 per eligible student. An important but often overlooked aspect of available financial aid is that it is available for all post-secondary education including vocational training, not just two- and four-year universities. 

In 2012-2013, less than half of all eligible Sarasota county high school students completed the FAFSA form, leaving over $2 million in Pell Grant dollars untapped. Florida ranks 35th in FAFSA completion but is the fifth highest state in eligibility for federal Pell Grants. According to the Florida College Access Network, which is focused on supporting communities to improve college and career preparation and access, for every 10 percent that a school can increase its FAFSA completion rate, the same school’s college-going rate will increase 3 percent. This means that at a school with 500 students and a baseline completion of 15 percent, a 10-percent increase in completion would mean an additional 15 students would enroll in higher education. 

To proactively work to raise completion rates and ultimately access to post-secondary education, the Local College Access Network, a part of the larger Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, launched an outreach effort to raise awareness, increase participation and ultimately completion of the FAFSA. This collaborative effort by over 30 area organizations, including the Sarasota County School District, has resulted in events at area high schools and other community activities to assist students and families in FAFSA completion and an awareness campaign launched through local media channels. 

These efforts are paying off. Currently, Sarasota County is leading the state in the completion of the 2016 FAFSA, with 25 percent of Sarasota County high school seniors completing the form as of February 19th. The increase in completion goes beyond the reported statistics to real life impact on the students and families who will now have access to advance their education in their career field. Ultimately it also benefits our community by improving educational outcomes and workforce preparedness.

Amy Farrington is vice president of Public Policy and Sarasota Tomorrow Initiatives for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.  

For more information about FAFSA, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.

[TODAY]  HSSC's Animal Clinic Grand Opening

Don't miss the Grand Operning of the Animal Clinic of the Humane Society of Sarasota County (HSSC) today from 12-2 at 1090 North Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota. All are welcome!   Guests can expect a warm welcome at the door, meet the Vets, Techs, and staff, enjoy a behind the scenes tour and all will be entered into a special raffle.  Big MAC (HSSC's Mobile Adoption Center) will be onsite with adorable and adoptable pets.  

Humane Society of Sarasota County

[SCOOP]  Southeastern Guide Dogs "Superheroes on Parade"
Southeastern Guide Dogs recently unveiled the first nine of 50 unique, hand-painted dog sculptures to be featured in the “Superheroes on Parade” fundraising campaign from March 1 through October 9 throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite sculptures in an online contest beginning May 2, culminating in a VIP Red Carpet Awards event at the Sarasota Opera House on September 24. A “Superheroes on the Street”  social media photo campaign/contest will invite public participation via “selfie” photo submissions. Finally, all 50 sculptures will “parade” on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota on October 8 and 9. As of May 2, Superheroes on Parade will have a dedicated website at www.guidedogs.org/superheroes.

Southeastern Guide Dogs

[SCOOP]  Selah Vie Boutique Opening A Huge Success

Selah Freedom's grand opening celebration for Selah Vie Boutique, the organization's upscale resale store in Bradenton on March 1stit was a tremendous success. Over 75 people attended the Sip ‘n Shop event at Selah Vie where they had an opportunity to purchase gently used designer brands including Louis Vuitton, White House Black Market and Michael Kors, for unbelievable prices. Selah Vie Boutique serves to bring sustainability to Selah Freedom's mission to fight sex trafficking and serve as an awareness hub in the community and proceeds from the store go straight to Selah Freedom’s programs serving survivors and at-risk teen girls. The storefront location was graciously gifted to Selah Freedom by Benderson Development. Store hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm. For more info or to donate, email retail@selahfreedom.com.


Selah Freedom

[KUDOS]  Fashionista Barista Debuts Art Couture at iconcept

Sheldon McCloud, budding designer and local-favorite barista at Starbucks in downtown Sarasota, recently showcased his innovative fashion creations at Art Center Sarasota’s iconcept 2016 "Art Couture" 8th Annual Runway Event. iconcept artists created their designs with unconventional materials such as packing material, placemats and magazines. Sheldon presented an interpretive 'Little Black Dress' made from shelf liner, duct tape and spray paint and an ocean-inspired blue gown crafted from aluminum foil and spray paint. McCloud was inspired by his grandmother to pursue fashion design and encouraged by his high school teacher Cathie Janssen who has been providing sewing lessons for the budding couturier.  McCloud hopes to attend The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and noted, "I want to travel and create fashion that is inspired by landscapes, beauty, people and cultures from all corners of the world. I hope to touch the hearts of others with fashion and show them how powerful wearing art can be”. 

Ar Center Sarasota

[SCOOP]  Fathers of the Fallen Leadership Retreat Weekend

Recently several Navy SEAL Gold Star Fathers joined the Brian Bill Foundation for an incredible weekend of outdoor activities and therapeutic support. For these fathers who have lost their Navy SEAL sons, the opportunity to forge new relationships, challenge themselves, relax and de-stress are all critical components to the healing 

Brian Bill Foundation

[KUDOS]  Walter Receives 2015 Rookie of the Year Award

Janet Walter, Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., was recently awarded the 2015 Rookie of the Year Award at her Longboat Key South office. Noted in her recent accomplishments, Walter sold her first listing on Longboat Key within two days and put under contract the top penthouse at new luxury condominium project, Echelon on Palm. Walter specializes in waterfront luxury real estate and downtown developments. Contact her at  941-232-2000.  

Michael Saunders & Company

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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