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SRQ DAILY Apr 16, 2016

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"Gulf Coast has high expectations of our community's nonprofits because we have such high aspirations for our nonprofit community."

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Argus]  Fostering Thoughtful Discourse
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

I’ve heard many people describe today’s national political climate as a three-ring circus. With insults flying back and forth, demeaning news columns based upon dreamed-up facts, and new material occurring daily that fosters fodder for the blogs, I for one am looking forward to our thoughtful candidate forums and discussions here at home to decide on our local races. 

The Argus Foundation is hosting two events to bring thoughtful discourse to light this month, one of which sold out faster than ever before. These events are a great opportunity for meaningful conversations to take the place of the political theater taking center stage on a national level.

First up is our sold-out Florida Senate panel and debate next week featuring all six confirmed political candidates. We will have 150 members and guests hear from all of the current candidates for this race, including: Frank Cirillo, former State Representative Doug Holder, Rick Levine, former County Commissioner Nora Patterson, current state Representative Ray Pilon and current state Representative Greg Steube.

The candidates will answer questions previously submitted to each on a variety of issues from education, taxes, Enterprise Florida and incentives. There will also be a short audience question-and-answer period. This was a format first used by The Argus Foundation at the Sarasota City Commission candidate panel last year. We found that by submitting questions to the candidates in advance, our audience was able to glean more thoughtful responses to important issues. Our members found great insight in hearing responses that were researched, resulting in more detailed responses.

At our last panel, the audience and the candidates enjoyed it and everyone thought the process was fair. We tackled tough issues and it is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of how a candidate will research an issue, prepare an argument and govern in a thoughtful way. After all, this is how we would hope they would govern if elected.

The second event is much more casual: our popular all-you-can-eat Low Country Boil. This community favorite allows Argus Foundation members and guests to mingle and speak with elected officials and candidates in a laid back atmosphere with great food. The Low Country Boil has always been one that I look forward to and it continues to grow each year. With two weeks left until the event, we have already surpassed ticket sales from last year, possibly because this year we are fortunate to have Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston on our cooking team. The casual event, set on the Bayfront has no formal program. Instead, it showcases great food and good conversations, giving people the ability to connect in a meaningful and casual way. After last year’s event, Sarasota Mayor Willie Shaw commented at a commission meeting that he “found it to be very, very rewarding in building relationships with people throughout the county."

So while Sarasota will always be known as a circus town, it’s good to see the strong interest in meaningful local conversations, leaving the theatrics on the national stage.

Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  SCF Library and Learning Center
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Nothing creates excitement on a college campus like new construction, or in the case of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, the anticipation of new construction. After 10 years of planning, the state legislature this year allocated the final $8.9 million needed to build a new Library and Learning Center on our Bradenton Campus.

We are planning to break ground in the fall on this $17.6-million project and hope to have our new Library and Learning Center fully functional sometime in late 2017 or early 2018. Since receiving the first half of the needed funding in 2014, we have been busy creating and designing a modern library that meets the needs of today’s students and those in the future. I believe we have an incredible—and affordable—design for this facility that combines a technology-focused learning center with the offerings of a traditional library.

Many will ask, why build a library? Isn’t everything on the internet now? Shouldn’t our resources be spent preparing students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math? Those are great questions, one’s we asked ourselves many times through this process. The answers are simple—to be successful in any career in today’s high-tech environment, our students must learn in that environment. Our new Library and Learning Center will provide students with collaborative, technologically-driven learning spaces and will be built with future demands in mind. This one facility will contribute to our students’ success in every career choice they make.

Imagine being a health sciences student learning about the human body. Now imagine sitting in a 270-degree visualization theater. As you are learning about how the human body works you are virtually sitting inside the human body observing what is happening around you. Students will be able to use a digital fabrication “Fab Lab” with computer-controlled tools and 3D printers, media production studios, digital editing rooms and a creativity studio with movable and writable walls. The LLC will feature multi-functional space and provide meeting or event space for the community.

Studies show that students who use libraries are more likely to stay in college, get better grades and graduate on time. By providing our students a state-of-the-art facility, we will attract more students to our Library and Learning Center, provide them with the resources they need to be successful and set them on a path toward employment and success.

This new facility will still feature traditional library collections, but is focused on books and research materials not available online. Students will leverage technology to fast-track them to the online materials they need to complete research and assignments. The collections area will be flexible, so as more materials become available digitally, the space can be transitioned to meet future needs.

This is an exciting time as we prepare to break ground on this new facility. While the money from the state will allow us to build the “bricks and mortar” for the Library and Learning Center, our foundation is raising funds through its capital campaign to provide the technology that will make this facility so dynamic. I invite you to become part of our vision by contacting the foundation at 941-408-1418 or www.scffoundation.net.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[Gulf Coast]  Investing in Incredible Nonprofit Partners
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

We got some nice feedback from a friend who took part in a Gulf Coast training last week; Linda Craig runs Manasota Operation Troop Support, a grassroots group that provides care packages and more for deployed military troops with ties to our region. She joined 24 other nonprofit staffers to learn more about GulfCoastGood.org, our web portal for funding small charity projects and recruiting volunteers.

Linda uses Gulf Coast Gives—the fundraising side of the site—about as well as anyone. MOTS has seen 44 of its projects funded to date. Heck, I’ve probably donated to half of them, they’re that compelling! So we already knew she appreciated the online tool.

But her note told a deeper story. Besides jotting down some fresh fundraising ideas inspired by conversations in the room, she formed new bonds with folks who do very different but equally important work. “I connected with two ladies,” she wrote, “who are interested in having their retired military spouses come to a packing party and see if they’d like to volunteer for MOTS!” Linda thrived on the camaraderie and energy of the greater group. “I work alone most of the time,” she shared, “and I feed off of new ‘brain candy,’ as I call it.”

Well, we feed off of the dedication and impact of partners like those 25 people at our training. For years, we’ve said that so much of what we do at Gulf Coast is possible only through our nonprofit partners. They’re the ones providing important services or artistic excellence. Our role is to build a solid foundation of funding, strategy and leverage for that good work.

We just heard from another friend about progress in helping local teens who have no homes or family support yet still manage to make it to school each day. Some of these “unaccompanied youths” have lived under bridges, or worse, but thanks to their own resilience and a caring network of community services, many are moving toward high school graduation and even college beyond.

Our friend Linda said that whenever she meets with a colleague who works directly with those homeless teens, “it warms my little heart. She whips out her cell phone, and there are 80 kids who she checks on and texts with on a regular basis.” It’s that tenacious support—being there for those kids like no one has before—that’s helping them transform their young lives.

Gulf Coast has high expectations of our community’s nonprofits because we have such high aspirations for our nonprofit community. There are incredible agencies to invest in here. If you agree and have the means, we have the ways. Visit GulfCoastGood.org to see how you can give (time or money) to a cause that moves you. Talk to our staff if you’re interested in making an even bigger difference in the work of local nonprofits, or go straight to the source (of good) and visit an agency that has helped you or is helping to create the kind of world you want to live in. Those are community investments worth making.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[TOMORROW]  PMP Alumni in Concert: Ariel Quartet

For the first time in Venice, the Perlman Music Program Suncoast (PMP/Suncoast) will present a performance on April 17 featuring The Ariel Quartet, esteemed alumni of The Perlman Music Program. Repertoire to be performed includes Franz Schubert’s Quartettsatz, Bela Bartok’s Quartet No. 1, and Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2. Performers include: Alexandra Kazovsky and Gershon Gerchikov, violins; Jan Grüning, viola; and Amit Even-Tov, cello. This is the final of a series of three concerts showcasing the next generation of world-class musicians in area concert halls. These are some of the most exciting young artists on the classical music scene.   

Perlman Music Program Suncoast

[SOON]  13-Year-Old Philanthropist Organizes Mini-Golf Tournament for Sea Turtles
Tee up for sea turtles during a special mini-golf tournament to benefit Mote's Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program and Easter Seals Southwest Florida. 13-year-old philanthropist Lexi Mariash and her company Turtle Inc. are hosting their 2nd Annual Miniature Golf Tournament with a goal of raising $25,000 for the two local non-profits. The event presented by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Positive Tracks will take place at Evie’s on the Green in Sarasota) on May 14. Tee times are 10am and noon.Cost is $25 per person or $100 per team of four. Entry includes golf, food, drinks and a goody bag. 

Turtle Inc.

[SCOOP]  Local Businesses Support Autism Awareness Month

A local Autism Awareness Campaign created by the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) is starting to pop up all around the community and is garnering support from local businesses as well as Sarasota Mayor Willie Charles Shaw.  The goal of SMART’s Autism Awareness Campaign and event is to help inspire the community to bring awareness about the needs of those with autism.  A pallet was recently painted by Tyler Lefebvre of Ringling College of Art & Design showcasing the SMART autism puzzle piece.  This artwork was displayed all over town this week including SRQ Media offices and City Hall and will be showcased the day of the event.



[SCOOP]  Free Swim Lessons for Children at the Sarasota YMCA

The Sarasota YMCA partnered with the YMCA of the USA to provide swim lessons to 100 children for free at the Evalyn Sadlier Jones and Frank G. Berlin Sr., branches. The grant provides children the opportunity to learn life-saving swimming skills. The Y is “America’s Swim Instructor” and the most accessible community resource to prevent drowning. Research shows that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children one to four years of age.  Last year, the Sarasota YMCA taught over 1,900 children swimming skills. For information on how to participate in the free lessons, please contact the Evalyn Sadlier Jones branch at 941-922-9622 or the Frank G. Berlin Sr., branch at 941-955-8194. 

Sarasota YMCA

[KUDOS]  FSU, SMH Internal Medicine Residency Program Receives Initial Accreditation Approval
The Florida State University College of Medicine and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System received the good news today that their Internal Medicine Residency Program was approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The initial accreditation clears the way for SMH and FSU to begin reaching out to graduating medical students interested in enrolling in the program in the summer of 2017. The Sarasota program is the first residency program approved by ACGME between St. Petersburg and Fort Myers along Florida’s west coast. When it reaches full capacity in year three, the Sarasota program will enroll 39 residents and by 2020 begin producing 13 new internal medicine physicians each year. 

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

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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