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SRQ Daily Aug 20, 2016

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"It is one of things I have always loved about Sarasota - our citizens are engaged and want to dig deeper, learn more and have continued conversations about how we can be better."

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation
 

[Gulf Coast]  Feeling Good About Self-Sufficiency
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

“I signed up for health insurance for the first time!”

“I put down a deposit on a place to live!”

“I lost 15 pounds!”

Those were just a few accomplishments that participants shared a mere four weeks into a family financial sustainability initiative that kicked off in May. And while I can’t vouch for “losing weight,” the other achievements signify hope for some of our community’s most vulnerable families.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation partnered with United Way Suncoast to develop and quietly launch this ambitious effort. It takes a very different approach from traditional financial literacy programs. Financial sustainability, we learned, doesn’t begin with how people think about the choices involving money; it begins with how they think about money itself. Rather than just teaching things like how to balance a checkbook or create a budget, the program helps families understand basic concepts that many of us take for granted. Things like predatory loans with high interest rates are a bad alternative to pay for car repairs, or that saving for college begins when children are young rather than when they are in high school.

It also extends and complements our multiyear Homeless Children and Families initiative. Recognizing challenges faced by those who’ve been homeless or close to it, the initiative aims to help families attain the knowledge, support and assets they need to progress toward financial self-sufficiency.

We took the best of what has worked elsewhere and, with a focus on behavioral economics, built a new curriculum for our region. The approach incentivizes participation, creates accountable relationships and provides families with financial products—actual accounts and assets—to which they never had access before.

In practice, clients have attended 10 financial-education workshops so far. The 20 participating families were identified by The Salvation Army of Sarasota, where they receive case management and other assistance. The agency also offered its community center to host the workshops. Before each hour-long session, families were supplied with a meal they could enjoy together, and then Children First provided on-site childcare so parents could fully participate.

Between the workshops, clients met one-on-one with their volunteer financial coaches—and that’s where the real work happened. They created budgets, set goals and otherwise navigated their complicated financial situations. Participation incentives that were teased at the workshops but not delivered until the series conclusion further motivated clients to keep those meetings. But not as much as the support, encouragement and growing trust of their amazing coaches.

Early next month, our families and coaches will celebrate completion of the workshop series. But it’s really a transition as much as a graduation. The client-coach pairings now move into the next phase, continuing to work together for many months as the families negotiate the long, bumpy road to self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, we’ll welcome our next class of families into the program and make improvements to it as we go.

Early signs of success are only possible thanks to the community partners mentioned above and several others, like IBERIABANK, which opened matched savings accounts for each participant, and Sarasota County, which helped fund the workshops. We’ll need even more partners as we scale up to serve more families.

Our volunteers, meanwhile, are nearly as inspiring as their clients. Participants have described their coaches as “awesome,” “a great ‘cheerleader,” and “a good man.” One formerly homeless single mom now sees her coach and the United Way staff as her team of advisors—she calls them her “people.” Who knows, maybe some of these energized folks really will lose 15 pounds on top of everything else they accomplish.

Mark Pritchett is president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. To learn more about Gulf Coast Community Foundation and United Way Suncoast’s Financial Sustainability Initiative, go to www.gulfcoastcf.org. 

[Argus]  Let Your Voice Be Heard
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

This is the craziest part of the election cycle, with signs and campaign propaganda everywhere you look, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the clutter, collateral and various communications. Before it got to this point, we have had meaningful conversations that took place at two very popular Meet the Minds candidate forums this year, held by The Argus Foundation. A packed house of 165 people attended the sold-out Florida Senate candidate forum. At the luncheon, six hopeful candidates displayed their differences in approaches, preparation and views.

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 answered questions on a variety of issues, including taxes, Enterprise Florida, transportation, education and incentives.

Over 100 attended our second candidate forum with State House District 72 candidates John Hill, Edward James III, and Alex Miller. They too answered similar questions on important issues to our community.

These successful and intimate events allowed for great discourse between the candidates and truly illustrated the desire of our community to have these deeper conversations with well thought-out policy positions. It is one of things I have always loved about Sarasota—our citizens are engaged and want to dig deeper, learn more and have continued conversations about how we can be better. Community leaders were able to meet and hear from their potential representatives with open conversations in a calm and neutral setting.

It’s these meaningful conversations that should be at the forefront, now more than ever. That’s the goal of the Argus Foundation’s Meet the Minds events. Meant to educate and stimulate, these luncheons feature informative guest speakers who discuss the important issues impacting the community, state and world, and allow the community one on one time with our elected officials and/or candidates to understand opposing viewpoints.

The Primary election is August 30, and the general election is November 8. While you might not agree with every candidate, let’s all remember that it’s an honorable cause to serve your community. We have a lot of diverse candidates to pick from this year. These individuals want to serve our community, and I am certainly thankful for their willingness to serve and applaud them for that service.   

Now is the time to finish your research, and at the end of this month and in November, exercise your most important right as a citizen and put your research into action by voting. It is one of our most precious rights. Let your voice be heard.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  One Year of Boldly Engaging
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

One year ago, the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, launched its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan to “Boldly Engage” its two-county region and confirm the college’s role as a central feature in the community it supports. While some strategic plans are announced with great fanfare and then left on the shelf to gather dust, at SCF we’re pushing hard to achieve the bold goals we established for our college and our community. After one year, we’ve made strong progress on each of our strategic priorities and set goals for 2017 that will keep us pushing forward.

I would characterize our first year as getting the right people in place to make our strategic plan come to life. The college completed an organizational structure review and added a number of very talented individuals in key staff positions. I’m confident that we have the right people in the right positions to meet the goals of our five-year plan.

As the name of our plan implies – Boldly Engaging – we set four bold priorities to be met during the plan’s five-year duration. For our first year, we set and met goals to build toward those priorities. I’d like to share some of those achievements with you here.

Strategic Priority #1: Ensure that SCF programs are available to students in all geographic locations of our service region.

We made rapid progress on our goal to create flagship programs on our Venice Campus. Gator Engineering at SCF, the Honors Program and the Accelerated Dual Enrollment Program give the Venice Campus unique, signature programs to spur growth and meet the needs of south Sarasota County. The Gator Engineering program is envisioned with two tracks: one of students accepted to the University of Florida who chose to attend SCF for their first two years, and the other of traditional SCF students who mirror the coursework of the UF-accepted students and then apply to UF or another state university to continue on to a four-year degree in engineering.

Strategic Priority #2: Develop a concierge-style student experience focused on enhancing student recruitment and performance outcomes.

The Quality Enhancement Plan, piloted in 2015 on the Bradenton Campus, is being rebranded and expanded to all campuses for fall 2016. The program pairs select first-time-in-college students with academic coaches. Now known as GPS: Guided Plan for Success, the program will feature coaches from the college’s faculty and staff this fall.

Strategic Priority #3: Aggressively engage faculty/program managers/business and community leaders in collaborative curriculum development from start to implementation for programs that are rapidly responsive to workforce needs.

SCF launched multiple new workforce programs in concert with local advisory groups made up of industry professionals to address the region’s workforce needs both now and in the future. The new A.S. programs include Health Services Management, Network Systems Technology (Cyber Security), Mobile Application Technology. New certificate programs include Live Media Event Production and Web Development Specialist.

Strategic Priority #4: Establish SCF's central role in the educational, cultural and workforce development of our service region.

SCF’s Communications and Marketing Department’s contact with the media through news releases, personal contact and by providing subject matter experts has boosted the college’s profile on television, in the newspapers and online media. Our outstanding faculty members now routinely serve as subject matter experts in media coverage of local events.

To enhance the region’s only open-access fine and performing arts program, our Foundation created the SCF Music Excellence Sponsorship Program to assist students in the college’s music programs.

We have already set equally ambitious goals for the 2016-2017 year that will continue to address our priorities and provide even better services and education to our students. If you would like to see more of our strategic plan, please go to http://www.scf.edu/Administration/President/strategic-plan/ and feel free to contact me if you are interested in boldly engaging our future.

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

[From Debbie Beck]  Zucker Committed to Our Schools

I’m writing to ask you to support Caroline Zucker in the August 30 election for school board.

I have been a proud member of the Gulf Gate Elementary School teaching staff for several years and have worked for the passage of all four of our 1-mill school referendum votes. I have seen Mrs. Zucker at Gulf Gate on numerous occasions including our new building ribbon cutting and even at numerous fund raisers for students. I was not surprised to see her on those occasions. That, I believe, is part of the job of being a good school board member. Why I am so supportive of Mrs. Zucker is because of something I witnessed during referendum vote number 3. Mrs. Zucker was not a school board member at the time. I went with a group of teachers to Main Street, Sarasota to walk around and pass out information at a weekend art fair. There, in front of me, was Mrs. Zucker in a green referendum shirt walking down Main Street, passing out referendum information and talking to citizens. I couldn’t believe it. She wasn’t even a school board member anymore and still cared enough to give up one of her Saturdays to work for our students. She knew that if the referendum did not pass it would be devastating to our schools.

Last week I learned that Mrs. Zucker’s opponent did not even care enough to show up to vote for the last referendum. There is no choice in this race. I pick the person that cares about kids and cares about our schools. I pick Caroline Zucker for school board.

Debbie Beck is a teacher at Gulf Gate Elementary School. 



[SCOOP ]  Garden Party

Every Child, Inc. as opened a "Garden Party" booth located in Goodbye's Consignment Store in Sarasota. The delightful nook features unique glass flowers, vintage linens and aprons, one of a kind cake plates and vintage buttons. Stock up on treasures while you support the children of Sarasota.  

Every Child Inc.

[SCOOP ]  Kickoff Chili Cook-Off

Join Gecko's at the Landings on September 11 for a Kickoff Chili Cook-Off benefiting the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Charitable Foundation. Judges & chili lovers alike can celebrate the beginning of football season, with prizes awarded to spiciest, most original and best over all, and a special award to the chef who raises the most donations for SCSOCF. We will never forget this day in the USA, so come show your support for our first responders and have a little fun, Gecko's style. Chefs can register at Gecko's at the Landings.  

Gecko's Grill & Pub

[KUDOS ]  E(3) Impact

Circuelle Foundation is very excited to launch their E(3) Impact Education Programs this year that teach educational, health nutritional and fitness lifestyle changes that reduce lifetime risk of breast cancer. Circuelle has educated over 500 young adults in Sarasota County on the importance of breast health and awareness, of whom 93% committed to making a lifestyle change beginning that day. If you are interested in becoming an E(3) Influencer, or if you would like to nominate a group of teens to receive their program contact info@circuellefoundation.org or call 855-523-7475 today and help empower young adults to become self-advocates for their breast health and awareness.  

Circuelle Foundation

[SCOOP ]  USFSM Student Commons Center

USF Sarasota-Manatee has broken ground on a $1.6 million Student Commons area where students can study, exercise or simply relax and socialize as part of an effort to create a richer campus life. When complete, the area will feature a lounge with more amenities and furniture, a gaming area new television monitors coffee bar study carrels pool foosball and ping-pong tables. “This really is student-driven,” said Rick Lyttle, director of Facilities Planning & Management at USFSM. “Students were involved in every aspect of the design.”  

USF Sarasota Manatee

[SCOOP]  Venice Theatre Auditions

Auditions for the brand-new comic drama, Get Out of Dodge, the opening production of Venice Theatre's 2016-2017 Stage II season will be held August 28 and August 29 at 7:30 pm. Written by Jeanne Drennan, this original script about a woman in her forties whose comfortable suburban life is upended when a long-kept family secret involving her father's brush with the law comes to light was was selected as the winning play from over 300 entries in the American Association of Community Theatre's 2015 New PlayFest contest.  

Venice Theatre

[KUDOS ]  Education Foundation Hires Camille Cline

Camille Cline has joined the Education Foundation of Sarasota County as vice president of strategic philanthropy. Previously Cline served as senior associate director of alumni and parent engagement at the University of Virginia. “It’s a dream to blend my background working with students, parents teachers community and business partners and leaders to grow our area’s commitment to education and promote lifelong learning opportunities,” Cline said.  

Education Foundation

[SCOOP]  Art of the Costume

The incredible costumes of Circus Arts Conservatory co-founder Dolly Jacob will be featured as part of a new exhibition titled "Art of the Costume: Working Women in Uniform" at the State College of Florida's Fine Art Gallery. The exhibit will highlight broad historical, cultural artistic and social issues related to work customs and fashions. The display opens with a reception on Friday, August 26 and runs through Wednesday, October 26. 

Circus Arts Conservatory

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: 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. 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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