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SRQ DAILY Apr 7, 2018

"Now more than ever, each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference in our own way."

- Roxie Jerde, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[Education]  Immersive Learning Lands in Venice
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

When students from Venice Elementary School and adjacent Venice High School returned from spring break this past Monday, they discovered a rock-like object, resembling a meteor, had skidded across the lawn and made landfall on their campus. As part of a coordinated simulation, University of South Florida professors and graduate students dressed as NASA scientists in contamination suits, quarantined the meteor with caution tape and began processing the site utilizing apparent sterilizing techniques, outward observation procedures, and collecting scientific data.

Throughout the week students investigated the site to help analyze samples and propose solutions. It was a wonderful sight to see elementary-aged students fully engaged with clipboards in hand while asking the scientists such inquisitive questions. One young student suggested the security cameras be reviewed for video evidence while another felt his sighting of a shooting star the night before could be related.

As recipients of a schoolwide immersion grant from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County with funding provided by the Dart Foundation and created in coordination with USF professors, students from both schools experienced a science-based inquiry project allowing for unique cross-curricula and interdisciplinary opportunities. The Education Foundation also provided professional development on inquiry-based instruction to select staff at both schools to encourage innovative pedagogical practices in K–12 learning environments. These active learning experiences focus on guiding students’ curiosity toward testable questions, quantifiable inquiries, plausible hypotheses, observations and inferences, helping the students develop accurate scientific habits of mind.

The collaboration between the two schools has provided a unique opportunity for students of all ages. Beth Donofrio, Venice High School’s teacher of the year, took a creative approach to incorporating the meteor landing into her classroom instruction on Shakespeare. Donofrio’s class investigated the meteor landing as if they were in Shakespearean times—using only the knowledge and scientific tools available in the 16th century. She asked students to critically consider how Shakespeare and the Globe actors would have viewed this event—would they believe the cause was scientific, fate or God? She probed students to consider allusions to the stars and the heavens in Shakespeare’s work, which has resulted in a number of lively classroom discussions.

The meteor landing was the second immersive grant piloted by the Education Foundation this year with the first held at Booker Middle School with funding provided by United Way Suncoast. Through a simulated city that experienced an outbreak and using more than 30 career professionals who joined students and teachers to share their career paths, middle school students were exposed to real-life scenarios and various jobs using a socio-cultural approach while also learning how to respond to a harmless city contagion.

It is projects like these that the Education Foundation will continue to expand upon because students are at the center of learning. Immersive grants are inquiry-based learning projects that call on students to actively make observations; collect, analyze and synthesize information, and draw conclusions—all of which develops useful problem-solving skills. Inquiry-based learning promotes student engagement, develops meaningful research skills, heightens curiosity and fortifies the importance of asking good questions. Beyond developing these vital skills, it also fosters a lifelong love of learning.

We look forward to expanding upon these projects and want to give a special shout-out to USF professors Dr. Dana Zeidler and Dr. Mitch Ruzek for piloting these learning opportunities with us.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[Community]  Everyone Can Be a Philanthropist
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Among the wealth of white sandy beaches, world-class cultural treasures, warm weather and fine dining experiences, our region has something else that is quite extraordinary: an abundance of generosity. Anyone who has spent an extended period of time here knows this. It’s evident in the number of prominent names that are displayed on schools, libraries, churches and nonprofit buildings, or the amount of fundraising events you see around town each week.

Many people think philanthropy is something that is exclusive to the wealthy elite, citing articles about Bill Gates or Warren Buffet making gifts of millions of dollars to lofty causes; however the reality is quite different. Now more than ever, each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference in our own way.

In 2012, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County created the Giving Challenge, an online giving day event to support the hundreds of local nonprofits that serve our region. The goal was to raise awareness about the importance of informed giving and transparency, as well as promoting the incredible organizations that are doing good things right in our own backyard. The only prerequisite for a nonprofit to participate was having an up-to-date profile in The Giving Partner, a free, local source for in-depth information on local nonprofits’ programs and impact, leadership, needs and financial history available to everyone in the community.

While we achieved our goal, what we also found was the Giving Challenge was the perfect tool to tap into our community’s giving spirit, with donors pooling their resources and making gifts at all levels. In the first year of the Giving Challenge, $2.4 million was raised from more than 10,700 donors to benefit 109 local nonprofits. There was so much excitement around the Challenge, the $334,000 match that The Patterson Foundation generously provided (back then there was a limit) was met in just four minutes. It was clear this was an opportunity our community could get behind and one that everyone owned.

Since then, the Giving Challenge has grown to match the generosity of our region. The last Giving Challenge held in 2016 raised an astonishing $13.4 million from more than 45,000 individual donors in just 24 hours—one of the largest giving days of its kind in the Southeastern United States. The beauty of this achievement is that the average gift was only $90. Additionally, half of the more than 63,000 gifts were under $50, again validating the philosophy that all of our citizens have the means and ability to make a difference. 

While the numbers are impressive, the real story behind the Giving Challenge is what organizations are able to do with the support they receive and how the impact is realized locally, thanks to the support of the community that loves them. Giving Challenge funds are flexible and provide an influx of cash flow as the pace slows for the summer. Funding has allowed nonprofits to fill gaps, fund passion projects and experiment on innovative programs. They’ve helped fix leaking roofs, provide hope for homeless youth, purchase adoption vans for animal shelters, and protect wildlife on land and in water. The stories of impact are endless.

This May, we are excited to provide the opportunity for our community to once again step up and flex its philanthropic muscle. At noon on May 1, the 2018 Giving Challenge will go live at www.GivingPartnerChallenge.org for 24 hours, and I encourage you take a moment or two out of that time to support your favorite local nonprofits. To strengthen giving and make your gift go further during the 2018 Giving Challenge and further the impact of your gift, The Patterson Foundation will provide a 1-to-1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor for each organization you support. Join me in proving once more that our community gives as good as it gets.

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

[KUDOS]  Music Compound Rock Band Heads to Crossover Festival

Music Compound Rock Band's seven students have been working hard, practicing every week, and playing at events nearly every weekend. On April 14th they are going to travel to St. Petersburg for the Crossover Festival a one-day festival that celebrates students as makers of music featuring artists in grades K-12. Music Compound Rock Band will be performing an original song, "Stand Up"written by Zak Moon, guitarist for the band.  

Music Compound

[SCOOP ]  Chillounge Under the Stars

Join the Sarasota Film Festival on Saturday April 21 and "Chill Under the Stars" as Chillounge Night makes its triumphant return to Sarasota and transforms Five Points Park into a magnificent outdoor lounge with all the chic and stylish vibes that it has become known for throughout Florida. The event starts at 6pm and will showcase live band performances, a sophisticated and fun fashion daybed parade, the signature and colorful Brazilian Samba Parade and much more. With hundreds of cool outdoor furnishings and fine food/drinks to complement the entertainment, this will be an intimate and magical evening for thousands to enjoy. Admission is $30 per person in advance and $40 at the door (must be 21 or older). Chillounge Night, founded in Sarasota 10 years ago, continues to bring a unique brand of "dazzle" with the ultimate outdoor lounge party. 

Sarasota Film Festival

[SCOOP ]  Summer Internship Opportunity with Sun Hydraulics

CareerEdge is offering a paid summer internship for high school graduates in partnership with Sun Hydraulics. No experience is necessary to apply for the program and once the candidates are chosen they will earn $10 an hour in a full-time internship for 3 months.  Sun Hydraulics is a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves, located near the Sarasota-Bradenton airport. The interns will learn in-demand, high-tech manufacturing skills beginning in June 2018, with the opportunity for permanent job placement.  Shifts available 7am-3pm or 3pm-11pm. If hired after the internship, Sun Hydraulics offers a generous TUITION REIMBURSEMENT program for college certifications and degrees, as well as other benefits.  


[SCOOP]  Goodwill Manasota Spring Cleaning Tips

It’s an annual rite of spring: as warmer weather arrives, most Americans will take time to declutter and spruce up their homes. With the sale of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. Goodwill Manasota has these suggestions for spring. CLEAN AND ORGANIZE: Clear out your garage, closets and attic space. Find storage bins, baskets and shelves at Goodwill Manasota to help you get organized. DONATE: Make it your business to give someone else a fresh start. Whether you’re at a new job or wearing a new size, share your success by donating unwanted professional outfits to Goodwill. SHOP: Find trend-setting prints and patterns at your local Goodwill store to create a new look this spring. 

Goodwill Manasota

[SCOOP]  Free "Forget Me Not" Seminar on Brain Health and Dementia

Pines of Sarasota Rehabilitation and Senior Care Community will be hosting a free seminar on Thursday, April 12 from 1:30-4pm for family members and caregivers to learn more about Dementia and Brain Health from local experts. Dr. Kinga Porter will address Preventing and Treating Neurologic Decline and  Dr. Charles Bens will present "Your Personalized Brain Health Guide: Science-Based Nutrition with Proven Results." 

Pines of Sarasota Rehabilitation and Senior Care Community

[Kudos]  Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium Earns Prestigious AZA Accreditation

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) recently announced that Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.“AZA accreditation signifies that Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is committed to meeting the very highest standards in the zoological profession,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “It means that Mote is a proven leader in animal care and welfare and in providing educational and meaningful experiences for visitors.”


Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium


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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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