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SRQ DAILY Jun 26, 2019

Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

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Wednesday Philanthropy Edition

"With the new aquarium coming, we're looking at new ways to incorporate VR, augmented reality and interactive experiences."

- Stephannie Kettle, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

[Science and Nature]  Mote Marine Tests the Virtual Waters with Immotion Collaboration
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

Visitors can now swim with humpback whales and dive into the ruins of a sunken shipwreck at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and all without the bulky oxygen tanks, scuba lessons or even getting their feet wet, thanks to a new collaboration with the virtual reality artists at the UK-based company Immotion. Installing four of Immotion’s virtual reality “pods” in Mote’s Exploration Gallery, guests can now strap in and choose from any of nine virtual reality cinematic experiences, ranging from the ocean-centric and educational to pulse-pounding science fiction adventures.

A full-body sensation, users not only don a virtual reality headset, but enter an open-air pod that looks like a prop from a Men in Black movie and delivers responsive wraparound sound and multi-directional movement, creating as immersive an experience as possible. Each experience runs around five minutes long, but what that experience is will vary; two interested Mote in particular.

Swimming with Humpbacks brings the user from the pod in Mote’s Exploration Gallery to a pod of humpback whales diving and playing in the middle of the ocean, soaring through the water around the viewer. Made completely with live footage captured by the Immotion team and its 360-degree camera equipment, the program stands out as being one of the most educational and realistic available, says Mote’s Stephannie Kettle, and fits perfectly into Mote’s mission to both entertain and inform its visitors. Another VR experience, Legend of Lusca, again takes users into the deep, but this time to a shipwreck reclaimed by the inhabitants of the ocean floor. Explore a real coral reef and swim with sea-life from more actual footage captured by Immotion’s underwater team, but be on the lookout for a little (read: giant) something extra added by Immotion’s digital artists as well, as the Legend of Lusca makes its presence known.

Other experiences range from creepy mini-mysteries like Jinxed to spacefaring thrill rides like Delta Zero, while the kid-focused Dragon Island lets users fly around a fantasy world atop a cartoon dragon. While these more outlandish options are all computer-generated, and lack the aquatic focus of the previously mentioned experiences, they will still be available for Mote visitors to explore.

“With the new aquarium coming, we’re looking at new ways to incorporate VR, augmented reality and interactive experiences,” says Kettle, and these new pods from Immotion can be viewed as something of a pilot program to see what works and what does not. Different audiences look for different means of engagement with the information, Kettle says, and the traditional exhibition may not be the best way to reach the more tech-centric visitors.

Currently installed in the Exploration Gallery at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, each VR experience costs $6 and lasts about five minutes.  And while Mote now offers nine to choose from, Kettle says more will be coming. “We’ve even had beginning talks with Immotion about them filming something with us,” she says, “and related to our research.” 

Pictured: A user in the Immotion VR pod experiencing 'Swimming with Humpbacks.'

[Education]  Fostering a Foundation to Learn, Grow, Dream
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

There are over 150 infants and toddlers on Children First program’s waitlist for early childhood education services. With that number of children’s learning opportunities being put on hold, and a great chance of them falling even further behind their peers, Children First enlisted the help of longtime partner Sarasota Housing Authority to take this community issue head on.

Sarasota Housing Authority CEO William Russell and Children First CEO Philip Tavill created a concept to allow some of those young learners on the waitlist to be placed into a high-quality early care environment. In January 2019, the project broke ground on the renovation of a previously-abandoned modular building. A number of dedicated local philanthropists pitched in their time and labor to bring the opportunity a reality, while PGT Innovations donated brand new windows for the building, and Shue-Kauffman Building & Roofing helped make the construction possible. Today, the lot is transformed into two education classrooms that will serve 16 infants and toddlers currently living in the Housing Authority, as well as provide critical services to help families achieve self-sufficiency and financial success.                           

“We are prioritizing early childhood development and literacy for our youngest residents so that they will be on a level playing field with their peers entering Kindergarten and be able to read on grade level by third-grade,” says Russell. “This will give our kids the best opportunity to succeed in school and life and break the generational cycle of poverty.”

This modular will be the 14th location across Sarasota County where Children First will be offering services to the community’s at-risk youth. Further expansion opportunities for early education classrooms are in the works, with another capital project moving forward in the redeveloped Janie’s Garden. The two organizations plan to continue to foster more foundations for young learners to “receive the same chance to learn, grow and dream”. 

“Every child is born with potential. Not every child is provided an opportunity,” says Tavill. “The opportunity that we have, as an agency, is to create our future through the hearts and minds of the children that we serve each year. We have shown proven success on a local and national scale, and we are deeply grateful for our supporters who recognize that, as long as we work together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish for children and families.” 

Photo of local philanthropists Joan Levenson and Linda Monda, courtesy of Children First.

[Philanthropy]  USFSM Announces Visible Men Academy Scholarship

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee has announced the creation of a scholarship to assist graduates of Visible Men Academy (VMA), a free public charter school that serves predominantly at-risk elementary-aged students in Bradenton and Sarasota. Endowed by David Kotok and Christine Schlesinger, supporters of VMA, the Visible Men Academy Scholarship will provide VMA graduates with financial assistance for tuition, books and other supplies throughout their education at USFSM.

Before receiving the Visible Men Academy Scholarship, VMA graduates must meet USFSM admissions requirements, including those related to SAT/ACT scores and Grade Point Average. Once admitted, students may contact USFSM financial aid counselors to apply for the VMA scholarship or other USF Foundation scholarships. The scholarship will be available to VMA graduates enrolled in any of USFSM’s four colleges: the College of Business, the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership and the College of Science & Mathematics. 

University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee

[Philanthropy]  Manatee County Clerk Hosts Clothing Drive for County Children

The Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller recently participated in a collection drive to benefit the Manatee Children’s Services and Manatee County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. More than 1,000 items, including apparel, hats, footwear, pajamas, hoodies, jackets, umbrellas, hair tools and undergarments, were collected during the drive.

Staff members from the Manatee County Clerk of the Court participated in the month-long drive during April. Amazon joined in and also made a significant clothing contribution with a box that contained more than 100 items.

At Manatee Children’s Services, a team of more than 50 professionals assist abused and neglected children in Manatee County and the surrounding areas. The Manatee County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association provides a positive and supportive community where foster and adoptive families can connect and grow. 

Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court

[Philanthropy]  Community Foundation Awards $1.95 in Scholarships for Local Students

535 student leaders in Sarasota, Bradenton, DeSoto and Charlotte counties were recently awarded $1.95 million in scholarships from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The recipients were chosen from more than 700 student applications, and selected based on merit, need or a combination of both. The scholarships are designed to satisfy and fulfill a diverse array of academic goals. For the 2019 award cycle, students received an average amount of $3,360.

A significant number of students plan on attending in-state institutions, with more than 75% selecting the University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida State University, State College of Florida, University of Central Florida or Florida Gulf Coast University.

Additional scholarships for adult learners will continue to be awarded throughout the summer. 

Community Foundation of Sarasota County

[Philanthropy]  Rotary Futures Awards Record Scholarships to VHS Students

This year, the Rotary Futures College Resource Center, a community-based nonprofit resource center that provides free post-secondary planning services to Venice-area students, assisted the Venice High School 2019 senior class with the most scholarships awarded to date. Of the reported scholarships received, the 540-member senior class garnered a total of $11.3 million in scholarships. Accepted private and institutional scholarships accounted for approximately $7.5 million of that total. 

Rotary Futures College Resource Center

[Philanthropy]  We Care Manatee Receives Grant from Community Foundation

We Care Manatee, Inc. received a $1,988 grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County that will enable it to better illustrate the impact of its services on Manatee County residents’ health and well-being. We Care Manatee facilitates the delivery of free medical care to low-income uninsured Manatee County residents utilizing physicians and specialists who volunteer their time. The organization is celebrating its 20th year providing services to the Manatee community. 

We Care Manatee

[ITB]  Nominations Are Open for the SRQ Good Hero Philanthropic Awards

Do you know someone who's making a real difference? Someone whose passion for giving back has had a positive impact on our community? Nominate them for the SRQ Local Hero Award. It could be an engaged staff member, volunteer, board member or donor patron who went above and beyond this past year to make our region a better place to live, work and play.

The winner will be announced at the SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards Luncheon on Wednesday November 6 at The Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Panelists will explore the organizations and individuals who are changing the face of the nonprofit world through innovative approaches, strategic alliances and groundbreaking initiatives that foster and employ engagement to make a difference.

Thank you to SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards event sponsor JFCS of the Suncoast and to the 2019-2020 SB2 Series sponsors: Merrill Lynch Mariash Lowther Wealth Management, JFCS of the Suncoast, The Hyatt Regency Sarasota and PSAV. Photos from the 2018 SB2: Philanthropic Agenda and Awards Program are available on CLICK SRQ

Click Here to Nominate a Local Hero

[TODAY]  GALLERY: Myakka Light , May 25 – June 28

Frank Bibbins has used infrared and low color imagery to capture the evolving landscape of the Myakka River and State Park over the past decade. This photography exhibit not only presents an intimate look at the preserve but concentrates on conservation and preservation. A public reception will be held June 7, 6-9pm.

Art Uptown Gallery, 1367 Main St., Sarasota

[TODAY]  THEATER: Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow , June 26 – August 10

This powerful musical biography celebrates the life of actress and singer Ethel Waters. From abject poverty to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, Ethel Waters crossed racial barriers to become a legend. No matter what challenges she faced, music gave Waters strength, solace, and success. 

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N Palm Ave., Sarasota

[TODAY]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Gauguin's Voyage to Paradise , February 10 – June 30

Just as Paul Gauguin left an indelible mark on the post-Impressionist art world, the deep impact of botanical imagery on his work cannot be denied. This exhibition will highlight the essential role of botanicals in achieving the artist’s vision of the savage, primitive and exotic. Together with lush displays of tropical plants in the conservatory and gardens, the show will feature dramatic woodcuts and rarely seen works in other mediums by the artist.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 South Palm Ave., Sarasota

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Elvis Jailhouse Ballroom Revival! , June 30, 7pm–9pm

From his romantic ballads to his lively jives, embark on a journey through the era of Elvis. Choreographed and directed by world-renowned three-time World Champion, Wilson Barrera, this production is performed by both the professional dance instructors and students of Wilson's Dance Club International. Experience Elvis like never before.

Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Share Your Story - SRQ Magazine's Reader Engagement Survey , July 1

There's still time to connect with the team at SRQ Magazine | Live Local and Love Local for the 2019 Readers Engagement Survey. We invite readers to share their thoughts on how they want to enjoy their time with the magazine—from the types of stories we cover to the way we lay them out in our pages. We want to know what you'd like to see more of in our coverage. Thank you for sharing your insights with us. To take the survey, visit SRQMAG.COM/HelloReader before July 1st.

[SOON]  GALA: "Red, White & You" Bayfront Kickoff Party , July 3

Kickoff the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival and 4th of July weekend at one of the biggest parties of the year! This event is a fundraiser for Suncoast Charities for Children. Guests will enjoy an open bar, island style food stations, live music and exciting live auction destination packages. Dress is Patriotic/Island Casual.


Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Grand Foyer, 777 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  SPORTS: Fireworks on the Lake 2019 , July 3, 7pm

Celebrate Independence Day a night early with music, food, concessions and a sky show on the water. Join in on a family fun, four-mile, patriotic themed race just before sundown, followed by the annual fireworks display on the lake. The race begins at 7pm, followed by fireworks at 9pm. Race participants get VIP parking for the fireworks, and a front row seat in the park after completing the race.

Nathan Benderson Park , 5851 Nathan Benderson Cir., Sarasota

[SOON]  SPORTS: Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix , July 5 – July 7

The first Sarasota Boat Races, called the Suncoast Offshore Racing Grand Prix, took place in 1984 and have become an annual event for thrill seekers and offshore boat racing enthusiasts. 2018 marks its 34th Anniversary. 

Hyatt Regency Sarasota , 1000 Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Annual Liberty Litter Cleanup , July 5, 7am-9am

Sarasota County is looking for volunteers to help clear trash on the beaches hit the hardest by the July 4th celebrations. Cleanup efforts will take place on Siesta Key Beach, Lido Beach, South Lido Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach and Blind Pass Beach.  All volunteers should report to the Site Captain at their cleaning location. 

Sarasota County , Various beaches

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Artwalk Weekend , July 5 – July 6

The Village is a residential neighborhood with a commercial overlay that creates a true live/work/play atmosphere. For 15 years, it has grown from a neglected neighborhood to one of the most unique and visited places in Manatee County. Come visit, shop, dine and stroll through galleries and restaurants with live music and unique indie art during Artwalk Weekend.

Village of the Arts, 12th St. W

[SOON]  FILM: Gazebo Starlight Cinema Series , July 5, 8pm

Join the Gazebo Starlight Cinema series with this month’s movie: Percy Jackson & The Olympians. With a screen stretched around the Gazebo pillars and family flicks back-projected from within, what better place than the facing grassy knoll to relax in a beach chair or curl up on a blanket? Bring the whole family to kick off your weekend while enjoying the park! Support local Venice Avenue businesses by bringing snacks, dinner, ice cream (or gelato!) to the Gazebo to enjoy during the movie. 

Downtown Venice Centennial Park, 200 West Venice Ave.

[SOON]  SCIENCE AND NATURE: Splashin' Saturdays , July 6 – July 27, 10am12pm

Join us at Splashin’ Selby Saturdays for water-themed activities, including water slides and games specifically geared for toddlers on up to children 10 years old. Enjoy the cool shade and Bay breezes under the banyans and around the lagoon and waterfall of the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden from 10am to 12pm.

This event runs Saturdays from July 6 until July 27.

[SOON]  FOOD: Oak & Stone PATIO PAW-TY , July 6, 12-6 pm

The PATIO PAW-TY takes place rain or shine at Oak & Stone's University location. The event fully benefits Nate's Honor Rescue, a Bradenton based animal rescue organization. There will be a raffle with prizes for both pups and people, as well as dogs available for adoption. 

Oak & Stone (University location), 5405 University Pkwy., Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSEUM: The Fabric of India , July 7 – October 13

This exhibition showcases over 140 examples drawn from the internationally-renowned holdings of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and private collections. This exposition illustrates the variety, technical sophistication and adaptability of Indian textiles from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Through a range of historical dress, carefully preserved fabrics, and cutting-edge fashion, discover how Indian textiles have been interwoven with religion, politics and global trade for centuries. Or join the Curator of Asian Art Dr. Rhiannon Paget for a tour at the Gallery Walk and Talk, 10:30am–6pm on July 25. 

The Ringling, 5401 Bay Shore Road

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. 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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