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SRQ DAILY Nov 2, 2019

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"What does the phrase "graduate with purpose" really mean?"

- Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  40 Years of Connecting Community
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Anniversaries are unique moments in a person or organization’s life that inspire reflection on what has come before and excitement for all that lies ahead. Like many joyous celebrations, anniversaries remind us all of something we value, resonating with meaning and importance that is individually tailored to each of our experiences. They can be tremendously personal while also being shared, as each person holds their own special date and reason to celebrate.

Before an anniversary arrives, however, there must be a beginning. In every situation, there are countless firsts, always evolving and gaining in significance as time passes. For the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, these firsts can take many familiar faces: the first donor connected to a cause, the first nonprofit partner awarded a grant, the first student impacted by a scholarship, and the list goes on. As these moments accumulated over the decades of our foundation’s history, a common thread appeared: the generosity and willingness of our community – public, private and nonprofit sectors alike – to deeply trust the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to be the bridge to bring people and causes together for the betterment of all.

Every person who has walked through the doors of the Community Foundation has a story, a passion, a drive, and this year we want to share those experiences with our generous community. Beginning this month, the Community Foundation will embark on a yearlong celebration of all the donors, nonprofits, local professionals and community members who have partnered with us over these past 40 years. Retracing our history of community impact goes hand-in-hand with highlighting the thousands of lives and memories that have defined and enhanced our commitment to uniting people and organizations to create opportunities for families across generations.

None of our achievements have occurred in isolation. Since our founding by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council in 1979, collaboration across sectors has been essential in fostering trust, confidence and connection to establishing a deep sensitivity and understanding of community needs. From this understanding grew opportunities to address emerging issues that were not largely recognized by the wider community, such as our 2Gen (two-generation) initiatives focused on helping children and their adults realize their greatest potential. These collaborative undertakings also allowed our foundation to expand beyond traditional grantmaking to tackle larger issues, including the threat of homelessness through the Season of Sharing campaign, which marks its 20th year this fall. 

Decade by decade, a unique culture of giving and sense of belonging arose alongside our foundation’s work in connecting community. Stemming from this development was our motto – “Be The One” – which still reflects our deeply-held belief that anyone can be a philanthropist and give back to the community regardless of means. The launch of the first Giving Challenge in 2012 built upon this premise and enhanced connectivity by creating a robust network of nonprofits and the caring individuals who support their causes.

While it is true that the Community Foundation is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, what we are truly honoring are the meaningful connections and relationships that have been strengthened along the way: donor by donor, nonprofit by nonprofit, community by community. Whether you are a longtime resident or relative newcomer, we hope you’ll join us for this yearlong celebration. After all, this anniversary is for all of us.

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


[On City]  The Smallest Sliver of Pie
Paul Caragiulo

Thanksgiving is upon us, so perhaps now is an appropriate time for the community to reflect on just how much we should be thankful for. Imagine that we are all sitting at the table together as any large family might do. The meal is representative of the abundance that the community enjoys. You are sitting with a mix of people some you love, some you don’t, some you like, some you don’t particularly like and some you don’t have an opinion about because it’s their first Thanksgiving Dinner. You are done with dinner, dessert and whatever else then someone places a small piece of pie on the table and it’s all out war. In Sarasota that’s sounds a lot like a discussion/debate about growth in our urban area. We love to fight over a small area.

Sarasota County consists of 556 square miles of land. The City of Sarasota makes up 14 of those square miles. If we tighten our boundaries into our urban core where currently buildings of either 10 and or perhaps an 18-story building may be constructed, we are now talking about an area which is barely over one half of a square mile. These areas are identified by their respective zoning districts, DTC (Downtown Core) and DTB (Downtown Bayfront). The two zoning districts make up only 0.01% of the land in the county. What’s more, I would bet at least 20% of that area is publicly owned not including roads and public right of way. Yes, the piece of pie we are often fighting over is that ridiculously small.

Check it out for yourself: look at Pie Chart A. Is that yellow part hard to see or what?  Don’t stare too long, it’s bad for your eyes, if you can’t see it, don’t worry, trust me it’s there. Did I mention the area is small?

On the other hand, property tax revenue, one of the many ways public services are paid for, is driven by taxable value. This does not include fire service or stormwater, that’s additional. Pie Chart B represents the taxable value from the same geographical area however, the yellow portion is hard not to see. If you can’t see it than perhaps maybe you should worry a little bit.  

Ever hear the complaint that growth is not paying “for itself”? Well there is literally some truth to that, because this growth is and has been paying for a lot more than just “itself.” The truth is, there are many in the community outside of that area that are benefitting tremendously.

Enough about percentages for a minute let’s talk about the real dollars coming from this sliver of pie, 40 million of them to be clear, a huge amount. Just for an example this includes over $17 million dollars of the $379 million that the School Board receives from property taxes, yet I would be surprised if more than a handful of school kids lived within the area we are talking about. Just the VUE alone sends $1.4 million into our schools. Funny, I never saw that on a STOP flyer.

Growth, or no growth? And if so where and how much? Well, if we are looking for the best ROI, I think I know the place. This area is exactly where investment should be both welcome and encouraged in our community.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Paul Caragiulo is a former Sarasota city and county commissioner. 

[Education]  Helping Students Find Intentional Purpose
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

The North Star strategy at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County is for all students to graduate with purpose prepared for their postsecondary future.

Our job is not finished when the student receives a high school diploma. We know that jobs today increasingly require graduates to acquire some level of specialized training, postsecondary credential, or workforce relevant certification, while also adopting a lifelong learning habit of acquiring skills and knowledge to empower them to adapt and prosper in future.

As the backbone organization for our Local College Access Network, we are examining how we can strengthen student readiness, access, affordability and completion to ensure students can successfully transition from high school and get “to and through” a technical school, community college, four-year university or military service.

We know that many factors influence this journey and students often take circuitous paths, and that’s okay. Yet, many do not successfully complete the courses they have chosen. As a community, we can help them do better.

It’s perplexing that we celebrate a nearly 90% high school graduation rate, yet we have only a 71% college-going rate, including technical schools, which is below the state average of 76%. And, according to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, only 11% of disadvantaged college students will earn a degree within six years of enrolling in college, compared to about 55% of their more advantaged peers. None of these percentages are glowing.

What does the phrase “graduate with purpose” really mean?

According to Stanford University’s Center on Adolescence, purpose is defined as “a forward-looking intention to accomplish goals that are meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self.”

Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence Dr. Bill Damon further states: “The biggest problem growing up today is not actually stress; it’s meaninglessness.”

The center shares a growing body of evidence indicating that purpose is associated with academic achievement, vocational success, energy, resilience and psychological and physical health throughout the lifespan. Purpose can be found in family, work, faith and other important life missions.

The EFSC is embarking on a creative problem-solving exercise that incorporates design thinking to help us understand how we might better empower youth in our community to discover who they are (interests and aptitudes); identify goals; and implement action steps that enable them to achieve their postsecondary pathways that lead to satisfying careers so that they become contributing members of the community.

We anticipate this will be messy work, and we are up to the challenge. With the sobering statistics listed above, coupled with youth depression and anxiety rising at alarming rates, helping students to find their purpose actually could lead to them owning their futures and living lives of intentionality.

That’s the “sweet spot” where you arrive when you figure out what you’re good at, with what you love, and with what you care about.

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

[SCOOP]  Sarasota Jungle Gardens to Host "Croc Aid" Event for Endangered Crocodilians

On Saturday, November 9, Sarasota Jungle Gardens is hosting an event to raise money for the Crocodilian Conservation Center of Florida, Inc. (CCCF). All proceeds support the construction of a zoological facility to house endangered and critically endangered crocodilians. The facility, located on 16 acres of land in Polk County, is being constructed in line with the American Zoological Association’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan. The CROC AID event includes a “Meet ‘n Greet” with international crocodilian experts, crocodilian photo opportunities, appetizers, and a live auction. The purpose of the CCCF is to provide safe and secure housing for endangered crocodilians. These species include the West African Slender-snouted crocodile, the Tomistoma, the Cuban crocodile, the Siamese crocodile, and the Chinese Alligator. The event will take place from 5:30pm – 9pm. Tickets are $25.00 for adults and $15.00 for college students with a valid ID. 

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

[SCOOP]  SMART's Horse Sense Literacy Program

SMART’s Horse Sense Literacy Program is provided to local school children in grades 3-5. Each student is provided with the book Magic, One SMART Horse by Jody Lynn McBrien and  participate in a field trip where they get to meet Magic, up close and personal. Magic is blind so his disability, as well as his amazing abilities, are obvious to all. When the students meet and touch Magic for the first time, the connection ignites a dialogue of overcoming hardships, building trust and understanding empathy.  

SMART Riders

[SCOOP]  Van Wezel Foundation Kicks Off 2020 Giving Season

The Van Wezel Foundation will launch its 2020 season with a matching campaign, thanks to the generosity of the James and Maryann Armour Family Foundation. The Armours will match each new donation dollar for dollar up to $25,000 in support of the Van Wezel Foundation’s commitment to providing meaningful arts education for over 30,000 children and educators throughout Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Hillsborough counties. Foundation grants will go toward multiple programs, including Van Wezel Schooltime Performances, a program that presents high quality, nationally and internationally renowned artists and performances for area students. The 2019-2020 season of Schooltime Performances features nine shows, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Pout-Pout Fish and Charlotte’s Web.  

Van Wezel Foundation

[SCOOP]  14th Annual Community Shoebox Drive & Reception To Benefit Meals On Wheels PLUS of Manatee

Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee’s 14th Annual Community Shoebox Drive and Reception presented by the Lakewood Ranch Elks Club will be held on Sunday, December 8, from 4-6pm at the Lakewood Ranch Elks Club. This event will benefit homebound seniors across Manatee County. Guests are encouraged to bring a wrapped and filled shoebox for a senior or a $20 donation at the door. The goal is to collect 1,000 shoeboxes to be delivered to seniors throughout the holidays by Meals on Wheels PLUS volunteers. 

Meals on Wheels Plus

[SCOOP]  Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation Distributes Over $5.5 Million In Patient Grants Since 2011

Since its inception in 2011, the Florida Cancer Specialists (FCS) Foundation has provided over $5.5 million in grants to help cancer patients in need. The FCS Foundation has awarded $1.16 million in grants year-to-date in 2019, surpassing the prior year’s total. The FCS Foundation provides financial support to qualified adult cancer patients in the state of Florida to help them pay for essential non-medical expenses, such as rent or mortgage, car payments and utility bills. In response to a 21 percent increase in patient applications in 2019, the FCS Foundation Board of Directors recently approved increasing the annual maximum individual grant amount from $1,500 to $2,000 beginning January 1, 2020. All of the overhead expenses required to operate the Foundation are paid for by the physicians of Florida Cancer Specialists so that 100% of donations go directly towards paying essential non-medical living expenses.  

Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation

[SCOOP]  Live Music Line-Up Announced for Siesta Key Crystal Classic

Live music is coming to Siesta Beach on November 15–18th. 10 bands will perform under a massive tent on the beach during the family-friendly festival and the lineup will include an eclectic roster of popular area acts. The festival will be open Saturday and Sunday nights until 9 pm with live music, drinks at the party tent, and a fabulous light display of the 16 amazing sand sculptures. Other festival attractions include free sand sculpting lessons and demos, an amateur competition on Saturday, Quick Sand speed sculpting, and an array of food, drink, and retail vendors. 

Siesta Key Crystal Classic

[SCOOP]  Florida Studio Theatre Presents Outlaws and Angels

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) proudly presents Outlaws and Angels, a rousing revue celebrating the “outlaws” of country music and the “angels” who loved them. Sharing tales of hard knocks and lively living, Outlaws and Angels honors the rebels of the past and explores their connection to the country music of today. Beginning November 20 in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret, Outlaws and Angels features such hits as “I Walk the Line,” “Desperado,” and ”Ramblin’ Man.” This brand new musical revue by Rebecca Hopkins and Richard Hopkins includes arrangements by Jim Prosser. Single tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at (941) 366-9000 or floridastudiotheatre.org. 

Florida Studio Theatre

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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