Education Foundation of Sarasota County Recognized at Change Agents in Philanthropy Awards Luncheon

The Giving Coast

Pictured: Jennifer Vigne Chief Executive Officer Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

On March 10th SRQ Media recognized five local nonprofits who have leaned into change, particularly after an extremely challenging year, at the SB2 Transformation in Philanthropy luncheon and panel discussion. The event took place at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota where all parties were thrilled to be gathered together in person. The Change Agents in Philanthropy Awards focus on the capacity of the independent sector to be innovative in the face of change in fundraising, donor cultivation and development, mission, programming, branding and visibility and operations.We are pleased to highlight each of the nonprofit groups recognized at the luncheon as part of our Wednesday Philanthropy edition.

There is an issue that has long impacted schools across the country - and Sarasota County Schools are not immune to it. Even in pre-pandemic years, almost half of the high school seniors in the district graduated without a clear path for life after graduation. The COVID-19 pandemic, with the transition to online schooling, the wave of teachers leaving on paid and unpaid leave, and mounting anxiety in everybody, only exacerbated that issue. This issue, however, is not limited to high school seniors - it’s a result that has stemmed from a lack of educational resources in grades K-12. In 2020-2021, when students were given the option to learn remotely or in person and teachers had to teach concurrently to both groups, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County knew that it was time for action.

In 2021, the nonprofit opened LaunchPad4U - a community resource center in downtown Sarasota that ensured students and families could have access to their resources even as schools were closed to outside visitors. LaunchPad4U served as the base for PLANit Sarasota, the Foundation's mentoring program, their Teacher Leadership Center and their fourth Student Success Center. These centers propelled students - many with non-English speaking families - to apply for FAFSA forms and pursued education after college. The Foundation also found ways to adapt by shifting much of their resources online - the same resources offered by advisers at Student Success Centers could also be accessed through zoom meetings. That same methodology came to mind when discussing the mounting mental health needs of students during these uncertain times - by partnering with Dr. Stacie Herrera, through Telement, and with the Forty Carrots Family Center, to provide students with 90-minute virtual wellness visits.

CEO Jennifer Vigne believes that “incremental change is sustainable change” and that “resolve, perseverance and discipline are what lead to incremental change.”

Pictured: Jennifer Vigne Chief Executive Officer Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

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