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SRQ DAILY Apr 1, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

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Saturday Perspectives Edition

"When students believe they can achieve their goals, when their own stories and the stories of others confirm those beliefs, they are more apt to grow. "

- Es Swihart, Education Foundation of Sarasota County

[Community]  Challenge Accepted: Gearing up for Giving Challenge 2024
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

It may seem challenging to find commonalities among diverse nonprofits like On the Spot Aid, Friends of the Myakka River, Prospect Riding Center, Harvest House and the Humane Society of Sarasota County.

While their missions are vastly different, each organization was a top campaigner for our area's last Giving Challenge in 2022. Although their purposes are distinct, what each represents is the wide and varied importance of our region's vital nonprofit community. 

Last week, we announced the Community Foundation of Sarasota County will host the area’s ninth Giving Challenge event from noon to noon, April 9-10, 2024. Critically, The Patterson Foundation will join again with their irresistibly incentivizing matching fund opportunity.  

Historically, the Giving Challenge is an event that unites people to champion the nonprofit community, which supports an array of causes, from helping the most vulnerable individuals to preserving our region’s natural resources to sustaining the strength of our cherished arts organizations. The Giving Challenge is an exhilarating, spirited event supporting this vital sector that is critical to the quality of life in our community.

Since the inception of our Giving Challenge in 2012, the one-day giving event has become a highly anticipated and much-needed resource for our nonprofit community. Over the last 12 years and eight previous Giving Challenges, the event raised more than $75 million in unrestricted funding to support the work of our nonprofit community. This means nonprofits can direct funds where they are most needed and use the money flexibly in a changing environment. 

The funding that goes to participating organizations is substantial—last year alone, $16.2 million was raised among 667 participating nonprofits, with each organization raising an average of $14,500. Part of the success of fundraising lies in the excitement and democratic spirit of the Giving Challenge: all people who live in our community are invited to give to their preferred causes, and the short window for donating imbues the event with invigorating urgency. A major factor for success in the fundraising is the match provided by The Patterson Foundation, a 1:1 match on all dollars given, up to $100. This strengthens giving and amplifies impact—$6 million of the 2022 total came from The Patterson Foundation and more than $30 million since the online giving event’s inception.

The Giving Challenge endures as a vital event for other reasons as well. As a concept, it is anchored by a commitment to skill building and capacity strengthening. Fundraising as an end doesn’t sustain organizations; great organizational practices do. Throughout the year leading up to the Giving Challenge, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County offers numerous training opportunities that help organizations learn planning strategies, collaborative skills, best practices in marketing and more.

Some incentive for building skills also comes in the form of contests. In 2022, there were 22 prize categories, and nonprofits could enter to win money awards. The categories, such as “Best Social Media Marketing” and “Best Pop-Up Event,” gave nonprofits the chance to hone their skills in these areas, which can come in handy later.  The competitive process indicates to nonprofits how their campaigns fare against their peers, offering the chance to evaluate and refine practical skills. 

This skill-building pays off. The 2022 Giving Challenge participants who forged or strengthened new partnerships with businesses and other nonprofits report earning exponentially more dollars than those without partners, and the partnerships and skills live on to infuse a longer-term relationship that goes far beyond the final seconds of the official Giving Challenge window. 

When it comes to philanthropy, planning is key. This finding from the 2022 Giving Challenge survey to nonprofits rises above all others. For donors, maximizing impact through leveraging matches makes a huge difference—one couple in 2022 gave $100 to each of the participating 667 organizations, a sizable $66,700 donation, which was doubled thanks to the matching opportunity. For nonprofits, coordinating collaborations and strategizing marketing activities reaps rewards in the final Giving Challenge tally and beyond. Takeaways from 2022 included nonprofits reporting extended reach in the community, obtaining new donors and increasing capacity to help more people. You can read more insights about the 2022 event on our website.

Our community’s culture of caring is emphasized through events like the Giving Challenge. In 2022, more than 46,000 donors showed up and offered incredible support through more than 83,000 individual gifts. But if the past few years illustrated anything, it’s that the future is uncertain. Planning ahead for the unplanned is a way for organizations—and people who want to support them—to sustain performance in a constantly changing world. The Giving Challenge may be just 24 hours, but it fuels timeless community strength. 

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

[Education]  The Power of Stories and Self-Worth
Es Swihart

For 16 years, I have taught English at public and private high schools. Storytelling plays a central role in what I do. I am struck by the works of Louise Erdrich, Margaret Atwood, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes and so many others, but am equally fascinated by the stories my students tell about themselves. 

Narratives matter. The stories we tell about ourselves, the stories we internalize and perhaps never share, the stories others tell about us and those stories we encounter everywhere — on social media, on TV, in music, at the store— all profoundly affect how we perceive ourselves and progress through life. 

Last year, I began graduate studies through the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Mind, Brain and Teaching program. In my research, I am exploring how self-worth is an essential, indeed predominant, factor in student engagement and achievement. I am also looking at how narrative determines self-worth.

My studies expand and deepen my appreciation for the role of stories in our lives and how I experience their power every day in the classroom. Students with a high sense of self-worth—with stories that confirm their positive, healthier sense of self—are much more apt to engage meaningfully with the material. They are better equipped to weather setbacks and succeed. They’re more resilient. I see it all the time, and research bears it out. 

A focus for improving student achievement, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, has been intensive learning and remediation. Both are essential tools in helping students make up for lost learning and in preparing them to succeed academically.

Equally important is the holistic development of students in which they have a strong sense of self-worth and purpose. When students believe they can achieve their goals, when their own stories and the stories of others confirm those beliefs, they are more apt to grow. Belief in oneself and in what they are doing is vital to a growth mindset.

In a world that to many students feels increasingly unsteady, resilience is essential. Schools across the country are facing a student mental health crisis, one I see in my own classroom. I see a range of issues from disinterest in learning and engaging in school to severe depression. As a mother and a teacher, I am troubled by this crisis and understand the urgent need to support students and help them develop their sense of self-worth. 

Students must feel valued, and of course teachers too. When teachers feel valued, they are more likely to model respect, enthusiasm and care. They are likely to create safe environments where all students know their teachers value them and will illuminate their potential—a place where learning makes more sense. 

Many students with unstable or unhealthy homelives take refuge in welcoming classrooms where teachers care about all their students provide essential stability and love some desperately crave and need. Through compassion and encouragement, teachers help these students understand the missing story about their own self-worth. 

When those stories are confirmed by other teachers and trusting adults, self-worth grows stronger and can better withstand negative stories. It’s essential students, especially those most underserved, can access relationships that affirm their potential and reinforce stories of value and possibility. 

For five years, I served on the board of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, first as a teacher representative and now a general board member. I am honored to help guide and support an organization that so values the voices of educators and works to support a holistic approach to student success grounded in the power of relationships to transform lives.

Today, I am excited to be part of a task force within the Education Foundation developing new ways to connect at-risk students to caring adults who will help them change the narrative from one of failure to one of success. It seeks to improve student achievement through life readiness and resilience. I’m inspired by the work I have seen through student success coaching, where a trusting, caring adult helps students formulate stories of success and then connects them to the resources they need to help achieve it. The faith these coaches have in students makes a difference.

One of the joys of reading, I teach my students, is that stories are never fixed. Our understanding of stories changes. Our experiences color the way we interpret the actions of characters in a text—and that understanding can evolve. Just like the most memorable characters in literature, people change. They can recover. They can move on. They can succeed. That’s the story all students deserve to hear.

Do you recognize the value of connecting students to caring adults and changing the narrative? Learn about joining our efforts at the Education Foundation. You can make a difference: edfoundationsrq.org/students/mentoring/become-a-mentor/.

Es Swihart is a board member of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and 2018 Sarasota County Schools Teacher of the Year. 

[BOSRQ]  2023 Best of SRQ Local
Reader Quote Compilation + Writing by Ariel Chates and Barbie Heit

2023 Best of SRQ Local | SRQ Readers set epic records in the 15th annual Best of SRQ Local Competition with 104,395 votes for their hometown favorites, April 2023. 

Read Here!

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: 99 Bottles Easter Kegg Hunt , March 28 – April 9, Various times

Leave the Easter egg hunting for the kiddos, this scavenger hunt is for the adults! 99 Bottles Taproom and Bottle Shop is excited to officially announce its first-ever Easter (K)egg Hunt. 9 Bottles has hidden 6 Easter (K)eggs in businesses all around Downtown Sarasota and it’s your job to find them. Just as we decorate Easter eggs, these (K)eggs have been designed by six local artists, each with their own unique twist and personality. Hop around downtown to find all six. Stop by 99 Bottles Taproom and Bottle Shop located at 1445 2nd Steet any time in the month leading up to Easter (starting now) to gather all of the details and pick up your clues to the keg’s locations. The first person or group to find all of the locations will win the grand prize, but everyone who participates will have chances to win other great prizes throughout the month! 1445 2nd St., Sarasota, 99bottles.net.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Paralyzed at Florida Studio Theatre , March 29 – April 21, Various times

Leigh and Lee are two strangers who have little in common besides their names. She is a Type A statistician, and he is an aggressive former athlete. But the discovery of a mysterious suicide note in a hotel bathroom sets their lives on unexpected paths that go anywhere but according to plan. Paralyzed tells a striking story of guilt, personal responsibility, and the power of forgiveness. Single tickets range from $18-39 and are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or 941.366.9000. FST's Bowne's Lab Theatre, 1265 1st St., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art at Ringling Museum , March 29 – September 4, Museum hours

Reclaiming Home, Contemporary Seminole Art group exhibition will mark The Ringling’s first presentation of contemporary art by Native American artists with ancestral, historical, and present-day connections to Florida. An imperative step toward establishing a meaningful relationship with the Native American artistic community, Reclaiming Home will highlight the breadth and depth of the artwork by Seminole, Miccosukee, and mixed-heritage artists from Florida with the important work by internationally-recognized artists. The exhibition will expand the conceptual framework of Native American art made in Florida today and provide a fuller understanding of the complexities of issues within the art of the Seminole diaspora. Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Mutiny on the S.S. Luna Sea at the Players Centre , March 31 – April 2, Various times

The Players Follies, the 55 and up performance group at The Players Studio, present their self-written, world-premiere original musical Mutiny on the S.S. Luna Sea! It’s the maiden voyage of the S.S. Luna Sea, and it is not smooth sailing (pun intended). Singing! Dancing! Jokes! Deserted islands! This show has it all. The Players Studio, 1400 Blvd. of the Arts, Suite 200, Sarasota, theplayers.org.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Masterworks 7: A Hero's Life at Sarasota Orchestra , March 31 – April 2, Various times

Sarasota Orchestra concludes the Masterworks season with a program of heroic proportions. Internationally acclaimed violinist Gil Shaham shines in one of his signature works, Korngold’s sweeping, cinematic Violin Concerto. The Orchestra is the star of Richard Strauss’ virtuosic tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life). This thinly veiled musical autobiography includes snippets of Strauss’ greatest hits and has been thrilling audiences for 125 years. The Orchestra will premiere a new work by Sarah Gibson entitled to make this mountain taller, a commission of the League of American Orchestras with the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Carlos Miguel Prieto, Music Director of the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico and of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, will conduct. Van Wezel, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, sarasotaorchestra.org. 

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Conservation Foundation Wild About Nature Festival , April 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast announces the return of their Wild About Nature Festival on Saturday, April 1, 2023. This celebrated community event will take place at the organization’s Bay Preserve headquarters. With an exhibitor line-up featuring many local environmental and youth-serving organizations, this annual festival brings the community together, connecting kids to the beauty and wonder of the natural world through a fun-filled day of nature-based activities and exploration. Activities include tree climbing, nature printing, native plant planting, animal encounters, dip-netting, face painting, crafts, and more. Multiple food trucks will also be onsite including Currywurst, Killicks Kitchen, Kona Ice, and The Maine Line. This family-friendly event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. 400 Palmetto Avenue, Osprey, conservationfoundation.com/events.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab 8th Annual Remote Control Custom Car Open , April 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Come by and capture some of the magic that is this unique competition. The Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab 8th Annual Remote Control (RC) Custom Car Open is an engineering and design competition for elementary and middle school students, organized by a high school student committee. Nearly 60 teams of students have spent the last eight weeks designing and customizing remote control cars using Fab Lab makerspace equipment like 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, vacuum former machines and more. Teams will compete on two custom-built race tracks and in a design competition for prizes that include cash and scholarships. Over 55 teams of 160 kids will race custom-designed remote control cars in a bracket-style competition to determine the Grand Champion! Plus, the racetracks were custom-built here at the Fab Lab. Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab, 4452 S. Beneva Rd., Sarasota, suncoastscience.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Compound Boardshop 20th Anniversary Party , April 1, 6 to 9 p.m.

Get ready to party with Compound Boardshop on April 1st as they mark 20 years of serving this rad community. This anniversary party will be jam-packed with live music from Surfer Blood, mouthwatering pizza from Origin Pizza, delectable donuts from Peachy’s Baking Company and the best beer ever brewed to wash it all down from Calusa Brewing all for free! There will also be live monkeys, clowns and magicians. 3604 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, compoundboardshop.com.

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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