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SRQ DAILY Sep 16, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"Together with philanthropic families, we have provided $3.5 million in immediate relief to area nonprofits devastated by the storm."

- Phillip P. Lanham, Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

[Gulf Coast]  Twelve Days
Phillip Lanham, planham@gulfcoastcf.org

One year of resiliency. One year of rebuilding and recovery. One year stronger, together. 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative has supported over 200 grants to our strong nonprofit partners paving the way in recovery efforts. Together with philanthropic families, we have provided $3.5 million in immediate relief to area nonprofits devastated by the storm.

With a focus on health and human services needs in southern Sarasota County including hard-hit Venice, North Port, Englewood, Charlotte County, Lee County and DeSoto County, we were able to provide help to our region just days after the storm’s impacts were realized. Our team worked around the clock with donors and nonprofit partners to fulfill our purpose as a community foundation – to improve the lives of the people we serve.

It’s hard to believe that in 12 days, on September 28, one year will have passed since the Gulf Coast region was struck by Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S. I was working at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation at the time, and I made sure to send out a giving alert to fundholders to encourage them to support Ian relief efforts. I can remember watching the news from Cincinnati, seeing the stories of heroes – individuals in our own community – lifting one another up after a disaster. These were miraculous, heroic efforts that strengthened my faith in humanity.

Little did I know at the time that months later I would be leading the helm at Gulf Coast Community Foundation where I am now able to share our Hurricane Ian recovery impact and the stories of these heroes.

The beauty of philanthropy was demonstrated by Gulf Coast’s donors who came together to support the greatest needs of our nonprofit partners. Paul and Sharon Steinwachs, philanthropic partners of Gulf Coast, were moved by this initiative. Paul shared, “I’m humbled again by what you are doing and what occurred out there. It puts so many things in perspective in life.” Sharon added, “It makes us appreciate that we do have an organization such as Gulf Coast to help have a positive impact so quickly. We didn’t know where the need was greatest and how to make our donations go the furthest, but Gulf Coast did that for us. Thank you for all your efforts.” 

Our Board of Directors approved a funding commitment of $1 million over three years to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties to rebuild the Gene Matthews Club in North Port that was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. Prior to the storm, the Club provided over 450 children and teens with award-winning programs that empower them to get good grades, become leaders, practice healthy habits and create plans for success after high school. We heard their call for help and we answered. Gene Matthews, who the club was named after in 1997, was a respected Gulf Coast Board member from 1997 to 2003. We were sad to hear of his recent passing and we are grateful for all his public service and years of dedication to our community.

We provided $50,000 to All Faiths Food Bank to provide food and water to south Sarasota County and Charlotte County to support hunger relief efforts. All Faiths Food Bank shared with us that community support and collaboration were critical in reaching those impacted by Ian and providing the financial resources to cover the costs of fuel, staff overtime and lots of food and safe drinking water. Immediately following the hurricane, All Faiths Food Bank provided: 377,900 meals, 220,000 snacks, 159,100 pounds of produce and 420,300 bottles of water. In the 30 days following the storm, they distributed over 500,000 pounds of food at 27 pop-up distribution sites throughout their service area. Additional food resources were purchased and shared with Harry Chapin Food Bank and several of their partner agencies within Charlotte County. Additionally, 49,600 meals were provided to neighbors in need in Charlotte County.

For many people, Hurricane Idalia reawakened the memories of Hurricane Ian and the importance of coming together as a community. Our thoughts are with the areas north of us, especially in the Big Bend region. We have directly reached out to our fellow community foundations in the Big Bend area to offer our support. Click here to find ways you can help those affected by Hurricane Idalia.

These are just a few of the many heroic stories we have heard at Gulf Coast on our Hurricane Ian recovery impact. As we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian, I know we will hold our families a little closer and value our community resources that much more. For we are stronger, together.

Phillip P. Lanham is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

Photo courtesy All Faiths Food Bank.

[Argus]  Science and Social Studies Scores a Mixed Bag
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

The Argus Foundation over the last two months has taken Florida Department of Education data from the end of year assessment scores to compare Sarasota County Schools, and schools within the district, in English and in math. This month we are going to cover science and social studies.

Sarasota ties for ninth in the state in Biology 1 and gained two percentage points in proficiency from last year to this year. Sarasota is 9 points above the state average but 14 percentage points behind first place St. John’s County.

Sarasota ranks 10th in 8th Grade science in the state and lost a percentage point in proficiency from 2022. Sarasota has 40% of their middle schools with more students Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in 8th grade science than proficient, six of those schools are below the state average. Those schools are Imagine School at North Port, Heron Creek Middle School, Sarasota Military Academy, Sky Academy Venice, Booker Middle School and Triad.

Sarasota ranks third in 5th Grade science in the state. Sarasota increased proficiency by 9 percentage points from last year but still has one third of students who are Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in 5th Grade science. Seven schools have more students who are Below Satisfactory or Inadequate in 5th Grade science than those that are proficient. Those schools are Tuttle Elementary, Glenallen Elementary, Imagine School at Palmer Ranch, Gocio Elementary, Emma E. Booker Elementary, Sarasota Academy of the Arts and Suncoast School for Innovative Studies.

In Social Studies, Sarasota ranks ninth in the state in U.S. History proficiency. It maintained its proficiency from last year, neither dropping nor improving. Sarasota County is 10 points above the state average but 10 points under St. Johns County, which ranks first in the state. There are three schools below the state average, they are Booker High, Sarasota Virtual Instruction and Triad.

In Civics, Sarasota ranks third in the state behind St. Johns and Lafayette counties. Sarasota dropped three percentage points of proficiency from the previous year, but did have four out of five students in the county who were proficient in Civics. There are three schools below the state average score. Those schools were Imagine School at North Port, Booker Middle School and Triad.

This is the first year for this type of testing. The state has yet to release the scores based upon demographics due to the new benchmarks and assessments. We expect that data to be released this fall, along with school and district grades. When those are released, we will continue with our Sarasota Schools Data Dig reporting to help the community understand where we stand with education in Sarasota County. There is more data to come.

Christine Robinson is Executive Director of The Argus Foundation. 

Photo courtesy Pixabay.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Sarasota Cars and Coffee at University Town Center , March 11 – December 9, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

This monthly gathering of car enthusiasts brings together automobile lovers from every walk of life, not to mention a wide array of spectacular cars. Bring your own vehicle (all makes and models are welcome) to show off, or check out the hundreds of cars on display. Each month, the event sponsors a different charity, and attendees are encouraged to donate $10 to benefit the charity. The event, occuring on the second Sunday of each month, will feature live music, complimentary coffee and more. To learn more, visit facebook.com/carsandcoffee941. Sarasota Cars and Coffee, The West District at University Town Center near Ford’s Garage, 295 N. Cattlemen Rd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Lorna Bieber, Natural World at The Ringling , May 20 – October 15, Museum hours

The Ringling presents a solo exhibition of works by Lorna Bieber in May that includes two new pieces making their debut in the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Her artwork first and foremost encourages us to indulge in the pleasures of looking and discovering anew the details of the visual world. Her artistic practice is grounded in appropriating, recycling, and manipulating imagery. The work reminds us of the image world that inundates our daily existence. Our experience of reality is mediated through a barrage of photographic digital images that supplants our connection to the natural world. Yet, Bieber is less interested in a critique of this condition than she is in offering her work as an antidote, a way to inspire viewers and reconnect with our shared sense of wonder. Included with museum admission. The Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Harvest Farmers Market at Wellen Park , June 25 – December 29, 9 am to 1 pm

Visit Fresh Harvest, the newly launched weekly farmers market in Downtown Wellen. Fresh Harvest offers a selection of local goods from nearly 40 local vendors. Fresh Harvest takes place every Sunday in Downtown Wellen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Attendees can peruse different vendor booths and stock up on a variety of goods. Vendors will offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced food, including herbs, spices, cut flowers, teas, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, syrups, baked goods, pickled foods, fresh seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, milk and prepared food and beverages. A limited selection of craft vendors also participate in the farmers market. For a listing of participating vendors and more information on Fresh Harvest Farmers Market, visit wellenpark.com/events/fresh-harvest-farmers-market. Downtown Wellen, 19745 Wellen Park Blvd., Venice.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Friday Fest at The Van Wezel , July 11 – September 22, 5-9pm

Friday Fest, the free, outdoor summertime concert series at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall continues with TEN-76 on August 11. TEN-76 is a powerhouse high energy band that covers classic and modern rock. From the Lakewood Ranch homebase, TEN-76 regularly plays many of the local venues and are expanding in the Southeast Region. They have volunteered their time and entertainment for many charities to help raise funds and awareness.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place , July 28 – May 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Head out to Waterside Place for a rocking evening as part of the Lakewood Ranch Sights and Sounds Program. Enjoy a live concert in partnership with Easterseals and EveryoneRocks, featuring artists who are rocking their spectrum. This event is free and open to the public; there is limited seating at the Plaza, but attendees are welcome to bring their own seats. Food and beverages will be available from numerous Waterside Place merchants. For more information on shows, dates, and times, visit lakewoodranch.com/sights-sounds/. Waterside Place, 1560 Lakefront Dr., Sarasota.

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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