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SRQ DAILY Jul 6, 2024

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential form that every graduating student must submit to determine their eligibility to receive financial aid to fund their education after high school"

- Jennifer Vigne, President and CEO, Education Foundation of Sarasota County..
 

[Education]  New Graduates Still Have Time for FAFSA
Jennifer Vigne, jvigne@edfoundationsrq.org

If you are a relative or friend of a high school student, please help us spread good news that it is not too late for new graduates to apply for funding that can help them realize their dreams for after high school.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential form that every graduating student must submit to determine their eligibility to receive financial aid to fund their education after high school.

In addition to the Federal Pell Grant, other scholarship and grant programs rely on the FAFSA determination to guide award decisions.  

Encouraging students to complete the FAFSA is beneficial both for individuals and community economic vitality. As more local students submit the FAFSA, they receive more Pell Grant awards to help them complete education and training beyond high school. Data show that earnings increase significantly as the level of education rises. Trained, skilled workers qualify for higher-paying jobs, boosting their personal career advancement as well as contributing to a strong, resilient local workforce.         

Many people have read about or experienced firsthand the major changes made to FAFSA this year. The FAFSA Simplification Act changes, which the U.S. government mandated in 2020, were scheduled to be effective for the 2024-25 application year. 

The revamped FAFSA form is greatly simplified, but its rollout was hampered with glitches that delayed application completion and notification of eligibility to students. By the time FAFSA errors were fixed, some frustrated families had given up and students had delayed or shelved education pursuits, unsure if they could cover costs. 

Nationwide, FAFSA submissions from the Class of ’24 graduates were down significantly from the past year. At the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, we monitored the situation and prepared a local action plan shaped around our knowledge that:  

  • Completing the FAFSA is a strong indication of a student’s likelihood of pursuing education after high school.
  • Per the Florida College Access Network, 60% of Florida jobs will require a degree or credential by 2030, but only 45.6% of local residents aged 25-64 currently meet the criteria. 
  • A thriving local economy depends on an educated, agile, and ready workforce, and completing the FAFSA opens pathways to needed degrees or credentials. 

Through the collective effort of community and education partners and with the support of donors, PLANit Sarasota, the alliance for education and career planning administered by the Education Foundation, is hosting FAFSA open house workshops in Sarasota County high schools, colleges, LaunchPad4U and at partner organizations. 

There still is time to submit a FAFSA and make a plan for this year. FAFSA open house workshops will continue through July, and students and families can work one-on-one with a FAFSA expert. 

Please help us spread the good news to the Class of ’24 high school graduates. A schedule of July’s FAFSA Open Houses can be found at the Education Foundation’s website, edfoundationsrq.org.

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

Graphic courtesy Education Foundation

[Community]  United We Stand
Jacob Ogles, jacob.ogles@srqme.com

Aside from vibrant fireworks displays, the Fourth of July holiday provides the time to reflect on our nation’s many virtues. As Americans, we are bound by shared values, including the ideal that the youngest among us should have the benefit of a strong foundation upon which to build the skills that can achieve their potential.

We are fortunate to live in an area that’s home to several nonprofit organizations that provide critical support services to youth, especially during the summer months. For years, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties have offered affordable summer programs for youth, which are free to families whose income qualifies them. Programs at the Clubs run daily, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and two meals are served each day to youth who attend. 

This year, the Lee Wetherington Club is piloting a staffing enhancement model that propels the program forward. With the addition of an enrichment director, academics director and wellness director, the Club will provide wraparound services that will help youngsters develop critical personal and academic habits. 

The new model addresses physical and mental wellness, enabling youth to build emotional resilience, a critical need in a time when nearly half of all middle- and high school students in Sarasota County report feeling “sad or depressed on most days.”  The academic piece will involve deeper collaboration with local schools and other partners, building a strong support network for students’ academic success at a time when academic performance, as assessed through standardized testing, is steadily declining in the county.  

These enhancements rely heavily on collaboration, showcasing the strength that comes when people work together for a common cause. Through these enhancements, the Clubs are transformed from being safe, dependable childcare for working parents, to being a destination that truly empowers youth, building a strong trajectory that can lead to positive outcomes down the road. The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is proud to sponsor this innovative initiative, which helps youth and families in our area.

This type of programming, and the unique, invaluable support it offers our neighbors, is one example of the strengths of our nonprofit community, according to findings from the Community Foundation’s recently published State of the Nonprofit Sector Report. Using data from The Giving Partner, an online database of nearly 750 nonprofit organizations serving Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties, the report analyzes several indicators of nonprofit well-being, capacity and ability to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community. 

In the final analysis, the report finds that our area’s nonprofits, with an array of organizations serving an astonishing number of causes, provide a vital pillar for our community, helping to create and safeguard the values we hold most dear. These values—which amount to building a strong community, now and in the future—are a reminder, as we celebrate our nation, of the principles that unite us.

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

Photo courtesy Pixabay.



[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]  BUSINESS: Lets Connect at Oscura in Old Manatee , August 31 – December 26, 8:30-10am

Connect with local business owners at every Thursday at Oscura. Lets Connect is a community of collaborative business professionals from the Manatee and Sarasota County areas. RSVP on Eventbrite to attend, admission is free.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Collaborative Coworking Meetup at UTC , September 1 – December 27, 11am-4pm

Attention all business professionals, join us for a productive and inspiring coworking event at Panera Bread at the UTC Mall every Friday. Take advantage of this opportunity to network and collaborate with fellow professionals in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Limited spots available, so register now on Eventbrite. Panera Bread, 215 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Siesta Key Rum Distillery Tours , September 2 – September 30, Various times

Siesta Key Rum runs free year-round tours for guests to learn the story of the craft distillery, the awards they have won and the secret to how they make their rums taste so good. During our 30-45 minute tour we will discuss the following topics: history of Siesta Key Rum, an overview of the awards our small company has won, what makes our rums taste so good, the rum-making process from mashing and fermentation to distillation, barrel aging and bottling of our rums. After the tour, we welcome you to sample a freshly made Siesta Key Rum cocktail, stock up on your favorite rums and browse our gift shop. 2212 Industrial Blvd., Sarasota.

[SOON]  FOOD: Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch , September 3 – September 30, 10am-2pm

Experience some of the best food and flavors of the region with more than 100, and still growing, curated vendors. The Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch has fast become a favorite weekly tradition for people from all over the region seeking farm-fresh produce, delicious prepared foods, and specialty items and gifts. Aside from all the goodies you can shop at the Farmers Market, find your flow in a free yoga class or have the kiddos get creative during weekly-hosted workshops. 1561 Lakefront Dr., Lakewood Ranch.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens , November 11 – August 31, N/a

Clyde Butcher: Nature Through the Lens will be on view through August 31, 2024 at the Historic Spanish Point campus. Selby Gardens is excited to present the extraordinary imagery of photographer and conservationist Clyde Butcher throughout the grounds of the Historic Spanish Point campus. Large-scale prints on aluminum of Butcher’s beautiful photographs of plants, animals, and habitats of Florida will be exhibited amid the natural landscape of the 30-acre waterfront preserve, enabling the public to engage with the artist’s work like never before. In the tradition of earlier landscape photographers like Ansel Adams, Butcher captures the beauty and majesty of America’s natural treasures in dramatic black and white. The unique environments of Florida have been subjects of particular interest to Butcher since the 1980s, when he was first introduced to the magic and mystery of sites such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. Nature Through the Lens will include Butcher’s photographs of regional locales such as Myakka River State Park and Casey Key. This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Clyde Butcher Gallery & Studio in Venice, Florida. For more information, visit selby.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Shinique Smith, Parade , January 4 – January 5, Various times

Enjoy the extraordinary opportunity to experience the work of contemporary artist Shinique Smith in conversation with the collection of European art at The Ringling. Unfolding across six galleries of the Museum of Art, the exhibition creates a series of unique stories that together form an abstract narrative of the parade as a metaphor for life. Well known for her monumental sculptures created from an array of materials, including luxurious textiles, personal clothing, dyed fabrics, ribbon, and wood, and for her abstract paintings of calligraphy and collage, Smiths work in this exhibition speaks to various facets of the European artistic tradition, such as classical drapery and religious iconography, while foregrounding notions of Black femininity and the history of the circus. Learn more at ringling.org.

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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