Children First wins $60,000 grant from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and $50,000 grant from Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation

Funds provided in support of Challenge for Saving Lives, a 60th anniversary initiative of Children First

Photo courtesy of Children First

Children First has received a $60,000 grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, Children First has announced.

“These grants are in support of The Challenge for Changing Lives, the agency’s $1,060,000 challenge match,” which was launched earlier this year in recognition of Children First’s 60th anniversary, a news release explains.

“Led by Children First’s Diamond Circle, a dedicated group of key supporters,” The Challenge was planned with the goals of increasing support of early childhood education, strengthening families, and providing comprehensive services for families living at risk, the release add.

“Founded in 1961, Children First has grown to serve hundreds of children and their families annually at 15 locations throughout Sarasota County,” with campuses in Venice, North Port and Sarasota, the release points out. Sixty years later after it was established, the release adds, “[T]he agency has become a four-time designated Head Start Program of Excellence and ranks in the top 1%” of more than 1,800 programs nationwide.”

“The match has boosted services for pregnant women, children as young as 6 weeks old, and families experiencing the effects of poverty in our community,” says Children First CEO Philip Tavill in the release. “With these investments in our mission from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation,” he added, “we have officially raised more than three-quarters of our overall goal.”

Tavill then pointed out, “After such a turbulent year, with many of our families still working to overcome pandemic-related challenges in addition to other daily hardships, we could not be more appreciative of this critical support from our community.”

To make a gift that will be matched through The Challenge for Changing Lives, a person may visit

Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, as well as nutrition and health care assistance, to children from birth to the age of 5 who live in low-income families, the release explains. “Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school” with the same level of preparation as youngsters in families with higher income levels, the release notes.

For more information, call 941-953-3877 or go to