Gulf Coast Community Foundation board approves final 2023 fiscal year grants

More than $1.5 million going to a variety of initiatives

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s board of directors recently approved more than $1.5 million in grant awards, the final group for this fiscal year, the nonprofit has announced.

“The funding includes grants supported by legacy donors who established funds that allow Gulf Coast to fulfill the donors’ philanthropic goals and support the causes most important to them in perpetuity,” a news release points out.

Altogether, the board has approved almost $40 million in grants to its nonprofit partners this fiscal year, new President and CEO Phillip Lanham pointed out in the release.

The grants “were made to support instrumental community projects and causes,” the release adds. They are as follows:

  • $440,000 to support Venice Theatre and to rebuild the Jervey Theatre destroyed by Hurricane Ian. “Venice Theatre attracts thousands of visitors each year, generating revenue for local businesses and restaurants, and providing job and educational opportunities,” the release notes. Per capita, the release adds, Venice Theatre is the largest community theater in the United States. It “is a vital part of the cultural, educational, and economic landscape of Sarasota County.” Supported by Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund, this grant brings the foundation’s total in awards to Venice Theatre since last year to more than $600,000, “to help in this critical rebuilding project.”
  • $150,000 to the Bay Park Conservancy to support the operations, maintenance and care of key features at The Bay Park in downtown Sarasota, so “future generations [may] enjoy this blue and green oasis,” the release says. Gulf Coast has invested more than $1.2 million into The Bay “to ensure it remains a thriving and sustainable community asset for years to come,” the release adds. Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the Katherine Naismith Witten Fund have provided the grant support.
  • $50,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast to support year-one staffing of its expanded Mentoring Center. With room for 100 people, the center will be a transformative space” that will increase the organization’s reach from 1,500 to 2,000 youth, along with their families and members of the community, the release explains. This funding support comes from the Gould Family Trust Foundation and Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund.
  • $340,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto counties for the second installment of Gulf Coast’s $1-million commitment to support the rebuilding of the Gene Matthews Club in North Port, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. The new club will provide services to 575 members annually — approximately 300 youth in the summer and more than 250 during the school year, the release points out. This effort is supported by Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the Gould Family Trust Foundation.
  • $50,000 to the Education Foundation of Sarasota County to support at-risk students, providing resources to enable them to graduate “and to create seamless pathways for [them] to move into higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs,” the release says. This grant also will enable the Education Foundation to hire a part-time collaboration coordinator to assist the director of PLANit Sarasota in engaging with more than 40 partners. This funding comes from Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund, the Odile Robertson Field of Interest Fund and the Arthur E. and Audre B. Smith Charitable Fund.
  • $18,000 to the Ringling College Library Association to support and sponsor the 2024 Town Hall Lecture Series, “which brings influencers from the world stage to Sarasota, with a goal to expand horizons, stimulate conversation, and inspire the community,” the release notes. This effort is supported by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation Fund and the Joseph A. Schasney and Marion W. Schasney Endowment.
  • $125,000 to the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce “to continue support for the regional workforce development program, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative,” the release says. Since the program’s establishment in 2010 as Gulf Coast’s “nationally acclaimed workforce and business innovation initiative,” the release points out, Gulf Coast has given more than $1.7 million to it. Support for this $125,000 grant comes from Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the A. Hamilton and Edith T. Gardner Fund.
  • $75,000 to the State College of Florida Foundation. “The grant will provide instructional equipment for nursing students and aspiring nursing students to continue to address the critical shortage of registered nurses in Southwest Florida,” the release explains. This effort is supported by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation Fund, Gulf Coast’s Venice Endowment Fund and the Ed and Barbara Strobel Fund.
  • $710,000 in the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Arts Appreciation Grants for “13 cornerstone arts organizations in our region to bring world-class talent and beauty to Florida’s Cultural Coast. Those grantees are Asolo Repertory Theatre, Sarasota Ballet, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Orchestra, Ringling Museum, Venice Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Embracing Our Differences, Circus Arts Conservatory, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Venice Symphony, and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.