PLANit Sarasota receives $100,000, thanks to Gulf Coast Community Foundation and corporate sponsors’ support

Organization is ‘collective effort to invest in students and a strong local workforce’

“Through a unique philanthropic collaboration,” PLANit Sarasota has received $100,000 in grants to promote postsecondary education “with a focus on historically underrepresented students” who rarely go on to earn college degrees or trade diplomas, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation has announced.

These grants were made possible through an initial investment of $50,000 from the Florida Philanthropic Network, with funding from the Helios Education Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, a news release explains. Their support was matched dollar-for-dollar by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and corporate sponsors, the release adds. “Collaboration between nonprofit and for-profit sectors is the power of PLANit Sarasota, a collective effort to invest in students and a strong local workforce,” the release points out.

“PLANit Sarasota consists of dozens of community partners, including our school district, youth-serving organizations, colleges, and funders working together to introduce students to the exciting college and career opportunities in their backyard,” said Jennifer Johnston, director of community leadership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in the release.

Jennifer Vigne, president and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, added in the release, “Since 2018 when The Education Foundation of Sarasota County began serving as the convening organization for PLANit Sarasota, it has been exciting to see cross-sector partners collaborating on both short-term and long-term solutions to multi-dimensional problems in education and career planning. As each stakeholder pools their unique knowledge base to reach for the greater good,” she continued in the release, “they are helping to achieve transformational change in extending outreach and services to all youth and their families throughout Sarasota County.”

Business partners “fueled the success of the matching opportunity,” the release points out. Florida Power & Light Co. and PGT Innovations joined Bank of America (BofA), which provided a $25,000 grant toward the match, the release notes. “For many years, BofA has worked with nonprofit partners, local organizations, and leaders across public and private sectors to help support workforce development and education,” the release adds. “Bank of America shares PLANit’s mission of strengthening Sarasota by providing underserved members of the community access to critical workforce development opportunities,” said Erik Vatter, president of Bank of America Sarasota-Manatee, in the release. “Our partnership will help the next generation reach their full long-term potential and accomplish their educational and career goals.”

PLANit Sarasota will utilize the funds to support Sarasota students in achieving their career and educational goals after high school, the release points out. Offering coaching, digital tools, college application support, and financial aid guidance, “PLANit Sarasota, our community’s Local College Access Network, is critical to the future success of our student population,” the release adds.

“Gulf Coast is proud to partner with the corporate sector, individual donors, and PLANit Sarasota to help students make their dreams come true,” said Johnston of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the release.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County ( is an independent, philanthropic partner with the Sarasota County Schools, the release explains.