FORT MYERS, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2014) – Liza McFadden, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, will be the keynote speaker at the fall luncheon of the Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Clubhouse. The luncheon will feature the WLF grant and Angels presentation. The event is for contributors to the fund, WLF Prima Donors and women who are interested in making a difference in their community.

The WLF is a group of women who foster the immersion of women in philanthropy and develop the region’s next philanthropic leaders.

McFadden, Bush Foundation president since 2011, is known as a leader with an entrepreneurial mind, who has more than 20 years of success in designing strategy to achieve vision. Her stalwart resolve to eradicate illiteracy includes her overriding focus in transitioning the Barbara Bush Foundation from a donor-advised fund to a public charity, committed to engaging the public in understanding societal impacts of low literacy. While she has been a predominant voice at the center of the national literacy movement, she also has led other efforts on behalf of families and communities. She is well known for leveraging private funds and volunteers to help solve disquieting public policy gaps, such as finding post-hurricane recovery solutions and addressing the lack of educational opportunities for residents – from the youngest to the oldest. In June 2014, she was named the inaugural recipient of the Women Who Mean Business Service Award in her hometown of Tallahassee, Florida.

The luncheon will also include an announcement on local literacy agencies receiving this year’s WLF grant focus funds. This issue was selected by the Fund’s contributors to be this year’s area of focus.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the United States are illiterate, 21 percent of adults read below a fifth-grade level, and roughly 20 percent of Floridians are illiterate or lack basic reading skills. In Southwest Florida, 13.2 percent of women lack a high-school diploma and 5 percent of women have less than a ninth-grade education.

“We all realize there are many issues facing our region, and sometimes deciding where to put our efforts to affect change can be challenging,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the SWFLCF. “This year’s WLF focus area has the potential to change the lives of many Southwest Florida students. We are doing more together than we could ever do alone.”

According to Owen, through the WLF’s collective contributions and the endowed fund, the foundation will be able to distribute $30,000 in grants to local agencies that are developing innovative programs to impact literacy, the chosen cause this year.

The Angel honorary designation is for mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, grandchildren, friends, loved ones and community leaders, either living or deceased, who have had a special impact on the lives of those around them. WLF members can make the special women in their lives a WLF Angel with a minimum contribution of $1,000 in their name.

In just five years of existence, the WLF has been able to provide $90,000 in grants to benefit people and communities in Southwest Florida. Currently, the Fund has more than $423,682 in endowed funds that will continue to help fund local issues now and in the future.

Contributors to the WLF give a minimum of $250 each year ($100 for women under 25 years of age). The first half of contributions is pooled for the purpose of immediate annual grants, while the second half is pooled into the WLF’s endowment fund, which provides additional grants to be made both now and in years to come. Prima Donors are local women who have contributed $10,000 or more to the WLF and are committed to making an impact in their community through charitable giving.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation is celebrating its 37th year of connecting donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $80 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $57 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, the Foundation granted more than $4 million to more than 100 different organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, including more than $400,000 in regional community impact grants and $450,000 in scholarship grants.

The WLF fall luncheon is open to the public, but seating is limited. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Clubhouse is located at 18520 Miromar Lakes Blvd. in Fort Myers. The cost is $35 per person, and reservations are required by Oct. 10. To register, visit the Community Foundation’s website at or call 239-274-5900.