FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 8, 2014) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation announces that 12 nonprofit agencies in the region have been awarded $350,000 in funding. These grant awards are the first of the Foundation’s newly-enhanced grants process designed to simplify the granting process for the nonprofits, and to include more potential collaborations and additional funders for projects.

The Foundation currently administers more than 350 endowed funds that were created through the generosity of local donors who planned for the future through establishing an endowed fund at the SWFLCF. Through the power of endowment, the funds are invested and a portion is granted annually by the Foundation honoring the donors’ guidelines.

With a focus on creating meaningful change and affecting issues in Southwest Florida, the SWFLCF works closely with nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders such as business, education, government, and end-users of services to efficiently and effectively fund nonprofit partners.

A few of the ways the recipient nonprofits are using the grants to strengthen our region include helping abused women with immigration services, providing assistance for unemployed women, providing therapeutic programs for special needs students and adults living with Alzheimers, facilitating music appreciation to underserved students, opening economic develop opportunities to adults with special needs, offering vision services for small children and enhancing services for animal treatment.

The agencies receiving funds include: Amigos en Cristo, Inc., Hendry County Library System, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Naples Botanical Garden, Grace Community Center, Children’s Home Society of Florida, Lighthouse of SWFL, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Gulf Coast Symphony and the Quality of Life Center.

The newly revised grants process invites nonprofits in the region to submit a preview of their big idea. The Foundation received 85 submissions, and 24 were invited to pitch their idea at the first “compassionate shark tank,” attended by donors and funders in addition to the grants-review committee.  The nonprofits selected were then required to provide a more detailed letter of idea and budget.

“This is the first time we have had funders who either have a donor advised fund with the Community Foundation, or their own private foundation, sitting with us to actively fund projects,” said Chief Strategic Officer Dave Fleming. “Because a few of these funders have joined us, we can more fully fund the nonprofits’ requests of us and thus be more effective by working together.”

Another important part of the funding includes the Foundation’s endeavor aimed at strengthening nonprofits across the region by providing ongoing collaboration and group meetings of the grantees, coined as “tribes” based their common mission to bring regional change for common good.

“We want to walk alongside the organizations, be a resource and connect them with other opportunities,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.

Here are a few comments from grant recipients:

“The SWFLCF grant enabled the Exceptional Entrepreneur program to begin a job training program serving more than 60 special-needs individuals in our community by hiring a professional program coordinator, enhancing our Lee County School Partnership and employing three special-needs individuals. The Foundation’s continued support will enable us to increase the employability as well as raise awareness and impact self-worth of special-needs individuals in our community,” said Patti Nemazie, director of Reach and Send Ministries at Cape Coral Campus and Grace Community Center.

“Our therapeutic horticulture programs connect people with plants in a deeply profound way. Whether it is a class field trip or pre-vocational program for students with special needs, or a sensory program for adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, the Garden provides an extraordinary setting for transformative programs that improve quality of life through learning, growing and healing,” said Chad Washburn, director of conservation and education at Naples Botanical Garden.

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, founded in 1976, has more than $80 million in assets, and has provided more than $60 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.

For more information about the SWFLCF, call 239-274-5900 or visit