FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2014) – During the 2014 fall luncheon of the Women’s Legacy Fund, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, $30,000 will be presented to Literacy Council Gulf Coast for its Helping Women Thrive Through Literacy program.

The luncheon will take place on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Clubhouse.

Literacy was selected by the Fund’s contributors to be this year’s area of focus. The $30,000 grant will focus on helping women to improve literacy skills, focusing on reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. It will also assist women in improving their financial literacy knowledge by offering topics in basic financial literacy incorporated into typical classes, expand GED preparedness classes to help women advance to higher educational levels thus increasing their economic empowerment and independence, and offer regular informative sessions educating women on domestic violence and human trafficking issues to help break the cycle of abuse.

“It’s always hard to choose because there is so much need, but literacy is the starting point to help women improve their lives,” said Karen Benson, local business owner, WLF contributor and committee chair on how the funding decision was made. “Unless a woman can read and write, she can’t understand where to find help if she’s in a domestic abuse situation or fill out an application for a job to help her achieve financial independence and more.”

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 five 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 women. The strength of women working together toward causes like this proves that we are doing more together than we could ever do alone.”

Liza McFadden, president and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, will be the lunch’s keynote speaker. 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.

The luncheon will also include the Angel presentations. 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 endowment 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 39th 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 $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.

The WLF fall luncheon is open to the public, but seating is limited. Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Clubhouse is located at 18520 Miromar Lakes Boulevard 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.