Milestone $2.5 million endowment gift by local philanthropists
David and Linda Lucas inspires new fund
FORT MYERS, Fla. (November 1, 2017) – The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees along with David and Linda Lucas announced a major funding milestone this morning, just steps from the nonprofit’s future Collaboratory and Tech Hub and the Foundation’s headquarters in downtown Fort Myers.
The new $5 million Southwest Florida Community Foundation Collaboratory and Tech Hub Fund
was made possible by the Lucas’ gifting the Foundation $2.5 million and inspiring 83 other generous supporters to join in raising the additional $2.5 million match.
“David and Linda are no strangers to great causes and they have been involved in many transformational contributions to our community but this is a first-ever milestone endowment for the Foundation by living donors,” said Larry Hobbs, MD, chair of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Our ability to serve the community has just been greatly enhanced and we cannot thank the Lucas’ and our fellow donors enough for seeking ways to make an impact they can be part of now.”
The $5 million fund will be used for the Foundation’s work in their new space in the historic Atlantic Coast Railway Depot in downtown Fort Myers.
“This gift is important because it is not for the building but for the work that will happen inside,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “Nonprofits will have access to technology, data and expertise that will enhance their important, change-making work. The community will also have space to work, explore challenges and solve problems together and for special events and gatherings.”
According to Owen, endowment gifts are designed to last forever and offer the community sustainable dollars now and for generations to come. She said the current renovation of the train depot and the additional expansion is designed to foster collaboration, community convening and philanthropic work involving all sectors of the community.
A public-private partnership of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the City of Fort Myers is currently transforming the Atlantic Coast Railway station and construction of a 15,000-square-foot LEED addition to create a campus that includes the Foundation’s second regional headquarters and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants.
When complete in summer 2018, the Collaboratory will feature vibrant spaces for work, gatherings and special events. In addition, plans include state-of-the-art technology that encourages regional collaboration.
The Community Foundation is funding the project with a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal, or NMTC, a program that encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods. Florida Community Loan Fund provided the NMTC allocation and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is an investor on the project. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.
The Atlantic Coast Line railway station was presented to the city on Feb. 4, 1924, the same year Fort Myers was poised to join the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. In the face of shrinking revenues, the Seaboard Coast Line (which had merged with ACL) sold its track, discontinued all passenger service into Fort Myers and closed the station in 1971. After sitting empty for a decade, the Southwest Florida Museum of History opened on the site in 1982. In 2015, the museum merged with the Imaginarium Science Center and recently moved physically to the Imaginarium’s site at Cranford Ave.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $111 million, it has provided more than $69 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.