During the Junior League of Sarasota’s October General Membership Meeting, the group gave $40,000 in grant funds to eight local organizations. After a community-wide solicitation for proposals this past summer, the JLS Community Grants Committee received 70 grant proposals, so the field was highly competitive.
Each application was carefully and critically reviewed under a rigorous multilevel review from the committee. A five-point rubric of six criteria was used to assess the organization’s and project’s alignment with the JLS mission. Focus was placed on priority categories of women, children, families, and hunger. Then all proposals were evaluated and scored by multiple reviewers.
Photo by Kerri Gagne Photography
The top third scoring proposals from the initial quantitative analysis were then evaluated from a qualitative perspective. From this multi-faceted and rigorous evaluation process, the committee selected eight very diverse but equally worthy organizations, which were then approved by the JLS Board of Directors.
The following recipients were selected:
- The Florida Center for Early Childhood: $4,000 for Expanding Abilities Through Outdoor Play
The mission of The Florida Center for Early Childhood is to help build and foster strong families and expand the potential of young children. The grant will support children with developmental disabilities who attend the organization’s Starfish Academy Preschool or receive out-patient therapy. This request will impact approximately 500 children under age nine who receive services at the agency’s Sarasota and North Port locations. The funds will be used to improve the outdoor play environment through the purchase of equipment specially selected for children with developmental delays and/or disabilities.
- Florida Studio Theatre: $4,000 for Extended Residency Workshops at Emma E. Booker Elementary School
FST wants to make theatre affordable and accessible to as many people as possible by creating a public forum for the issues of our day that will foster positive change in our community. This program will allow children to participate in workshops, perform in a program and perform on a tour in schools throughout Sarasota County. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, FST’s program is where the street meets the elite, where everyone is welcome to come and engage in the art of theatre.
- Selah Freedom: $8,000 for Human Trafficking Prevention in Sarasota
This grant will facilitate at least ten group sessions over a five month period consisting of a variety of prevention workshops including: Freedom for Teens engages students as they learn what sex trafficking is, how recruitment happens, risk factors, warning signs and how to protect themselves. Freedom for Kids engages young students as they learn about sexual abuse with age-appropriate curriculum, including information on safe touch, safe adults, identifying secrets vs. surprises, and how to protect themselves by seeking support from safe adults. Caught Up targets at-risk youth and utilizes video clips and discussion to take the audience on the journey of a young girl being recruited from a group home, while revealing the dark truth about realities of being sex tracked. Sex, Lies, and Media is an online safety training that educates the audience on the tactics of sexual predators and how they use media to lure and exploit victims.Topics discussed are how media and pornography shape our views of sexuality and healthy relationships, risk factors and red flags of abuse, and offers tips for added online safety.
- Healthy Teens: $3,000 for Teen Health Educators In Newtown Program
Grant funds will allow Healthy Teens to expand its premier project, the Teen Health Educator Program, to Newtown in Sarasota. A select group of 25 youth leaders will be trained and empowered to deliver critical health information in a relatable, relevant and medically accurate format. They provide education/prevention information to highly vulnerable youth, such as homeless/shelter teens, migrant farmworker youth, and other minority teen populations in order to reduce high risk behaviors, including dating violence, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted illnesses.
- Guardian Angels of SW FL, INC.: $10,000 for Foster Family Home Improvement and Upgrade
Since 2013 this foster home has been home to over 75 children, and has experienced a great deal of wear and tear due to the large number of children residing there over time. The original carpets in the six bedrooms are stained, worn, unsanitary and in dire need of being replaced. The luxury vinyl flooring they are using in their newer foster family homes will prove to be more cost effective, efficient and easier to maintain and clean. This vinyl flooring will also benefit any children suffering from allergies.
- Mental Health Community Centers: $1,000 for Kitchen Overhaul Project
This grant will update three community centers with newer kitchen equipment used for cooking and meal preparation. The updates will provide opportunities to MHCCI’s Wellness Centers members to provide opportunities for recovery for members to learn new skills, and practice them in a safe and sanitary environment. They can apply these skills to their self-directed recovery of managing severe and/or persistent mental illness symptoms, and increase their quality of life by remaining stable in their homes and reducing hospitalizations and crises.
- Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida: $5,000 for Camp Honi Hanta Improvements
The overall project contains three components: the creation of a disc golf course, the replacement of the ice maker in the camp’s main lodge, and the purchase and installation of a shade structure at the archery range. Archery is a time-honored tradition in Girl Scouting, and one of the most popular activities at Camp Honi Hanta. The installation of a 10’X30′ cantilevered shade structure over the shooting line and waiting area will provide much-needed protection from the sun’s heat and UV rays. Currently, there is no shade available to those utilizing the archery range. GSGCF is graciously installing a beautiful plaque at the structure to honor JLS.
- The Sarasota Ballet: $5,000 for Dance – The Next Generation Project (DNG)
DNG is a no-cost, transformational ten-year after-school program for low-income, at-risk students. The objectives are: 1) introduce children to the life skills & self-discipline inherent in the study of dance, enabling them to achieve academic and personal goals; 2) foster artistic sensitivity and social interaction, leading to self-confidence and the ability to relate to the world with awareness, tolerance and understanding; and 3) ensure students graduate from high school. One hundred percent of students who graduate from DNG graduate from high school. This grant will provide healthy and nutritious snacks to participants in this program.
The Junior League of Sarasota is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. In 2017, the League celebrates 60 years of service in Sarasota.