Community Foundation of Sarasota County

OVERVIEW: For its grants that can be accessed through unsolicited applications, this funder is most interested in homelessness, poverty, literacy, and education. These grants are limited to the Florida counties of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto.

FUNDING AREAS: Homelessness, poverty, literacy, education

IP TAKE:  Early literacy is a big deal with this funder right now, so offer an idea about improving grade-level reading for students from low-income families.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) is based in Sarasota, Florida, and was founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council. It has assets of over $333 million, more than 1,400 charitable funds, and regularly gives away at least $33 million in grants and scholarships per year. The foundation prioritizes helping at-risk people challenged by affordable housing and homelessness, education and literacy through multi-partner efforts, and a two-generational approach to poverty.

The money available for unsolicited applications derives from CFSC’s immediate impact grants. This funder has a streamlined application process that makes applying straightforward; however, grantmaking focuses only on Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. Groups with active profiles in The Giving Partner, an online database of nonprofit information, can apply for immediate emergency needs online as well.

CFSC also offers EdExploreSRQ grants, for which the foundation has committed $1 million over 10 years to explore solutions for students in low-income communities. This program has a rolling online application process so that teachers may apply for grants of up to $5,000 at any time of the year. The program partners with the Sarasota County School District, Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, and the Patterson Foundation to benefit Sarasota County students. 

CFSC offers free workshops and volunteer consultants to nonprofits. Around 80 to 100 nonprofit staff and board members attend these workshops and training sessions each month. The funder also holds endowment funds for more than 80 local nonprofits. It offers meeting rooms to accommodate between 20 and 100 attendees at three locations as well. The foundation’s assets have been growing steadily in recent years. Current financial information can be viewed here.

For grantseekers, it is recommended to first discuss needs with Patricia Martin, the director of grants and scholarships. Grants are made through donor-advised and field-of-interest funds that address issues like education, arts and culture, and health and human services. However, these funds do not accept unsolicited applications. General questions can be called into the foundation staff at info@cfsarasota.org or (941) 955-3000. The address is 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, Florida, 34237. Keep up with foundation news and events here.

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