(SARASOTA, FL) — Children First, Sarasota County’s exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start programs, announces a $1 million gift from Dr. Elaine Marieb that will help the local nonprofit provide quality early childhood education and support services to more than 600 low-income children and their families living in our community. It is the largest individual gift in Children First’s 55-year history.
“I have been given some incredible opportunities in my life,” said Dr. Marieb about her gift. “And that is just what Children First does every day for the most vulnerable members of our community. They provide the tools and resources families need in order to escape poverty and build a better life. Nothing could be more important, or more valuable, than that.”
The gift was announced during a special ceremony and ribbon-cutting event held at Children First’s main campus, which is located at 1723 N. Orange Ave. As part of the event, Children First named the campus and its buildings the Dr. Elaine Marieb Early Learning Center. The campus is one of 13 sites maintained by Children First throughout Sarasota County. Dozens of people, including board members, administration, teachers, staff, parents and members of the local community, attended the event, which featured speeches by Children First president Philip Tavill and board chair Brock H. Leach, as well as songs performed by preschoolers attending Children First.
Dr. Marieb, who is a Sarasota resident, is a noted scholar and the internationally acclaimed author of more than a dozen textbooks on anatomy and physiology currently used by more than 1,000 colleges and universities worldwide. She is also the founder of the “Elaine’s Kids” program at Children First, which each summer provides enriched instruction in reading, language and math, as well as nutrition and healthcare support, to help low-income, preschool-age children in Sarasota County avoid summer learning loss and better prepare for kindergarten. Many of the children served by “Elaine’s Kids” come from families where English is not their native language.
Her current gift will allow Children First not only to expand its efforts to combat summer learning loss through programs like “Elaine’s Kids,” but to bolster the services it offers to more than 600 children and families year round as well. Those services include early childhood education, nutrition, and healthcare support for kids ages birth to 5 years old, as well as parenting skills, career development and budgeting classes for their families.
“We are so appreciative to Elaine for everything she has done for our children and families over the years,” said Children First president and CEO Philip Tavill. “Her support has opened the doors of hope and possibility for thousands of disadvantaged children and their families living in Sarasota County. Thanks to her current gift, that impact will continue to be felt for generations to come.”
- Dr. Elaine Marieb cuts the ribbon to rename Children First’s main campus the Dr. Elaine Marieb Early Learning Center
- Dr. Marieb with Children First President and CEO Philip Tavill and Board Chair Brock Leach