SARASOTA, FL, – October 30, 2023 – The Junior League of Sarasota (JLS) awarded eight grants to local non-profit organizations totaling $31,000 in October 2023.
After a community-wide solicitation for proposals, a total of 48 applicants were considered during the rigorous grant selection process. All projects were selected based on alignment with the Junior League of Sarasota’s mission, and committee members scored applicants based on four core categories: children, women, families, and young adults aging out of foster care. Five diverse organizations were approved by the JLS Board of Directors after the committee selection process.
The following recipients were selected:
- Sisters Sowing Seeds $10,000 – Sisters in Schools is a youth development program offered after school to middle school girls in Sarasota County. Designed to address and combat potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the Sisters in Schools program implements all five strategies provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aimed at preventing and minimizing the impacts of ACEs. The program establishes responsive relationships to buffer children from the effects of stress, provides curriculum support to build core life skills, and facilitates activities to strengthen the building blocks of resilience. Sisters in Schools equips participants with life skills, empowers them with self-esteem-building strategies, encourages self-accountability, and promotes the importance of self-care. The JLS grant will supply vital financial support that will allow the program to continue to encourage all young women in their care to re-evaluate the way they see themselves and how they engage with others by sowing positive seeds.
- Embracing Our Differences $8,500 – As an arts and education nonprofit, Embracing Our Differences (EOD) implements year-round education initiatives that impact the lives of thousands of students and educators. Their Coexistence Clubs are student-driven service organizations that have a goal of building safer and more inclusive spaces in schools and the local community as well as encouraging the development of leadership skills. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor, middle and high school club members work toward making EOD’s vision of creating a world that embraces diversity, respects differences, and actively rejects hatred and prejudice a reality. During the 2022 – 2023 school year, EOD maintained active Coexistence Clubs at 11 local middle and high schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties with a total of 214 club members. Faculty advisors are surveyed on an annual basis in order to track the impact of the clubs and often share feedback like the following, “Students made connections and became friends with other students they probably would not have been friends with. It gave them a sense of belonging, they felt accepted and like they were doing something worthwhile…Most importantly, they learned the true meaning of kindness.” The JLS grant will bolster EOD education initiatives like Coexistence Club funding into the coming year.
- Easterseals Southwest Florida $5,000 – Also known as Happiness House, Easterseals has been a part of the Sarasota-Manatee community since 1946. Easterseals is committed to remaining a leader in special needs services and strives to provide the highest quality of care to children, youth, and adults. The Easterseals institution provides instruction and caregiving support to 90 preschoolers and nearly 80 adult and teen individuals on a daily basis. An active shooter alert close to campus earlier this year highlighted the imperative need for a security audit, and the leadership team consulted with safety experts to devise a plan for future emergency alerts. The JLS grant will support this campus-wide security initiative, providing funding for an updated communication system, safety bags, walkie-talkies, and the installation of a control access badge system, updated locks, and window shades.
- School Attendance Support $5,000 – Dedicated to identifying and working to eliminate barriers to school attendance, School Attendance Support (SAS) attempts to minimize absentee rates in the area by providing basic necessities that many school-age children find themselves without. Established in 2021, SAS strives to make education equitable for all by addressing poverty as a significant barrier to opportunities and attendance. In addition to providing hygiene necessities (e.g. laundry detergent, shampoo, antiperspirant, lice kits, clothing, and snacks), SAS also provides special request items that individual schools identify as barriers to attendance. The JLS grant will allow SAS to continue its mission work of enhancing lives by providing these basic necessities in order to improve average daily attendance and decrease chronic absenteeism of low-income students.
- The Twig Cares $2,500 – Since 2016, The Twig has been serving the foster care community and leading others to do the same. In keeping with their mission, “to inspire and encourage foster families by meeting their needs,” Twig Connects strives to support young adults ages 15-23 who are on the cusp of foster care by hosting monthly educational gatherings that include a warm meal, camaraderie, and presentations on important life skills. Areas of instruction revolve around the 14 topics of the Daniel Memorial Assessment (DMA), including money management, health, job maintenance skills, and interpersonal skills, among others. Through participation in the meetings, attendees are eligible to shop in The Twig clothing boutique free of charge afterward. The awarded JLS grant will be used to support their fall educational series.
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.