The essence: Recently approved grants from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation will address areas such as hunger and food insecurity, support affordable housing opportunities, and promote projects that enhance diversity, equity, and civil rights in the region.
Addressing Food Insecurity for Children
- Our investment: A $2,500,000 million grant to All Faiths Food Bank to expand food insecurity screening programs in Sarasota and DeSoto counties.
- Why it matters: Health care providers are an essential first line of defense to combat child hunger. All Faiths currently works with 10 health care providers to screen children and families for food insecurity, and these funds will help them expand this work.
Removing Barriers to Social Services
- Our investment: A $546,220 grant to Mothers Helping Mothers to build a suite of wrap-around services at the organization’s Sarasota drop-in center. Funding for this initiative will remove barriers to their services, such as program costs, limited transportation options, and lack of childcare.
- Why it matters: Time, or lack of it, is a common and overwhelming challenge for families living on the economic edge. Many have tenuous transportation that requires them to spend long travel times on bus routes or have unreliable transportation, which causes them to miss work, appointments, and other opportunities. This funding will help deliver more human services at a single location, removing the burden of having to visit multiple locations for assistance.
Supporting Housing First Models
- Our investment: A $300,000 grant to Second Heart Homes to purchase additional homes to help address homelessness.
- Why it matters: The Housing First approach to ending homelessness, grounded in the underlying principle that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed, has helped many overcome homelessness and has proven to deliver effective mental health and addiction recovery outcomes.
Keeping Teachers in the Classroom
- Our investment: A $300,000 grant to support Barancik Foundation’s Teacher Retention|Recruitment initiative.
- Context: Barancik Foundation launched the Teacher R|R Initiative in 2017 to examine issues affecting teacher recruitment and retention. These efforts have helped support the development of a new local teacher pipeline while also focusing on existing teachers’ wellness and professional development.
Expanding Capacity to Enhance Community Arts Impact
- Our investment: A $300,000 grant to the Hermitage Artist Retreat to help the organization grow its capacity to deliver programming focused on community impact, education, and social justice.
- Context: The Hermitage continues to keep its programs free and accessible to all members of our community, reaffirming its commitment to being one of the most inclusive arts organizations in the nation.
Preventing Homelessness with Flexible Funding
- Our investment: A $250,000 grant to Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness to establish a flexible housing fund.
- What’s happening: The grant will allow the organization to bridge the gap when lease renewals become financially unattainable for residents when all other available funds and support in the community have been exhausted.
Building Affordable Housing Opportunities
- Our investment: A $250,000 grant to Community Assisted & Supported Living (CASL) to build and operate affordable rental units.
- Why it matters: CASL is partnering with Gracewater and Blue Sky Communities to develop land in Sarasota County that will provide about 370 affordable rental units (80 in the first phase) and add access to amenities such as a clinic and a grocery store. Additional funding will come via Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and the Florida Housing Finance Corp.
Providing Programming to Address Important Community Issues
- Our investment: A $250,000 grant to WEDU PBS to boost local programming that focuses on diversity, equity, community wellness, attainable housing, and civil rights.
- What’s happening: This funding will act as seed money toward producing local issue-focused programs and help leverage other philanthropic support. WEDU’s ability to expand and meet the needs and interests of the growing populations of Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties is anticipated to result in heightened awareness of the issues affecting our communities.
Creating Health Equity
- Our investment: A $150,000 investment into collaborative, community efforts to combat diabetes and obesity in underserved communities and create a five-year health equity plan in Sarasota County.
- Why it matters: There are substantial health disparities between people of color and their white counterparts because of structural racism and a series of societal failings. For example, African American adults are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than their white counterparts. They also are twice as likely to die from complications related to the disease.
Supporting People with Vision Loss and Their Families
- Our investment: A $132,141 grant to Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center to support capacity expansion to better serve blind and visually impaired individuals.
- Why it matters: Strong support from family is crucial for an individual experiencing vision loss. When the family understands what their loved one is going through, it is much easier to be supportive. The Lighthouse will be a resource for families of loved ones struggling with the diagnosis and be a place for support and hope.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Students
- Our investment: A $130,000 grant to ALSO Youth to assist the organization in relocating their Manatee County service center.
- Context: The housing and office space market is not only putting a strain on residents and businesses but also nonprofit organizations. The grant will help them relocate to a new space that allows for a visible and continued presence in Manatee County.
Supporting College Transfer Students
- Our investment: A $103,341 grant to New College Foundation to improve equity by helping area students aspire to and attain a bachelor’s degree.
- What’s happening: Funds will be used to continue Barancik Foundation’s efforts at New College to provide in-person and online college essay writing workshops, ease transfer students’ transition to the campus, and provide targeted advising to first-time college students.
Building Connections Between Young Professionals of Color and the Community
- Our investment: A $100,000 grant to Emerge Sarasota to improve the relationship between our community at large and Black and Indigenous young professionals.
- What’s happening: Emerge has three programs through which they help educate, support, uplift, and shine a light on talented young professionals of color in the region — health and wellness, arts and culture, and professional development. These funds will help the emerging organization expand its capacity.
Easing Economic Strains
- Our investment: A $100,000 grant to purchase gas cards for clients of human service agencies.
- What’s happening: We all know rising inflation and gas prices are putting a strain on those that help those most in need in our community. These funds will be used to purchase gas cards that will be distributed to clients of partner agencies that provide assistance in our community.
Addressing the Needs of Foster Children
- Our investment: A $100,000 grant to The Children’s Guardian Fund to provide unrestricted funding to help respond to children’s immediate and ongoing needs when they are removed from abusive or neglectful homes.
- Why it matters: Too many children removed from chaotic environments may have never had a birthday cake, a book, or even the calm, undivided attention of an adult in their lives. This grant will help fulfill the range of basic and more profound needs of children in foster care.
Expanding the Healthy Ponds Initiative
- Our investment: A $100,000 grant to Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) to improve the quality of our waterways by emphasizing the reduction and flow of excess nutrients out of our ponds.
- Context: In 2021, Barancik Foundation partnered with START to launch a new collaborative aimed at helping more neighborhoods upgrade their ponds, more effectively remove red-tide causing nutrients, and cost-share the improvements. Building on the successful pilot program, these funds will help the organization expand its efforts into Manatee County in partnership with the county government.
Investing in Local Arts Teachers
- Our investment: A $100,000 grant to Sarasota County Schools to create engaging Professional Learning opportunities for K-12 art teachers.
- What we learned: An increasing number of prospective art teachers come to our district with little or no educational experience or formal training. The grant will help the Sarasota School District deliver rich art and music-based professional development for teachers.
Supporting Blind Children and Teens
- Our investment: A $75,000 grant to Southeastern Guide Dogs to support its Children & Teens Program.
- Context: In 2019, with Barancik Foundation support, the organization lowered its age limit and expanded its children and teens guide dog program, making it available for teens ages 14-17. SGD is the only guide school in the country that offers guide dogs to teenagers as young as 14. For a child, losing sight can have lifelong effects, putting them at risk for failing in school, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Increasing Mentorship Opportunities for At-risk Youth
- Our investment: A $60,000 grant to Gulf Coast Sports Group to support the “A Lions Reach” Youth Mentoring Counselor/Ambassador Program.
- What’s happening: The organization is comprised of current and former sports professionals who provide mentoring opportunities and student internships to underserved students in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Programs include not only on-the-court experiences but also related support functions like video production, sports management, and other sports-related jobs.
An additional $500,000 was awarded to support programs and projects with partner organizations.