Community Foundation’s message to the community

Dear Friends,

As we come to the end of another eventful week, I want to thank you for the support I received after last week’s letter. I am deeply touched that you took the time to reach out and value all of your comments and suggestions. I want to assure you that the Community Foundation will indeed stand by our commitment to be engaged and part of the discussion to promote equity and social justice. In the upcoming weeks, we will be working with local Black leaders who will head a community conversation and discuss the role the Community Foundation can play. Our goal is that this not be a moment — but a movement.

I am excited to tell you that after years of hard work, the collaboration between CFCC, the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, and Moorings Park Foundation to provide much-needed affordable housing on the site of the old Golden Gate golf course has finally been approved! 350-400 brand new apartments will house essential workers such as first responders and teachers, along with housing for veterans and senior citizens with rents not exceeding 30% of income. Watch the WINK News report from the Collier County Commissioners meeting about this much-anticipated project.

Thanks to this public/private partnership,and the donation of 30 acres of land by Collier County government, this innovative project will be a reality. Joining our efforts is Rural Neighborhoods, the approved nonprofit land developer. While the project will take a few years to complete, it shines a ray of hope for those who teach our children, protect our lives and property, and provide other essential services in Collier County but can’t afford to live here. For all they do for us, we owe them, and our seniors and veterans, a decent place to live that they can afford.

I am also happy to report that the Collier Comes Together Fund is still going strong and enabling great work in our community. We were proud to have our coronavirus relief efforts featured this week in the Business Observer, along with our philanthropic partners at other Southwest Florida community foundations. So far, we have received almost $1.5 million in donations. Of that, over $810,000, along with an additional $215,000 granted directly from Community Foundation Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), has been distributed so far. Recent grants include $20,000 to NAACP of Collier County for emergency assistance for COVID-19 relief to the River Park community. In addition, gift cards were distributed to The Shelter for Abused Women & Children, the Guadalupe Center and NAACP to assist with basic needs such as food and housing.

We are committed to helping our nonprofits survive during this economically challenging time and have modified our grant making process to focus on unrestricted operational grants. We know our local nonprofits who do vital work in our community are reeling from lost income from events and donations, so our new grant process will help keep them afloat. We anticipate over $850,000 in grants will be awarded in late July thanks in part to Collier Comes Together funds, Angel Fund Grants, and DAFs, whose donors want to help us fund more grant requests. Thank you to all who are making these organization-saving grants possible!

Finally, we have not forgotten about those affected by the Golden Gate fires. A $20,000 grant was given to Salvation Army of Naples last week to assist those individuals and families displaced or impacted by the Golden Gate Estates wildfires that ravaged about 9,000 acres and affected or destroyed almost 20 single-family and mobile homes. Like us, 100% of funds donated to the Salvation Army are distributed without any administrative fees. Thanks to your donations, these families are receiving basic needs assistance, including housing, clothing, and food.

I am so grateful for the philanthropic partnerships that allow us to make lasting, meaningful change. Great things do, indeed, happen when a community comes together.

With gratitude,

Eileen Connolly-Keesler  CFCC President and CEO



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