by Catherine Bergerson, Director Communications and Marketing, Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The Community Foundation of Collier County, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University and Conservancy of Southwest Florida have formalized a three-year partnership to align community resources in an effort to address issues related to our region’s changing climate.
The founding group, Growing Climate Solutions –Path to Positive Southwest Florida, will work to build a coalition of residents across key community areas including health, education, faith, business and the environment.
The goal is to work together through educational and awareness building efforts and to provide research and information that will lead to local climate solutions to sustain our communities.
The collaborative effort will help businesses and the community connect climate change impacts to quality of life.
“The partnership is an outgrowth of the climate change survey results released in February,” said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County. “The results were very clear. Southwest Florida residents believe now is the time to take action on this issue.”
The recent survey also found that attitudes are changing, and most Southwest Florida residents are concerned about the changing climate and believe action is necessary to protect the region’s future.
“Growing Climate Solutions will work to make climate impacts local and relevant,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “It is critically important to get in front of these concerns and to build new constituencies who will feel more personally connected to the issue, and empowered to act.”
The coalition has hired a regional director to oversee the program, Ana Puszkin-Chevlin, Ph.D. As Regional Director, Puszkin-Chevlin will oversee climate education and outreach efforts to accomplish the partnership’s four primary goals: empower community members and leaders to initiate change, ensure a prosperous and healthy community, build climate literacy and protect natural assets.
“Southwest Florida has experienced multiple impacts from our changing climate, including more intense hurricanes, flooding and worsening water quality problems,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “We are committed to bringing our organization’s 55 year history of working with the community to find common sense, science-based solutions to address the emerging issues related to our changing climate.”
Since February $840,000 in philanthropic support has been donated toward a fundraising goal of $1.2 million.
The coalition is partnering with ecoAmerica, a national climate leadership organization, to serve in an advisory role and help the coalition build education and outreach programs. Leadership support for this project is thanks to The Kapnick Foundation.
For information, visit growingclimatesolutions.com.