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Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc.
1960 Landings Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34231
Phone: (941) 927-0965
Fax: (941) 927-3034

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Party on the Pass is back!

This laid back event is a local favorite, selling out every year. Come relax by the water, enjoy the live music and dancing while raising money for the Education Foundation and Trinity Charities. Stop by the Education Foundation office at the Landings to buy your tickets, or click here to buy online.

Party on the Pass 2015

Your support helped raise over $50,000 in online and offline gifts during the 24 Giving Challenge. With matching funds from both the Patterson Foundation and private donors, that will mean over $85,000 for Texcellence!

Thank you GC15


Texcellence Changes Lives- You Can Too!

Texcellence doesn't just impact students, but the ENTIRE family. Barb Perry (mom of Texcellence intern Huck) shares what impact the internship had on her family, her sons and their future. During his senior year, Huck worked in the Education Foundation's Digital Learning Lab at the Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club in ‪Venice. The Perry-Figlow family is just one of many that Texcellence has helped to change their future forever.

You can change the future for more students like Huck.  Your gift of $25 or more to support Texcellence in the 2015 Giving Challenge will be matched up to $250 by the Patterson Foundation, dollar for dollar by the Nancy and John Harris Fund, and triple the impact of your gift!

MAKE A GIFT Sept.1-2 / Noon to Noon.  Go to, search for Education Foundation and give generously. Or, fill out this pledge form and we will process your donation for you.

JOIN US. See a Digital Learning Lab in action during one of our Open Houses on Sept. 1 from 4-7 pm at the North Port Library or the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex. 

PASS IT ON.  Please share this message with friends and encourage them to join you. You can follow the 30 Days of Texcellence on our Facebook page and see more compelling stories about the impact gifts like yours can make.

 Want to know more? View our Giving Partner Profile and learn more about the impact of all the Education Foundation programs.Education Foundation Makes Progress Bridging the Digital Divide for Sarasota County Students

Yes! I want to participate in the 2015 Giving Challenge

Sarasota, FL – July 30, 2015 – Access to technology resources outside of the classroom is fundamental to every aspect of student success. Florida schools will be required to deliver half of their instruction digitally beginning in the fall of 2015. Students are now also required to take at least one online course in order to graduate high school. More than half of the 42,000 Sarasota County Schools’ students qualify for the National School Lunch Program. The new requirements may pose a challenge as many of these students do not have access at home to computers and resources that foster academic achievement, classroom success, and preparation for 21st century careers.

The Education Foundation’s Texcellence Program has provided computers, training and tech support to more than 29,000 students and families in need since the project was launched in April 2007 through home computer distributions, Digital Learning Labs, and paid student internships. The success of the Texcellence Program can be attributed to strong community partnerships and generous donors who seek to make technology resources available to every student in Sarasota County regardless of socioeconomic status.

Texcellence began with the distribution of refurbished computers to qualified students and their families –those eligible for free or reduced price meals who have internet access at home and complete a digital training class. Recipients receive training for the equipment, software and programs that complements what students use in the classroom.

“Every time I see my son doing homework on his computer, I think of you. You may never realize how valuable the gift of the Texcellence computer really is. It is in a sense priceless. Not only does it help him complete homework on time, it gives him confidence to progress and set his eyes on higher education...” said Yolanda Casillas, mom of home computer recipient.

Derek Worley at Janie's Garden

In 2013, the program evolved to create Digital Learning Labs (DLLs) in partnership with local youth-serving organizations to deliver a highly structured intervention in safe and supportive after-school environments. There are currently 23 DLLs strategically located throughout the County focusing on providing access to technology and resources to low-income, academically at-risk students. The program aims to have a total of 30 DLLs open by early 2016.

Digital Learning Labs are currently located at our community partners’ facilities including Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota County Libraries, Sarasota Housing Authority, YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and more. Phil Hall, Unit Director of Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club and Texcellence partner said “The Digital Learning Lab you (Texcellence) have provided gives our members expanded access to the internet for research and school work. In this digital age it is very important for our youth to be computer literate and the expanded access helps us achieve this.”

Texcellence’s most recent expansion led to the creation of paid student internships. The internships are designed to provide 21st century workforce preparation to under served high-school students who have high potential but limited access to opportunities that many students take for granted. Most students are identified as ideal candidates by their schools’ guidance counselors, are diverse in race and background, and many are participants in college prep programs like Take Stock in Children, College for Every Student and Rotary Futures.

The Texcellence Program tracked the progress of 716 Digital Learning Lab students at 13 labs that were open for the entire duration of the 2014-15 school year. Students showed marked improvements in preliminary year math and reading grades and increased digital literacy skills.

  • 58% of DLL students increased their Math grades an average of +8.4 grade points 
  • 56% of DLL students increased their Reading grades an average of +8.0 grade points
  • 80.5% of Digital Learning Lab students who began “Microsoft” or “Digital Learn” digital literacy curriculum attained certificates of completion.
  • Students participating in Digital Learning Labs increased the number of hours using technology resources (for homework, self-directed learning and scholastic research) by 69.4%.

The Education Foundation is launching the “30 Days of Texcellence” campaign on August 3 to raise awareness about the progress being made to resolve some of the disparities socioeconomically disadvantaged students in Sarasota County face regarding access to technology resources and training. The 30 Days of Texcellence can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter @educationFDN.

The campaign will also promote the Foundation’s participation in the 2015 Giving Challenge that will run for 24 hours beginning at noon on September 1. All proceeds raised by the Education Foundation for the 2015 Giving Challenge will go to support the Texcellence Program.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is made possible by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and The Patterson Foundation with support from the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Education Foundation Elects New Officers and Directors

June 4, 2015 – Taking the gavel from Kimberly Page Walker, new Board Chairman Jason Swift congratulated his predecessor for leading the Education Foundation of Sarasota County through a successful and impactful year at the group’s annual meeting held yesterday at the Field Club in Sarasota.

 Swift, the President of Swift Construction, described his involvement with the Education Foundation as a family affair. Swift’s wife, children, siblings and parents are involved with the Foundation in various capacities. His father, Jon Swift is a past Board Chairman and Board Emeritus. 

Outgoing Chair Kimberly Walker, Incoming Chair Jason Swift, Vice Chair Tom Koski, and Secretary Louis Decongelio

Outgoing Chairman Kimberly Page Walker, Attorney and Shareholder at Williams, Parker, Harrison, Dietz & Getzen, recognized the efforts of fellow board members, employees, and executive director Susan Scott. Walker’s remarks included a thank you to Cheryl Gordon, past Board Chairman and current Board member, for encouraging her to join the Education Foundation’s Board of Directors.

During the past year, the Foundation raised over $1.2 million for classroom grants, technology, student awards, teacher recognition and other programs.  The Foundation awarded $213,265 for 234 classroom grant projects developed by teachers from 41 different public schools in the district.  Its Texcellence Program opened 23 Digital Learning Labs throughout Sarasota County providing training and access to technology to more than 4,400 students and their families during this school year, reaching over 22,000 since the project was launched in April 2007. 

Officers elected to serve with Swift for 2015-2016 were Tom Koski, Vice Chairman; Louis DeCongelio, Secretary; and Tricia Fulton, Treasurer. New members of the Board elected to serve three-year terms were Cathi Bell, Chair of the Education Foundation’s 2015 Evening of Excellence student art competition and community volunteer; Stuart Henderson, Architect at Fawley-Bryant Architects; and Jacquelyn Woods, Realtor at Key Realty and community volunteer. Retiring board members honored for their service were Michael Bryant and Caitlin Williams.

Guest speakers Teacher of the Year Ed Hashey, Student Matthew L. , Incoming chair Jason Swift, Principal Brandon Johnson and retired principal and long time suppoerter Helen Martin

Other special guests speaking at the luncheon were Sarasota County Teacher of the Year Edward Hashey from Wilkinson Elementary School, Classroom Grant program’s Rotary Principal’s Award recipient Brandon Johnson from Lamarque Elementary School, and Texcellence Intern, Sebastian Hernandez, Pine View school graduate and current University of Florida student.  


Education Foundation Launches Classroom Grant Campaign with visit from Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton

$100,000 in Matching Funds for 2015-16 Announced

The Education Foundation welcomed actor/director/education advocate LeVar Burton to Sarasota County to host a Reading Rainbow Assembly for students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School on Friday, May 1st. Burton’s visit will launch the Education Foundation’s Classroom Grant Campaign for the 2015-2016 school year. At the Assembly Mr. Burton shared video clips with the students and read books including his first children’s book The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm.

Levar Burton banner 2

CLICK HERE for more great photos

To kick-off the Classroom Grant Campaign the Education Foundation has secured $100,000 in matching funds inspiring new donors to support the program and encouraging current donors to increase their gift for the 2015-16 grant cycle.  The matching grant is made possible through the generosity of Achieva Credit Union, the Education Foundation Board of Directors, and the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations.

The Education Foundation’s Classroom Grant program has given Sarasota County teachers the opportunity to enhance their professional development, share best practices, explore new ways to deliver curriculum and advance student achievement for the past 25 years.  The Foundation received 456 Classroom Grant applications in 2014, a record number that was a 41% increase from the previous year. For more information on how you can support the teachers and students of Sarasota County’s public schools through the Classroom Grant program, please contact the Education Foundation 941-927-0965 or

CLICK HERE to see more great photos from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune!

CLICK HERE to see more great coverage fro the Observer!

Community Celebrates 2015 Regional Science Fair Award Winners

Finalists will represent Sarasota County at the state and international level

Sarasota, Florida – March 27, 2015 – Last night, an audience of over 300 family members, educators and donors honored the area’s most promising young scientists, engineers and inventors with monetary award and other prizes. Nine high school students- representing the six top scoring projects- will have the opportunity to compete at the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida. Upon completion of the state competition, two of the six projects will be selected to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, all expenses paid by the Education Foundation.

John Scalzi, ABC 7 television meteorologist, served as master of ceremonies at the annual awards ceremony, held at Suncoast Technical College’s Conference Center. School Board members, district leaders and fair sponsors joined him to congratulate the 56 students from grades 3-12 whose projects scored at the top in 21 research categories this year. Susan Scott, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, presented first place awards in each category in elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12).  Students took home more than $5,800 in cash gifts and additional special prizes for exceptional achievement. 


Dart Foundation award Winner Natalie Olson and Susan Scott

The fair’s major sponsors presented four scholarships to three outstanding high school participants. The Dart Foundation Award for Medicine & Health and a check for $1,000 was presented to Natalie Olson. The Sarasota High student took first place in the category of Medicine and Health Sciences for her project, “Increasing NO Production of Aromatase Inhibitor-Treated Endothelial Cells via the Addition of Resveratrol.”

The Dart Foundation Inspiration Award of $1,000 went to Courtney Astore, one of the overall winners of the Science Fair for the third year in a row.  The Cardinal Mooney senior captured top honors for her project, “MEDI-Profiler: A Computational Classifier that Identifies Determinant Chemical Features and their Influences on Pharmaceutical Drug Properties.

Ping Faulhaber, Courtneu astore, Fritz Faulhaber

Courtney also took home one of two $1,000 Faulhaber Foundation Prizes for the Scientific Exploration of Nature for her project. The other Faulhaber Prize went to Sarasota High School’s Rebecca Elsishans for her project, “Mitigation of the Cytotoxicity of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Utilizing Surface Functionalization and Non-toxic Surfactants.”

Rebecca Elsishans and Dr. Carl Luer



633 Sarasota County students from over 50 public, private and home schools submitted 705 individual and team projects to the regional competition.  More than 150 volunteer judges evaluated submissions and interviewed students from grades 3-5 on January 27 and from grades 6-12 on January 29.  Their scores determined the overall winners and winners in each of the categories.  First place projects were featured at the Sarasota County Fair in March.

Sarasota High School boasts four of the top six projects that will compete in the state competition. Rebecca Elsishans’ Mitigation of the Cytotoxicity of Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Utilizing Surface Functionalization and Non-toxic Surfactants; Skyler Haber and Savannah Jordan’s Cost-Efficient Method to Removing Harmful Contaminants in Water Through the Integration of a Mycelium Based Filtration System; Natalie Olson’s Increasing NO Production of Aromatase Inhibitor-Treated Endothelial Cells via the Addition of Resveratrol; Dylan Burgin’s The Effect of Temperature on Staphylococcus Epidermidis Biofilm Formation in the Presence of the Human Cathelicidin Peptide LL-37.  Courtney Astore from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School placed in the top six with MEDI-Profiler: A Computational Classifier that Identifies Determinant Chemical Features and their Influences on Pharmaceutical Drug Properties; along with Henry Tingle, Liam Rouse and Peter Florian from Pine View School with Full Body High Stress Protection Suit833.   

Grace Callahan receives her medal

Sarasota County Schools collaborates with the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County Fair Association to present the Science Fair each year.  Students participate by completing research in science, engineering, math or technology using the scientific or engineering method.  The Education Foundation through the generosity of local donors underwrites the fair, the county’s participation in the state and international competitions, and numerous cash awards. The Dart Foundation and the Faulhaber Foundation are the leading sponsors of the Sarasota Regional Science Fair. PGT Industries also sponsored the event this year for the first time. 

Wilkinson Elementary Educator is District’s 2015-16 Teacher of the Year

Superintendant Lori White and the 2014 and 2015 Teachers of the year- photo courtesy of the Sarasota Herald Tribune

SARASOTA, March 24, 2015 – Superintendent Lori White announced the 2015-16 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year at the annual awards ceremony honoring educators, held March 24 at Michael’s On East. Wilkinson Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Edward Hashey was named from among three finalists, including Russell Finger from Suncoast Polytechnical High School and Christi McDowell-Cameron from Brookside Middle School. Individual Teachers of the Year for each school also were honored. A partnership of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County School District produces the event.

White told the teachers in the audience of educators and supporters, “You are the best of the best. You are role models to our students, and your colleagues recognize what you do every day in the classroom. We celebrate what you do!” 

Accepting the award, Hashey remembered being in lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, while working on a graphic design project for the Wall Street Journal. He saw the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He described what he saw and heard as life-changing: “I was a witness to what happened,” he said. “I heard kids wailing and crying.” 

The emotional experience jolted Hashey. He began to examine what he was doing and realized he wanted to make more of a difference in the lives of others. When his wife gave him a pamphlet about a Florida teacher certification program, he decided that teaching in a K-12 public school would be his new career. He never looked back.

2015-16 teacher of the Year Edward Hashey reflects about the decision to become a teacher after 9/11

CLICK HERE for more photos

“I really just love being a teacher and spending the day with other teachers and students,” he said in February when he was surprised as the district’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year. “This is the toughest job I’ve every loved. To be a teacher is more than a job — it’s a lifestyle; you have to live it. But I get to work with students who are struggling and help them succeed. The work rewards me every day because it reminds me that even the toughest problems can be solved with collaboration and teamwork.”

Hashey has taught for 12 years: eight of them in elementary schools and four at the college level. A U.S. Navy veteran, Hashey earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from Ringling College of Art and Design and a Master of Education from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. He was an adjunct faculty instructor in graphic design at Ringling in 1999-2000 and at USF’s St. Petersburg campus in 2004-05.

In 2007-08 he taught at Rowlett Magnet Elementary School in Bradenton, then taught at Wakeland Elementary School of International Studies from 2008-13, joining the Wilkinson Elementary faculty later in 2013. 

At the Teacher of the Year ceremony, Hashey said he read that good teachers change their teaching regimen at least 15 percent every year, “but like a Sleep Number Bed, you have to find your own number. I try to change things up about 25 percent every year.” He spoke of his enormous respect for his fellow teachers, telling them directly, “You are my heroes.”

CLICK HERE for more photos from the Herald Tribune!

About the Sarasota County Teacher of the Year Program

The Teacher of the Year program is co-produced by the Sarasota County School District and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and is made possible through the funding and support of community partners. 

Hashey will receive a $3,500 cash award ($2,500 from Sunset Chevy Buick GMC and $1,000 from the Education Foundation); finalists McDowell-Cameron and Finger will receive $1,750 each ($1,250 each from the dealership and $500 each from the Foundation). Each of the three finalists also will receive $10,000 worth of instructional technology from the district for their classrooms to support their innovative approaches to teaching.  

Hashey will represent Sarasota County Schools at the Florida Department of Education-Macy's Teacher of the Year program and will serve as a spokesperson for and representative of the teaching profession at various events throughout the 2015-16 school year. All 40 individual schools’ Teachers of the Year will receive a quality professional portrait by Prestige Portraits.

20th Anniversary 'Evening of Excellence' raises over $275,000 for Sarasota schools

Venice and Pine View top 25 students
Top 25 students Talia Ursel, Nicholas Cropper, Maia Zildjian, Kateřina Stehlíková and Anika Hong

Sarasota, Florida – March 3, 2015 – Art enthusiasts and Education Foundation supporters gathered Friday night to show their appreciation of Sarasota County’s most talented high school art students and teachers. The evening ended with a bidding war during the auctioning of Sierra Pittman’s, Breeze on a Sail. Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, a first year sponsor of the event, won the piece with a bid of $3,600. Cindy Helton, Suncoast’s Executive Director, called Heidi Keesecker, Pittman’s mother, to the stage where she presented the painting to her. Keesecker tearfully accepted the generous gift which brought the art auction to a close.

The generous spirit of the evening was initially evident as auctioneers Jimmy Dean and Jerry Jordan announced that Harvard Jolly would be donating their purchase of Perdu by Amber Halt to Sarasota High School where Halt is a student.

The Education Foundation’s annual Evening of Excellence grossed over $275,000 including $56,000 in in-kind gifts and a live auction total of over $37,000. Education Foundation Executive Director Susan Scott and Board Chair Kimberly Walker thanked the 400 guests in attendance for supporting the program over the past 20 years. 

Cathi Bell, event Chair, introduced this year’s 23 award-winning high school artists. The event theme was Carnaval de Colores, inspired by Sabino Lops’ popular student piece from last year’s event.

Evening of Excellence is the premier arts competition for area high school artists, a fixture on the social calendar, and the signature fundraiser for the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.  Proceeds benefit the 41,200 students in the public schools through the organization’s initiatives and programs. 

The evening combines an elegant dinner with a lively auction that puts the Top 25 student art works up for sale to the highest bidder. The program has raised more than $2.7 million for schools, students and teachers since 1996.

Awards of $500 to $1,000 were presented to each of the Top 25 students, who represented every public high school in Sarasota County. In addition, more than $40,000 in monetary and in-kind donations was awarded to the student artists and high school art departments this year.

Mike and Evelyn Bryant and Shirley Ritchey Mike and Evelyn Bryant and Shirley Ritchey  

Sierra Pittman and the evening's top bidding piece Breeze on a Sail
Sierra Pittman with the evening's top selling piece, Breeze on a Sail



Click here to see the full list of student artists and art awards.

For more great photos and Media coverage, click the links below!

Join us for the 20th Annual Evening of Excellence- Carnaval de Colores

Join us as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of this innovative competition and event, showcasing the talents of the best high school artists. All proceeds support Sarasota County schools through the work of the Education Foundation!

Friday February 27, 2015
Michael's On East

Cocktails and Art Viewing- 6pm
Dinner and Art Auction -7pm

Click here to view the Top 25 student art pieces

Click here to buy tickets

2015 Herald Tribune ad


Education Foundation Awards 227 Classroom Grants to Sarasota County Teachers

SARASOTA, FL – December 4, 2014 – More than 350 teachers, donors and volunteers celebrated the 25th annual Classroom Grant Awards last night at Michael’s On East. Susan Scott of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County announced grant awards totaling $185,465 for 227 projects developed by teachers from 41 public schools in the district. Each grant will provide high quality enrichment and experiential learning opportunities for students during the 2014-2015 school year. This year’s program demonstrated the impact the foundation’s Classroom Grant program has on student learning, teachers, grant sponsors, and the community as a whole. 

Dr. Kingsley at the podium            Dr. Kingsley and grant recipient Heidi Ingerick

In her remarks, Dr. Laura Kingsley, principal of Fruitville Elementary School said “We are lucky to have the Education Foundation and the many donors whose entire mission is to support the children by supporting our teachers. And then we have you, our dedicated, clever and resourceful teachers who have gone above and beyond to create meaningful learning experiences for our children.”  A list of grant awards, teachers, project titles, and schools is  attached.  

Dr. Sandra Wise presents Argosy Principal's Award to Brandon Johnson

Argosy University sponsored the evening’s reception and presented the Argosy Principal’s Award for the seventh year. The award honors the principal whose school submitted the most grant proposals.  Dr. Sandra Wise, President of Argosy University-Sarasota, presented a check for $500 to Principal Brandon Johnson from Lamarque Elementary School. Rotary Club of Sarasota president Judy Bennett closed the ceremonies with a final drawing. McIntosh Middle School’s Amy Proch-Moore received the Rotary Club of Sarasota's Jim & Jean Henry Teacher's Award, an unrestricted cash gift of $500.    CLICK HERE for more great event photos!

Rotary Club of Sarasota Presents Jim and Jean Henry Teacher's Award

In 1990, the foundation awarded $6,000 in mini-grants to thirteen teachers.  Since then, the Education Foundation has awarded over $3.15 million for 4820 projects designed by teachers.   All Sarasota County K-12 public school teachers are eligible to apply for awards of up to $1000 through the Classroom Grants program. These funds go beyond what tax dollars can provide, giving teachers the resources they need to develop innovative enrichment projects and try new teaching techniques. The Education Foundation raises the money, sponsors workshops for teachers, and organizes community grant-reading sessions where over 150 volunteers score the teachers’ requests each fall.  Grant readings give citizens a connection to area classrooms and a chance to learn more about trends and challenges in teaching.    


Education Foundation of Sarasota Celebrates 25 Years of Serving Students

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County, founded by community members who valued public education, is celebrating 25 years of support for our public schools.  The Silver Celebration highlighting the 25 year milestone of the Foundation will be held on Friday, November 7, 2014 at Michael's On East.

Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $16 million in direct support to Sarasota County Schools. Just a few of the programs the community’s generosity has made possible are: grants for teachers to use in their classrooms to inspire student learning; tutors for struggling readers; computers and digital literacy training for low income families; the premiere arts competition for our town’s most promising young artists and designers and much, much more. The Foundation will recognize its generous supporters and former Sarasota County public school students who have achieved success in their chosen fields. Sarasota County School graduates Kevin Biegel, Sheriff Tom Knight, Superintendent Lori White, Dr. Megan Bogart, William (Bill) Merrill, III and Mayor Willie Shaw will be featured. The program will also include a performance from the talented Christopher Eisenberg, Sarasota High School student and West Coast Black Theatre Troupe performer. Tickets are still available but seating is limited.  

Please call the Education Foundation of Sarasota’s office at 941-927-0965 to reserve your seat today or click here  to buy tickets online!