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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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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.

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!       

Lori White puts Education Foundation Board of Directors in Detention!

In celebration of over 25 years of support for the teachers and students of Sarasota Public Schools, Superintendent Lori White has placed our board members in detention!  Help get them back in the classroom by making a donation to their fundraising page.  Click here to find your favorite board member's fundraising page and help them get back in the classroom!What's that you say?? Leave them in detention! Well, ok, but you can still support the Education Foundation directly.  DONATE NOW

Why Give Now?
Since 1988, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County has invested over $15 million in private contributions to give students a helping hand and keep our school system ranked at the top in the state of Florida.  This year, 52% of Sarasota County students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Now, more than ever, Sarasota County students need your help to be prepared for tomorrow’s world. Help means going beyond what tax dollars can provide and supporting an exceptional education for every child. Help means enhancing teacher training so that students have the highest quality instruction. Help means supporting innovative programs and technology that engage our students.  Help means creating classroom environments that model the 21st workplace so students are prepared for college and career opportunities after graduation.  On behalf of Sarasota County’s students, we thank you for your support and promise you that your gift will make a real difference in their lives. See who's in the lead... 

New Officers & Directors Take Charge at Education Foundation  

Sarasota, FL – June 4, 2014 – As she accepted the gavel from her predecessor, Kimberly Page Walker congratulated Cheryl Gordon for leading the Education Foundation of Sarasota County board of directors through a record-setting year.  “We raised more money, and we had a greater impact on student learning than ever before,” Walker said at the group’s annual meeting held today at The Field Club.  “You set a high bar, you led by example, and then you coached, cajoled and charmed us into meeting every goal.”  As the Foundation’s incoming chairwoman, Walker recognized the efforts of board members, employees, and executive director Susan Scott.  The group has invested $1.2 million in classroom grants, technology, literacy, student awards, teacher recognition, and other programs for Sarasota County schools during the 2013-2014 academic year.   Walker is an attorney with the law firm of Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, where she heads the firm’s labor and employment practice.  Other officers elected for 2014-2015 were Jason Swift, president of Jon F. Swift, Inc., as vice chairman; Thomas Koski, community volunteer and philanthropist, as secretary; and Tricia Fulton, CFO of Sun Hydraulics, returning as treasurer. 

  2014-15 board officers

New officers installed for 2014-2015 at the Education Foundation’s annual meeting were (left to right) Tom Koski, Secretary, Jason Swift, Vice Chairman, Kimberly Page Walker, Chairman of the Board, and Cheryl Gordon, Immediate Past Chair.  Not pictured: Tricia Fulton, Treasurer.    Three new members were elected to the board: Louis DeCongelio, a retired educator; John McIntyre, president of McIntyre, Elwell and Strammer, Inc.; and Alix Morin, community volunteer and co-chair of the Education Foundation’s 2014 Evening of Excellence student art competition.

 Susan scott and Louis DeCongelio

Education Foundation Executive Director Susan Scott welcomes new board member Louis DeCongelio. Four retiring board members were honored for their service, including Ronald Karp, Michael Longworth, Fred Strammer, and Constance White-Davis.

Highlights of 2013-2014 accomplishments:

The Education Foundation is on course to invest $1.2 million in technology, literacy, student awards, teacher recognition and other programs by June 30. Texcellence has delivered recycled computers, training and tech support to more than 7,000 students in need since the project began in April 2007. The installation of 30 new Education Foundation Digital Learning Labs is underway at local youth-serving agencies and Sarasota County Libraries. These Labs provide a safe, secure environment for students who otherwise do not have access to computers, educational software and skills training they need to succeed in the classroom – and in life.

At the 2014 Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, 822 students from 49 public, private and home schools submitted 657 individual and team projects to the regional competition. Two overall winners represented Sarasota County at the Intel International Fair in Los Angeles in May 2014, all expenses paid by the Education Foundation through the generous support of our sponsors, including The Dart Foundation and Faulhaber Foundation.

Academic Olympics had an all-time record number of students participating this year, representing 10 area high schools – public, charter and private.  For the first time, the Most Valuable Player from each of the 10 teams was honored with a $250 award at the Finals Tournament on March 29.

 The 19th annual Evening of Excellence student art competition raised awareness about the impact of the arts on learning and raised more than $290,000 in one night. The “Evening in Paris” volunteer committee was led by co-chairs Taylor Collins and Alix Morin.

As of this year, we have invested over $250,000 in Literacy for Life training and materials for struggling readers in high schools. Funding was made possible by the State of Florida through the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations and The Koski Foundation. The impact has been dramatic – 10th grade FCAT writing scores have increased significantly. 

Also, this year we awarded a record number of Classroom Grants to Sarasota County’s most creative and entrepreneurial teachers for projects they design to reach every student in their classrooms. Teachers received $348,156 through our Edge of Excellence and Exploration Grants programs to provide high quality enrichment and experiential learning opportunities for students during the 2013-2014 school year. 

The Teacher of the Year program honored top teachers throughout the district.  Taylor Ranch Elementary science teacher Lisa Figueroa captured the top honors.  The three finalists won thousands of dollars in cash awards and prizes from Education Foundation sponsors, and Figueroa will represent the district at the state competition this July. In addition, to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Education Foundation, founder Shirley Ritchey presented $250 awards to the principals of Sarasota High, Venice Middle and Taylor Ranch Elementary in honor of the three Teacher of the Year finalists. The 25th Anniversary Committee also presented School Board of Sarasota County Chairwoman Jane Goodwin with a plaque honoring Teachers of the Year since 1970. That plaque is now mounted at the entrance of the Sarasota County School Board Chambers. 


Thank you for your support!

2014 giving challenge

Why Support Digital Learning Labs in Sarasota County? Your donation will provide a safe and supportive after-school environment for children to improve reading and math skills, while gaining valuable computer literacy skills at places like Alta Vista Elementary, North Port Library, Boys & Girls Clubs, Beyond the Spectrum and the Sarasota Housing Authority.  But don't take our word for it... 

Community Celebrates 2014 Regional Science Fair Award Winners  

Finalists Courtney Astore, Rebecca Elsishans head to Intel Fair in May

 Courtney Astore and REbecca Elsishans with Brad Porinchak and Dr. Carl LuerMote Marine’s Dr. Carl Luer, Rebecca Elsishans, Courtney Astore and Science Fair Director Brad Porinchak at the closing of the 2014 Science Fair Awards on April 10. Elsishans and Astore will go on to the Intel International Science Fair in Los Angeles from May 11-16, all expenses paid by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County

Sarasota, Florida – April 11, 2014 
– 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 awards, other prizes, and – for two top-scoring high school students – a chance to compete in the international arena at the 25th annual Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair Awards. John Scalzi, ABC 7 television meteorologist, served as master of ceremonies at the annual awards ceremony, held for the first time at Sarasota County Technical Institute’s Conference Center.  “You all carry with you the eternal question of ‘why,’ and it will keep you young,” Scalzi promised the honorees. Superintendent Lori White, 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 $12,500 in cash gifts and additional special prizes for exceptional achievement.  The fair’s major sponsors presented scholarships to six outstanding high school participants. The two overall winners, Cardinal Mooney’s Courtney Astore and Sarasota High’s Rebecca Elsishans, will represent Sarasota County next month at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, all expenses paid by the Education Foundation. Read More....

Click here for more event photos..

Parents: Click Here to take the 2015 School Climate Survey by March 20.