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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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What kind of difference would you like to make in the life of a child?

Regional Science, Engineering and Technology Fair
Venice Middle School Scientists

Elementary School RSET Fair
(Grades 3-5)
January 27, 2015 
8 am - 12 pm

Middle/High School RSET Fair
(Grades 6-12)
January 29, 2015
8 am - 12 pm

Become a science fair judge:



The Sarasota Regional Science, Engineering & Technology Fair is the culminating activity of science curriculum taught in the classroom. It focuses on scientific research skills, use of the scientific method and technology. Every student, Kindergarten through 12th grade is invited to participate. Area students have consistently progressed to international competition, returning with scholarships and major awards. During the Science Fair students are interviewed and their projects assessed by volunteer judges. Nearly 200 community leaders, elected officials, and professionals in science-related fields such as medicine, engineering, academia, research and technology serve as judges.

*Instructional meetings will be held on the judging days at 8:00 a.m. To better serve our judges, additional opportunities to receive instruction will be available at your convenience on the days preceding the judging. 


Classroom Grants

The Education Foundation Classroom grants program consists of two categories of grants, Edge of Excellence and Explorations Grants. These grants help fund curriculum or project based learning projects for classrooms that the teachers and district could not otherwise afford.

Thanks to generous donors, the Foundation has awarded over $2.65 million for 4,326 classroom grants, opening new horizons for thousands of students over the years.

Edge of Excellence Classroom Grants

elementary school students use interactive books with headphones to practice reading and math skills

Innovative curriculum-based projects are made possible through the  Edge of Excellence   Classroom Grant Program. Now in its 25th year, this annual signature program has brought cutting-edge teaching and educational adventures into the classroom. Teachers use the grant to fund materials for the classroom, fieldtrips, digital software, and hardware, things that would otherwise come out of their own pocket if they’re able to afford it. To produce the Edge of Excellence program, the Education Foundation raises the funds, sponsors grant-writing workshops for teachers, and organizes community-wide grant-reading sessions where as many as 200 dedicated volunteers evaluate the grant proposals.

Each year, teachers from every grade level and every school in Sarasota County are invited to apply for these $500- $1,000 grants. Through the generosity of this community, approximately 200 grant applications are funded – and thousands of students experience more excitement for learning as new worlds are opened up to them.

Individuals, corporations, foundations and civic organizations sponsor Edge of Excellence grants named for them or in honor of a special person. They are invited to present the grant to the teacher at a festive awards ceremony and visit the classroom to see the grant in action.  

Education Foundation Exploration Classroom Grants

Students identify and catalog native and invasive plant and animal species at Oscar Scherer State Park

Exploration grants make the community’s cultural and natural treasures accessible to students, especially those who might not otherwise have these opportunities. They are based on experiences currently posted on

This year the process for applying for Education Foundation Exploration Grants is changed. Schools, departments, and classrooms will be invited to apply for selected Explorations based on donors’ interests. As these grants become available, the Foundation will seek proposals from teachers whose classrooms are a good fit with a donor’s intent.


 Mote dip net  

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Evening of Excellence Student Art Program

 Sarah Nowicki and her Top 25 placing entry


Teachers and Art Students

Program Forms


Evening of Excellence is an innovative art program and established Sarasota social event that raises over $300,000 each year. Proceeds benefit more than 40,000 students in the public schools through the work of the Education Foundation. The event combines an elegant dinner with a spirited auction showcasing the talents of the Best of the Best high school artists. The program has raised more than $1.5 million for Sarasota County’s public schools over the past fourteen years, while raising awareness about the vital role the arts play in learning.

Texcellence Home Computer Program and Digital Learning Labs

Tre'maya Moore at the Sarasota Housing Authority Digital Learning Lab
  Technology is a critical tool for education. The Texcellence Home Computer Program and Digital Learning Labs aim to increase access to computers, internet, and digital literacy training. Digital literacy is essential if students are to attain 21st century learning skills – effective communication, problem solving & critical thinking, productive collaboration, creativity, and innovation – and become college and career ready. More about Texcellence...

Jennifer Sams, Texcellence Program Coordinator


Student Scholarships and Awards 

2013 EveEx Student Top 25   Petra

Evening of Excellence Student Art Awards
Student Art Awards are given annually through the Evening of Excellence Student Art Program. Entrants must be students of grades 9 – 12, enrolled in Sarasota County public high schools for the entire academic year, and who are taking an art class for credit. Placement in the Top 25 Best of the Best artworks from the juried art show can earn art awards from local corporate and private donors. Every artist who places in the Top 25 receives a monetary award.

Michael Archer Scholarship
The Michael J. Archer Scholarship was established in memory of Mr. Michael Jason Archer. To honor his legacy and family, the Tervis Tumbler Company funds this scholarship in his name.

One scholarship in the amount of $1,000 will be awarded to a graduating Sarasota County public high school student who plans to attend a Florida four-year college or university. It is renewable for three additional years with required documentation and progress toward a degree.

Omar Cooper Award for Student Achievement
Started during the 2008-2009 school year, this program awards monetary prizes to talented young people who are not afraid to compete and achieve great things in science, in the performing and visual arts, and in public service. Students are matched with a mentor to make sure they have access to caring and knowledgeable adults with professional expertise in their chosen discipline. Each student receives a $2,000 merit award, and each of the mentors receives a $1,000 stipend to help underwrite expenses associated with a full 12-month mentorship.      

Teacher of the Year 
2014 TOY Lisa Figueroa  

Accepting the 2014-15 Teacher of the Year award, Lisa Figueroa told the audience of teachers, administrators, School Board members and community supporters about the call-and-response ritual she leads every day in her science labs at the Venice school.

“Who are you?,” she asks her students. “I am a unique and powerful person!,” they answer. “Why are you here?,” she asks. The children respond, “I am here to believe in myself and make a difference!”

“The kids are the reason I’m here,” said Figueroa. “Their excitement about science makes me want to be a better teacher.” 

Each year, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County and the Sarasota County School Board proudly partner to present the Sarasota County Teacher of the Year program. This program focuses attention on the contributions of classroom teachers and honors those who have the talent to inspire a love of learning in all students.

The annual celebratory awards reception is the highlight of this important effort. Sponsors, school district administrators, the press, and the candidates’ principals and family members gather to honor the Teachers of the Year from every public school in the Sarasota County school district. The district Teacher of the Year, who is selected from the three finalists, is announced at the reception and begins a year as good will ambassador for the school district. He or she also represents our community at statewide educational events.  

Gina Barresi, Ian Ackroyd and 2014 TOY Lisa Figueroa

Taylor Ranch Elementary science teacher Lisa Figueroa was named the Sarasota County Teacher of the Year March 27 in an evening ceremony at Laurel Oak Country Club in Sarasota. The event also honored the candidates from schools throughout the county. 

Figueroa was chosen from among three finalists, including Ian Ackroyd, a Venice Middle School music teacher; and Gina Barresi, a Sarasota High School English teacher.

Click here to sponsor Teacher of the Year 

Academic Olympics

Academic Olympics is a competition modeled on television’s “College Bowl,” where teams of students compete to answer a variety of questions based on an array of topics. This program recognizes and encourages intellectual achievements in our students. 
Pine View captures the Academic Olympics Trophy

All area high schools and hundreds of students participate, and many dedicated community individuals help to produce this program – volunteers from AAUW, the Military Officers Association, the generous sponsorship of the Dart Foundation, student sponsors, contributors, parents, coaches and school administrators. More about Academic Olympics...  

Literacy for Life

Boys Reading       

To help achieve its strategic goal of helping every child become a better reader the Foundation has identified a 3-5 year initiative that will provide high school teachers with advanced training from nationally known literacy experts. The objective is to improve student skills through new instructional methods that infuse reading and writing in all subject areas. Students develop reading, writing and critical thinking skills for success in school and the workplace. Low-performing students are specifically targeted for under-performing in reading and writing.

Teachers that are leaders in advanced teaching methods train other teachers in their schools, ultimately ensuring that all high school teachers understand how to help improve students’ literacy skills. The main idea is: all teachers are reading teachers. Math, Science, and Social Studies area-content teachers need for their students to comprehend reading their subjects, just like Language Arts teachers do.

This year, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County invested an additional $30,000, almost $100,000 to-date, to support this initiative. It benefits an estimated 5,000 young people in Sarasota County each year. 


PALS Volunteers in Education: Tutors and Mentors Program

Kansas Swisher and Joann Sutton

PALS’ innovative tutoring programs give caring adults a chance to make a real difference in the lives of Sarasota County students. Comprehensive training is provided for in-school tutors and other volunteers. PALS’ innovative reading programs provide elementary students with the most important service that our overburdened educational system cannot always deliver - one-to-one interaction with an adult. More about PALS…