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Treasure Tampa offers $30K for local placemaking project

The Tampa-based Gobioff Foundation, a private family philanthropic organization supporting creative placemaking in Tampa, has launched its second round of funding for artistic endeavors that help create a sense of place and spur economic development in a neighborhood.

The Foundation will accept letters of interest through January 15 for its Treasure Tampa (T²) initiative, which will award $30,000 to one or more projects.

The goal of Treasure Tampa is to “increase the visibility of the arts,” says Neil Gobioff, the foundation’s president. “It’s not a tourism-centric thing,” he explains. “I prefer to think of it as highlighting the arts, and what is in Tampa already, to the people that already are here.”

Treasure Tampa is designed to inspire more creative placemaking, or the use of arts- and culture-based projects to help revitalize communities. “It is primarily an arts thing,” he says. “Creative placemaking can encompass much more than just the arts.”

Ideally a proposal would address a community issue through a collaborative effort that involves local residents. “It’s a lot different than just someone wanting to put up a piece of public art in an affluent neighborhood. That’s not what the funds are for,” he says.

Last year’s winner, the University Area Community Development Corporation, won “because of their connection to the community they are serving,” he points out, and because they engaged several partners in a collaborative effort to create participatory activities and events. 83 Degrees served as a media partner, for example.

“The community was heavily involved in the design and creation and installation of the art that was put in the Harvest Hope Park,” he says. “All the community was involved from Day One.”

Each proposal must be for a project within the city of Tampa or within the neighborhood served by the University Area CDC. It needs to involve a nonprofit organization, either as the executor of the project or as a fiscal agent. It also must involve a collaboration between at least two of these sectors -- public, private, or nonprofit.

It is likely one applicant will receive the $30,000, although multiple lower amount awards possibly may be given. “Most of the applications come in seeking the full $30,000,” he says.

The online application process is a little bit different this year. “One of the big changes this year is we shifted the timeline,” Gobioff says. “This way they’re not rushing to get it out right before the holidays, or during the holidays.”

The first round of the application process is less indepth than subsequent ones, he says. Letters of interest will be screened by a panel of artists, curators and business leaders. Then some submitters will be invited to make a full application by March 28. The winner or winners will be notified May 1 and have six months from then to begin the project; the funds should be used within a year.

“Some of these projects can be an ongoing project,” he explains.

This is the second year for the program inspired by a benefit for ArtPlace America, a cooperative endeavor aimed at strengthening communities by integrating arts and culture in community planning and development.

“The funding is only one aspect of it,” he says. “We also hold the educational events.”

The foundation, started by Gobioff’s brother Howard shortly before his death from cancer in 2008, also supports human rights and civil liberties causes globally.

A ribbon cutting and art unveiling Friday, December 15, commemorated the improvements at Harvest Hope Park at 13704 N. 20th St., Tampa. The event culminated with a Community Block Party.

With the community garden, playground and artwork installed, University Area CDC is proceeding with the project’s second phase, to include multi-purpose sports field, sidewalks, lighting and parking, says Nestor Ortiz, the organization’s chief programs officer.

Those improvements are scheduled for completion in 2018, he says.

Learn more about Treasure Tampa (T²) by visiting current projects on the Gobioff Foundation website.


Artist-made skateboard proceeds go to nonprofit Boards for Bros.

There’s no denying that skateboarding culture has always been mixed up with some form of art, whether it’s deck design or graffiti.

Now comes California Artist Andrew Schoultz to kick off the annual Tampa Amateur Skateboarding Finals while celebrating the Skatepark of Tampa’s 25th Anniversary. Schoultz will be exhibiting 15 hand-painted skate decks alongside 10 other artist’s boards at The Bricks in Ybor on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m.
 
Instead of the profits going into the artists’ pockets, these 25 rideable art pieces will be going to the local nonprofit Boards for Bros.
 
“I’ve been paying attention to what Boards for Bros. has been doing for a while. They go into underprivileged areas where there are skate parks or they’ll set up a mini skate park for a weekend and they give away boards and helmets to those who don’t have them. Right now, skateboarding is the new ‘hoop dreams.’ Some of the most talented kids are coming from underprivileged areas. Skateboarding really can save you, and I think there’s a lot of power and purpose in what they’re doing,” Schoultz says.
 
Though he lives and works in California, Schoultz has ties to the skateboarding community in Tampa through Paul Zitzer, SPoT Events Operations and Public Relations (they grew up in the same city), and SPoT owner Brian Schaefer (they connected after he saw Schoultz’ installation at Art Basel Miami last year).
 
“I was coming to SPoT a lot in the '90s, and in 1999 I skated in one of their amateur contests. I pretty much grew up going there, and 20 years later I’m still participating, just in a different way,” the artist says. “I’ve worked in a nonprofit sector in the past, so I know how hard fundraising is. You can do a lot with very little and still have a big effect, so raising a couple thousand dollars could really help. This is what I love about skateboarding, it’s a really community-oriented sport.”
 
Schoultz, who earned his BFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, has international acclaim and mostly shows in galleries and museums with linear/drawing-based work that is loosely based on comic books, graffiti, old clip art and skateboard graphics.
 
“I’ve been a skateboarder all my life, but as an artist I’ve emerged into doing things all over the world. Skateboarding has informed everything I’ve done to this point as an artist and a person,” he says.
 
While Schoultz won’t be around for this opening, he will be back in Tampa in March where he will be there to paint the skatepark and participate in another fundraising event during the Annual Tampa Pro.
 
Any pieces that don’t sell during the show will be available online at SPoTTampa starting Nov. 20, with the proceeds still going toward Boards for Bros.

Zombies For Good: Saint Pete Dance Center benefit

A horde of kind-hearted zombies overran Saint Pete Dance Center Sunday, Oct. 8. Their mission was threefold: to celebrate the dance studio’s recent opening, learn Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance and raise funds for the Mauro Youth Ballet School in Puerto Rico. 

“It was a ribbon cutting with an undead twist, and we’re thankful to be able to help a studio whose students desperately need assistance,” says Saint Pete Dance Center owner Katie Fader.

Donations were accepted for the Mauro Youth Ballet, whose Puerto Rico studio was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria. Added to structural concerns, Mauro dancers also face a lack of supplies such as leotards and pointe shoes. A GoFundMe campaign explains that these children face a long road as their community recovers.

“We try to teach our young dancers to express themselves, and that expression includes empathy,” Fader says. “This is our attempt to help, and learning an iconic dance is a bonus.”

The Saint Pete Dance Center opened its doors in September and offers classes for children and adults. Fader plans to head her studio zombie squad of adults and children October 29 as part of Thrill St. Pete, the local division of Thrill the World. www.thrilltheworld.com This organization of Thriller devotees performs the dance simultaneously with other groups across the globe. Their goal is to break the world record of the most people performing Thriller at one time.

To teach the dance made famous in Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video, Thrill St. Pete volunteer instructors Jennifer Crawford and Julia Burdick demonstrated the steps in easy-to-learn sequences. An hour later, the zombie squad had achieved tentative mastery. 

Thrill St. Pete offers many opportunities for instruction community-wide, Burdick says, and usually collects donations for the charity The Kind Mouse during their events. Here is a link to an 83 Degrees story about The Kind Mouse.

With the latest storms still fresh in mind, giving to the Mauro Youth Ballet made sense.

“We give back to the community at the same time we dress up and pretend to be characters in Thriller,” she says. “It’s just so much fun.”

Donate to the Mauro Youth Ballet recovery effort.

View available practice dates and discover how to join the world record Thriller attempt by visiting the web page for Thrill St. Pete.

To suggest additional story ideas, email 83 Degrees.

To subscribe to our free weekly e-magazine, follow this link.

Do you love to work with kids? Encore Tampa Bay is recruiting volunteers

Tampa Bay is one of 16 communities nationwide that is piloting a grassroots program aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable children. Called Generation to Generation, the program mobilizes older adults, who share their talents and experience.

“The goal of the national campaign is to mobilize over 1 million adults in the next five years to serve in any kind of role helping kids,” says Bevan Rogel, Executive Director of Encore Tampa Bay, a nonprofit initiative working under the umbrella of Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

The adults may read to children, or be a mentor or friend. “We think it’s a match made in heaven,” she says. “We think it’s going to be a good thing for the community.”

Encore Tampa Bay is part of a larger movement of Baby Boomers, who are realizing in their 50s and 60s or beyond that they want to do something more with their life: they want an encore. They want to use their skills and talents. That may mean starting a new business, volunteering, using a skill in new ways, or starting another career.

“Older people realize they can live the life that they’ve always wanted to live, instead of doing what was expected of them,” she says.

When they retire or become empty nesters, seniors aren’t always sure what they want to do. “Older adults say they want to do something to help kids, but they don’t always know where to go,” she says.

Generation to Generation, an Encore initiative, gives adults a chance to discover what they’d like to do, while sharing the depths of their experiences with young people. “It’s a learning lab. We’re trying different things,” she says. “It’s not just a call for social action. It’s really looking at going deep within different communities.”

Generation to Generation will be working with community centers, neighborhood associations, libraries, retired teachers, alumni, corporate groups and clubs to identify ways to help children through partnerships.

Encore Tampa Bay is recruiting both partners who work with older adults -- and older adults to work with children starting in January. It is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries, R’Club Child Care, Inc., and United Way Suncoast in the two-year program.

“We can’t do this alone. We need organizations,” she says. “People who are in front of older adults all the time.”

Initially the program is targeting three areas: Wimauma, Tampa Heights and South St. Petersburg.

Volunteer leadership roles are available in multiple areas including marketing, storytelling, evaluation, community outreach and ambassadorship.

Ultimately, the goal of Generation to Generation is to expand beyond the older and younger sets. So, there won’t be any “carding” if younger adults want to lend a helping hand, Rogel says.

“Our bigger effort is to involve all generations in helping kids,” she says.


City of Tampa digitizes old photo collections, now available to public

For years, the Burgert Brothers photography collection has provided Tampa historians and history buffs an incomparable look back at the community’s history. The 15,000 photographs taken by the local photography firm between the late 1800s and early 1960s, available for online viewing on the Hillsborough County Public Library website, is now being joined by two more extensive collections of photographs chronicling life in the Tampa Bay Area from the 1940s through the 1990s. 

The announcement comes in commemoration of Tampa’s 130th birthday and also coincides with the city’s Archives Awareness Week, an annual event that was founded by the City of Tampa Archives Advisory Committee in 1992. These photographs, ranging from 1950 until 1990, feature local landmarks, events, local elected officials and dignitaries, street scenes and other topics of interest to Tampa Bay Area historians and history buffs. 

The newly released archival images include 30,000 photographs from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Collection, which was donated by the Tampa Historical Society to the City of Tampa in 1994. The Tampa Photo Supply Collection was donated to the city in 2016 and includes 50,000 images taken by local photographers Rose Rutigliano Weekley and Joseph Scolaro between 1940 and 1990; they focus mainly on subjects from West Tampa, Ybor City, and South Tampa and include images of graduations, weddings and scenes from daily life. 

All told, these 80,000 newly available historic Tampa photographs represent quintuple the number of images in the existing archive of 15,000 Burgert Brothers images presently available to the public. 

“Digitization of the Tampa Photo Supply Collection should be done within a year,” says City of Tampa Archives and Records Manager Jennifer Dietz. Presently, about 50 percent of that collection has been digitized. “The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Collection may take a bit longer to complete.” 

Dietz says negatives of the images from the Greater Chamber of Commerce Collection have been available to the public for years. 

“This is how it was accessed for many years prior to our digitization efforts and collaboration with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.” She explains that handling the negatives has become a challenging task due to natural deterioration. “Due to vinegar syndrome [a type of acetate film breakdown common with aging negatives], the negatives from the Tampa Photo Supply Collection are frail and in quarantine at our offsite archives vault.”

The 35-millimeter negatives from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Collection are being scanned in at 1,200 dots per inch (dpi). Meanwhile, negatives from the Tampa Photo Supply Collection measure four inches by five inches and are being scanned at 600 dpi. 

In other words, photographs from both collections will be available in a high-resolution format that is perfect for both viewing and publication. Dietz says these images will be available for use in nonprofit and commercial books, scholarly materials and other media works, provided that credit is given to the City of Tampa Archives and Records Division. 

“We are hoping to get everything from these two collections uploaded within the next five years,” she remarks. “We are very excited about releasing these two historic photo collections and feel they will be valuable resources for researchers and the citizens of Tampa.” 

To search Tampa’s photographic archives online and for more information, please visit the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative Digital Collections website.

For Good: RCMA Wimauma Academy rejoices in top math scores

Mandy Johnson, third-grade teacher at Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) Wimauma Academy, says she got goosebumps when she received the news of her students not just passing, but excelling on the Florida Standards Assessment. The entire grade level, 36 students, achieved a passing score. 

“This is a great achievement,” says Johnson, who teaches math using a marching cadence. “My kids live in poverty and we still beat the rest of the schools in the county. That speaks volumes.’’ 

The students take the exam in the spring. Results released in June show that no other school in Hillsborough County, and only 11 others statewide, achieved a 100 percent passing rate for an entire grade level. The school’s fourth- and fifth-graders surpassed the state average for math and the averages of other elementary schools in the Wimauma area. In addition, students at RCMA Leadership Academy recorded higher math passing rates than the area’s neighboring middle schools. 

“I am elated with not only the third grade math results, but with our results overall,” says Mark Haggett, principal of the RCMA Academies in Wimauma. “In a time where so many negative things in general are being said politically, we have stressed to our scholars that the best way to combat that thinking is to show everyone their ability, which is just what they have done.’’ 
 

One of Johnson’s students, Diego Sanches, received a perfect score on the math portion of the exam. All 64 questions right, Johnson says with an air of pride. For the past four years, Johnson’s classes have achieved a 97, 95s, and now 100 percent proficiency on the math portion of the standardized test. 

“Strong leadership, effective instruction and parent partnerships contributed to our students’ success,” says Juana Brown, RCMA’s director of charter schools. “There was such fierce determination and focus on the part of everyone in our school community.” 

So, how is Johnson managing to help children who are disadvantaged by a language barrier achieve such high scores?
 
“I teach it, review it and drill it until my students get it,’’ she says. “Language is a barrier, but these kids are always ready to learn. They come everyday eager to learn because they know I will teach them something new. They work hard.” 

Johnson implements STANDOUT Math methods and strategies in her lessons. STANDOUT Math is a program that combines oral, visual and kinesthetic aspects to achieve a whole brain math approach. Johnson says that what she learned from the creator of STANDOUT Math was based on the Colorado state standards, so she adjusted it for her own students’ needs, creating chants and songs for the math concepts she teaches. 

So far, Johnson has written 50 chants associated with the math concepts she teaches, which her students memorize.
 
Johnson, who has a military background, says she also uses Fact Fluency, a multiplication and division program, in her classroom. 

For homework, Johnson assigns two pages front and back with a variety of assignments such as five multiplication, five area and five measurement problems. The idea is that they develop different skills, she says. By the end of the academic year, she has brought the homework load to five pages front and back. By then, the students can solve addition, subtraction, fraction and division problems. 

“I’m not mean, but I’m strict,” Johnson says. “My kids know what they do first, second, third and fourth. We sing, and we play review games. I show them I care for them. They know they have a teacher that will be there for them, that will support them.’’
 
In her teaching career, Johnson has taught in both all white and mixed schools, but RCMA is Johnson’s first experience working with all Hispanic children. 

“I love them. I tell them often, your parents brought you to this country because they don’t want you to work on the fields, they want you to do better,” Johnson says. 

Johnson has taught seven years at RCMA. She taught second grade for three years and third grade for four years. Next year, besides teaching two groups of third grade, Johnson will work reviewing math chants with fourth and fifth graders.
 
“We’ve known that with the right environment and good, passionate teachers who constantly strive to improve learning, students can succeed,” Brown said. “And they’re doing just that.” 

Para bien: RCMA Wimauma Academy se regocija por lograr las mejores puntuaciones en matemáticas

Mandy Johnson, maestra de tercer grado en la Academia de Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) en Wimauma, se sorprendió cuando recibió la noticia de que sus clases no solo lograron un puntaje alto, sino que el 100 por ciento de sus alumnos aprobaron el examen estatal de estándares Florida Standard Assessment (FSA). Ambos grupos de tercer grado, los 36 estudiantes, lograron puntaje aprobatorio.

 “Este es un gran logro”, dijo Johnson, quien enseña matemáticas usando cantos al ritmo y cadencia de marchas. “Mis alumnos viven en la pobreza y aún así les ganamos al resto de las escuelas del condado. Eso dice mucho”, agregó.

Los estudiantes tomaron el examen en primavera. Los resultados dados a conocer la semana pasada muestran que no hubo otra escuela en el condado de Hillsborough, y solo 11 otras en todo el Estado, lograron el 100 por ciento de porcentaje aprobatorio en todo el tercer grado. Los alumnos de cuarto y quinto grado de la escuela también sobrepasaron los promedios estatales en matemáticas y los promedios de otras escuelas elementales del área de Wimauma. Además, estudiantes de la academia de liderazgo RCMA Leadership Academy lograron porcentajes aprobatorios más altos que las escuelas medias de áreas vecinas.

"Estoy muy contento no solo con los resultados de matemáticas del tercer grado, sino con nuestros resultados en general", dijo Mark Haggett, director de las Academias RCMA en Wimauma. "En un tiempo en el que se dicen tantas cosas negativas en términos políticos, hemos subrayado a nuestros estudiantes que la mejor manera de combatir ese pensamiento es mostrando todas su habilidad, que es exactamente lo que han hecho", agregó.

Uno de los estudiantes de Johnson, Diego Sanches, logró una puntuación perfecta en la porción de matemáticas del examen. Contestó las 64 preguntas correctamente, dijo Johnson con un aire de orgullo.

Durante los últimos 4 años, los grupos de Johnson han logrado 97, 95 y 100 por ciento de puntajes aprobatorios en la porción de matemáticas en el examen estatal.

"Un liderazgo fuerte, instrucción eficaz y el apoyo de los padres de familia contribuyeron al éxito de nuestros estudiantes", dijo Juana Brown, directora de escuelas chárter de RCMA. "Había una determinación y enfoque feroz por parte de todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad escolar".

Pero, ¿cómo le hace Johnson para ayudar a niños desfavorecidos por la barrera del lenguaje a alcanzar tales puntuaciones?

"Enseño, repaso y practico”, enfatizó Johnson. “Hasta que mis estudiantes lo comprendan y lo asimilen. Cuando el lenguaje es una barrera, estos niños están siempre dispuestos a aprender. Todos los días vienen con ganas de aprender porque saben que les enseñaré algo nuevo. Trabajan duro”, añadió.

Johnson implementa métodos y estrategias como STANDOUT Math en sus lecciones. STANDOUT Math es un programa que  combina aspectos orales, visuales y de movimientos para lograr un mejor aprovechamiento de matemáticas. Johnson dijo que aprendió el programa de la creadora de STANDOUT Math con base en los estándares del estado de Colorado, por lo que ella hizo sus propios ajustes de acuerdo a las necesidades de sus estudiantes en Wimauma, creando cantos y canciones para los conceptos de matemáticas que ella enseña.

Hasta el momento, Johnson ha escrito 50 cantos asociados con los conceptos de matemáticas que enseña y sus estudiantes los han aprendido, dijo.

Johnson, quien trabajó en la Fuerza Aérea de los Estados Unidos, dijo que también utiliza como estrategia de enseñanza Fact Fluency, un programa de multiplicaciones y divisiones.

De tarea, Johnson asigna dos páginas de frente y reverse con una variedad de problemas de matemáticas, por ejemplo, cinco multiplicaciones, cinco problemas de área y cinco de medidas. La idea es que desarrollen diferentes habilidades, dijo. Para el final del año, la maestro aumenta la carga de tarea a 5 páginas, frente y reverso. Para entonces, los estudiantes pueden resolver problemas varios, por ejemplo sumas, restas, divisiones y fracciones.

"Yo no soy mala pero soy estricta", dijo Johnson. "Mis niños saben lo que tienen que hacer primero, segundo, tercero y cuarto. Cantamos y participamos en juegos de revisión y repaso. Les muestro que me importan. Ellos saben que tienen un profesora que estará allí para ellos cuando lo necesiten, que les apoyará”, dijo.

En su carrera como educadora, Johnson ha enseñado en escuelas de blancos y mixtas, pero RCMA es la primera experiencia en la que Johnson trabaja con la gran mayoría de niños hispanos.

 “Me encantan. Les digo con frecuencia, sus padres los trajeron aquí porque no quieren que ustedes trabajen en los campos de cultivo, ellos quieren algo mejor para ustedes”, comentó Johnson.

Johnson ha enseñado siete años en RCMA. Enseñó Segundo grado por 3 años, y tercer años por cuatro años. El año entrante, además de sus dos grupos de tercer año, Johnson trabajará con alumnos de cuarto y quinto año para ayudarlos a repasar sus cantos de matemáticas con el fin de que mantengan frescos los conceptos aprendidos.

"Sabemos que con el entorno adecuado y profesores buenos, apasionados, que se esfuerzan constantemente por mejorar el aprendizaje, los estudiantes pueden tener éxito", precisó Brown. -- “Y eso es precisamente lo que están haciendo.”


Loan agreement reached to spare Wimauma’s Wholesome Church, expand role in community

A Wimauma church, whose domed sanctuary was in danger of being raised to build custom homes, received approval May 17 for a loan to purchase the property along U.S. Highway 301.

“It’s been a miracle. God has opened doors,” says Lead Pastor Carlos Irizarry, of Wimauma’s Wholesome Church.

Wholesome, which has been renting the property for five years, appealed to the public in March for $235,000 to buy the property and keep it from being torn down to build a subdivision. The owner, River of Life Christian Center in Riverview, had received an offer from a developer for the property valued at $1.5 million. River of Life gave Wholesome the first right of purchase, at a considerable discount, but it asked Wholesome to act or vacate.

After deadline extensions in March and April, Florida Community Loan Fund approved the church's application for the loan, with conditions. A closing is anticipated on or before June 30.

The Florida Community Loan Fund, according to its website, "was founded in 1994 to provide a statewide source of flexible financing for delivering capital to low-income communities to support community development projects by nonprofit organizations throughout the state. Today it has made over 200 loans for a total of over $195 million to over 100 organizations to improve social and economic conditions in communities all across Florida.''

The Dream goes on to help the Wimauma community,” Irizarry says. “We still need to raise $20,000 for closing cost and other expenses involved.”

The church is accepting donations on its website and at Go Fund Me, where it has raised $1,125 for its “Save the Dome” campaign.

Wholesome also is expected to have a lease agreement to rent a house on the property before the closing date, make the church available for those who want to rent it for meetings, and have the needed appraisal and inspections.

The owners are fully cooperating with us,” Irizarry says. “We agreed on the contract. That’s how we were able to proceed with the application.”

The pastor credits a “Dream Team” God put together for the miracle, which played out after he was referred to the Florida Community Loan Fund by an advisor, Manny Rivero. The team included Olga and Joe Gonzalez, grant writer Leigh Chambliss, his wife, Judy, and other volunteers, such as Bob Buesing of Trenam Law, who provided free legal representation to Wholesome Church.

“Our church members were faithful, praying outside the church,” he adds. “No inch was left not saturated with prayer.”

Irizarry also is grateful to donors.

Now that the loan has been approved, the church will be more available for community uses and is seeking nonprofit groups to partner with in ministry to the largely rural community in south Hillsborough County. Nearly 80 percent of Wimauma residents are Hispanic; most landowners are multi-generational African-Americans or whites.

“We want to expand as soon as possible. Now you’re going to see more involvement with the community,” he asserts. “We’re ready for action.”

Wholesome had developed extensive plans for the property on the east side of U.S. 301 between Big Bend Road and State Road 674, but it could not proceed until it secured ownership. Those plans include health and youth centers, a preschool/ administration building, kitchen hall, multipurpose building and thrift shop.

Once the sale is complete, Wholesome will focus its efforts on a pre-school, New Generation Academy, it plans to open in the fall. “We’re going to prepare room,” he says.

A coalition of people concerned about the community of Wimauma has targeted early learning as a priority for its young children, who may be hindered because their parents don't speak English. With help from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, the Wimauma CDC and others, the group has been working to expand educational opportunities for children of all ages and their families.

Wholesome also is moving forward with plans for the health center to provide chronic care, behavioral and mental health services. A practicing nurse, Irizarry, plans to work at the center.

“We don’t have a timeline to open,” he says. “We just want to take one step at a time.”


Multicultural Family Day shares wealth of varied cultures

The world is a diverse place, but it also is vast. Hindered by limited experiences, people may be lulled into stereotypical beliefs that cause division. Richedean Hills-Ackbar is working to change that.

An African-American from a very culturally diverse family, which includes a variety of Hispanic cultures and Japanese, Hills-Ackbar has decided to share the richness of cultural diversity with the public June 25 at Tampa’s Water Works Park.

The occasion? Multicultural Family Day.

“It’s really to break down these barriers that people have gotten from just watching TV,” Hills-Ackbar explains.

Organized by the Taste of East Tampa, founded by Caregiver’s Helping Hand and Central Florida Community Planning and Development, Multicultural Family Day is a free event catering to the entire family. Activities are slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; visitors can come by car or ride a water taxi.

The event features a Kid Zone, sponsored by Sunshine Health, where there will be face painting, henna tattoos and a splash pad, plus an art contest with $200, $100 and $50 prizes sponsored by Molina Healthcare. The winners will be announced at 3 p.m. Mexican girls aged 5 to 12 will share their cultural dances as well.

A special section is being set up to accommodate wheelchairs.

Even pets are welcome. “Water Works Park has a dog park there,” says Hills-Ackbar, Founder of Caregiver’s Helping Hand.

Music includes reggae and a Spanish band that will play a variety of different styles. “If you like to dance, that’ll be great,” she says.

She also is planning a Chinese dragon dance and seeking people who want to learn it.

Vendors will sell different types of cuisine including Thai, Mediterranean, Japanese fusion and the typical American foods like hamburgers and hot dogs.

Although this is the first Multicultural Family Day, there was a multicultural evening event last August at Pepin’s Hospitality Centre. The initial idea came about two years ago.

“We share everything, the experiences the food and everything like that,” she says of her family. I thought other people could enjoy that same experience.”

In the end, she hopes others will learn to appreciate other cultures without trying to change them. “What I’m trying to build on is like a mini world,” she explains, “so that people can mix together and see.”


Got $5? $10? $25? Save it for Give Day Tampa Bay online fund drive May 2nd

Members of Tampa Bay Area nonprofits and local business leaders are planning the fourth annual Give Day Tampa Bay online fundraising effort for May 2.

The one-day event is designed to cultivate new donors and encourage local Tampa Bay Area residents to make small donations to local charities and other nonprofit missions they choose to support. 

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay hosted the announcement of Give Day Tampa Bay at WEDU Studios on Feb. 15. 

The CFTB helps “donors grow, manage and direct their charitable giving,” while also working with nonprofits to understand their needs, making them something akin to being a matchmaker between donors and nonprofit organizations. 

Wilma Norton, VP of Marketing and Communications for the CFTB, who jokingly dubbed herself the Give Day Czar, spoke to the crowd of nonprofit leaders about the importance of communications between not only nonprofits and the community, but also between the nonprofits themselves.

“This is a truly good marketing opportunity for all of you. It’s about raising money, but a big part of it is about raising awareness of all the great work that you do. …It’s upon all of us to be creative and talk to each other and talk about what we do.” 

For 24 hours on May 2, people can log on to Give Day Tampa Bay’s website to make donations, and for eight hours that day WEDU will live stream programming in which nonprofit spokespersons can tell the stories and missions of their organizations.  

“It’s those stories that touch people’s hearts that have them open their wallets and their own hearts to help your cause,” says Norton. 

While more than 200 nonprofits have already signed up to participate in Give Day, organizers expect many more to continue to register. Last year 595 nonprofits earned nearly $2.1million collectively. 

One change this year will be the minimum donation allowed. In the past, the least a person could donate was $25, but in an effort to include more people, the new minimum to donate will be $5. 

“It’s a chance for everyone to be engaged, and that’s really a big part of what this is all about,” says Norton.  

Got a big idea for a social enterprise? Community Foundation of Tampa Bay might fund it

Because it’s virtually impossible for local donors alone to meet the financial needs of nonprofits serving people in need, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is holding its second Big Idea Grant competition, offering up to $50,000 to nonprofits who pitch the best ideas for either a new social enterprise for their organization or by expanding something they’re already doing. 

The goal of nonprofit social enterprise is to help these organizations become sustainable by relying less on charity and more on self-sufficiency to earn the money necessary to continue to do the good works that they do. 

The caveat, though, is that in order to win, nonprofits must find organizations that are similar to their own in mission, and work together to create a business plan with a clear road to sustained profitability. 

In 2015 the Big Idea Grant participants came up with so many innovative and creative ideas for collaborations that two more donors came forward with $50,000 each so that three different collaborating nonprofit groups were able to move forward with their initiatives. 

One of 2015’s winners, My Mobile Market was a partnership between Feeding Tampa Bay, Suncoast Goodwill and Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally to supply low-income neighborhoods with a pop-up grocery story, supplying affordable, healthy fresh food items like fruits and veggies, and non-perishable staples like beans and rice and peanut butter. 

Matt Spence, CFTB’s VP of Community Impact, says that one of the key ingredients that comprises nonprofit success is allowing a nonprofit to concentrate on what they are already doing well. In partnering with other groups that are doing a similar service but may have more experience with a different aspect of the same mission, these collaborations mean bigger and better results for all involved. 

My Mobile Market is an example of why that works. 

“Feeding Tampa Bay understands food and nutrition and distribution and they do those things extremely well,” says Spence. “What they don’t have experience with, and what Goodwill brought to the table, was in the job training aspect of it, so Goodwill was working with their adult clients to help build job skills and those are the people who man the trucks, who drive it, who sell the food. Those are all Goodwill employees. It’s a way to to connect to different areas of expertise while still allowing the nonprofits do what they do well.”

The deadline for submissions to win the Big Idea Grant is March 3. 

Collaborative arts project in University area neighborhood wins 1st placemaking grant

University Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) has been awarded a grant of $30,000 as part of the Tampa-based Gobioff Foundation’s Treasure Tampa (T²) initiative. The grant will facilitate community-led public art installations, called Art in the Park, to be integrated into the Harvest Hope Park. The groundbreaking for the park will launch March 8, 2017 and more specific plans for the public art will be announced at that time.   

“Public art is key, allowing residents not just creative placemaking but building a community while doing so,” says Sarah Combs, CEO and Executive Director of University Area CDC

The art installations will be a joint effort with residents and artists at the park working together on the concept and rollout. The local artists involved -- Junior Polo, Vivian Fisk, Marisol Vazquez -- also residents of the University Area, will work with the community to determine the final plan and design.  

The University Area is “a very transient community, but very culturally diverse,” says Combs. She says it is important that “the art chosen is a representation of the diversity” and hopes the public art will contribute to transforming the neighborhood from a “place they stay, to a place they call home.”

The Harvest Hope Park will be a 7-acre park in the heart of the University Area with a multipurpose sports area, a tilapia pond for fishing, community garden, teaching kitchen, playground, and the public art made possible by the Gobioff grant. 

“The vision we have for this park is not only for residents to enjoy, but to meet each other, know their neighbors, build those relationships,” says Combs “Art is just so essential to this. Studies show it is tied to social economic status in terms of improvement,” she continues, noting that there is no public art in the area nor playgrounds. The CDC’s mission and vision is to improve the area through a number of improvements -- infrastructure, education, after-school programming, etc. -- creating a collaborative network of support, advanced by and led by residents. 

The Gobioff Foundation's Tampa Treasure (T²) facilitates creative placemaking in Tampa through education, collaboration and funding. T² is an initiative of the Gobioff Foundation, a private family foundation which supports the Tampa arts community as well as human rights organizations nationally and globally. This was the first competitive grant awarded by the Tampa Treasure initiative.

As part of the grant award, the University Area CDC will partner with WMNF-FM to produce resident engagement events as part of its Urban Cafe´ segment and 83 Degrees Media will produce feature stories about the project. 

For Good: AT&T employee donates winnings to local hospital’s new distracted driving class

When you hear the acronym DD, you probably think of a designated driver, or maybe you think of drunk driving, but those two letters have another meaning in today’s fast paced and uber-communicative culture.

Distracted Driving is an ongoing problem, the cause of 45,740 car crashes in 2015 in Florida alone, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and it’s about more than just texting: Chiming in on social media, taking car selfies, video chatting or finding that perfect song somewhere in your itunes playlist all mean you’re distracted, and that’s when accidents happen. 

In an effort to reinforce the importance of paying attention to the road and your surroundings while driving, a group of like-minded organizations and one driven AT&T employee recently came together to try to make a change. 

Thanks to two challenges AT&T gives to its employees every year, the Director of AT&T Wireline Regional Infrastructure, Regina Ennis, dedicated herself to raising awareness and educating her community about distracted driving for the “Do One Thing” Challenge. 

She continued her mission during the follow up challenge called “It Can Wait, 16 in 16” challenge in which employees were encouraged to get friends and family to sign the “AT&T It Can Wait” pledge, which reminds people that “distracted driving is never okay.” 

AT&T Spokesperson Karen McAllister says that they have had over 14 million people take the “It Can Wait” Pledge since they started in in 2010.

“We find that there is power in a pledge. Once people take that pledge they are committed to not driving distracted,” she says. 

Ennis got almost 400 people to take the pledge in 2016, and for her efforts she won $2,500 to give to an organization that already had a distracted driving program in place.  

Ennis lived in Orlando for many years before moving to her current home in White Plains, NY, so she was aware of the Bradenton-based Mark Wandall Foundation an organization founded in by Wandall’s widow, Melissa, after he was killed by a red light runner only a couple of weeks before their child was born. The Foundation works to help grieving children who have lost family members or guardians. 

While the Mark Wandall Foundation doesn’t offer a distracted driving class, Founder Melissa Wandall knew who did. 

In mid-January, Ennis, along with Wandall, and Ed Narain, regional director at AT&T, presented the $2,500 winnings to Johns Hopkins All Childrens Hospital in St. Petersburg, where they lead the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition.The money will go toward funding a class for teens and new parents about the dangers of distracted driving, and ways to avoid becoming another statistic because of it. 

For more information about the class, call the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS c/o Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital at 727-767-8581 or 800-756-7233.

For Good: Tampa Bay Builders make 1,000 PB&Js for homeless

Members of The Tampa Bay Builders Association will be rolling up their sleeves and donning gloves and hairnets this Wednesday to make 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. 

The TBBA is contributing to the mission of GRAB Tomorrow, a nonprofit for young professionals who set a goal of providing 25,000 PB&Js this year to the homeless in the Tampa Bay area.  

Jennifer Doerfel, Executive VP of the TBBA, says that while the construction industry is already a very philanthropic industry, the majority of their works naturally involve building homes for the needy, or donating materials and labor. 

Still, they are always open to opportunities to help the community in more immediate ways. When their sales and marketing team found this simple and important cause to contribute to, members of the TBBA were all in.   

“When we heard about this opportunity -- it was easy, and it would serve many purposes,” says Doerfel. “It serves as a team building experience and it’s very social in nature. You’re doing something good for someone and you never know when it might be you.” 

About 60 volunteers will work in shifts for six hours in the TBBA’s small 1,000-square- foot office assembling the sandwiches, which will then be distributed to the homeless by GRAB Tomorrow members. 

“It goes back to the underlying philosophy of the construction industry regardless of where you fall into the construction industry, whether you’re a home builder yourself or an engineer, a roofer, a carpenter or a plumber, this industry is really a wide cross section of professionals that are hands-on in the community building the American dream of home ownership, so we are acutely aware of the needs in the community and whenever possible we take a proactive role in solving the problems that we face,” says Doerfel.  

The National Association of Home Builders has recognized the Tampa Bay Builders Association four times with the Silver Award for their exemplary efforts in philanthropy, education and professional development but this last year they received the Gold Award, the highest recognition from the NAHB for giving back to the community.

For Good: Children’s Board of Hillsborough County seeks applicants for $10.8M in grant funds

The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County is offering $10.8 million in grant money to organizations that meet the criteria the board has set in place to ensure that children are healthy and safe, developmentally on track, ready to learn, and are in supported and supportive families. 

The CBHC releases this grant money every five years, so while some organizations may reapply and continue receiving funding, new entities also have an opportunity to secure grants as a new source of revenue.  

“We like to take another look at what the community needs, what new providers may have come into the area, and our goal of course is to fund the very best programs and services for the citizens of Hillsborough County,” says Paula Scott, Director of PR at the Children's Board

A special Leading Grant of up to $250,000 will be awarded to organizations that provide high quality summer programs for children, including making sure the program includes things like art and literature, and STEM and safety education. 

Another Uniting Grant of up to $250,000 will go to fund programs that provide training to early childhood educators on social-emotional learning. The CBHC specifically is looking to fund organizations who have both the administration and the programs in place that can train teachers to instill Conscious Discipline in the children, meaning that when they start Kindergarten children are prepared.

“It’s important that they enter Kindergarten ready to go, that they’re able to handle their emotions, that they’re able to regroup if something upsets them,” says Scott. “That’s all that Conscious Discipline and trying to give the providers the tools to handle those children, and also putting into those children the tools that they need to be successful once they enter the Kindergarten environment.” 

The grant money is open to non-profits and for-profits, but groups must meet very specific guidelines, which are outlined on the CBHC website. Scott says it’s crucial to read the Request for Proposal or RFP capacity checklist page to learn if organizations have the internal capacity to handle a grant from the Children’s Board.

Applicants can apply from now through March 2017. 

Once grants are awarded, the CBHC continues to closely monitor how the funds are used in order to ensure that the children are gaining the maximum benefits. 

“Our grants are wonderful in that we make sure if we’re investing county taxpayer dollars that there is a definite positive outcome on those folks that they’re working with and the children and families,” Scott says.
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