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Sustainability : For Good

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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. 

For Good: Seafood processing plant wins Gulf Coast Community Foundation incentive grant

A proposal to create a state-of-the-art seafood processing and distribution plant in Manatee County claimed the top prize on Monday in the inaugural Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge. The winning project “Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast: Sustainable Seafood System” was chosen from a pool of more than 30 proposals in the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s first ever incentive-grant competition intended to stimulate Florida’s Blue Economy.

The Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast team is comprised of nonprofit and private partners, including the Sarasota-based natural and sustainable foods business Healthy Earth, scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory, the Cortez fishing community and the Chiles Group, a Sarasota-Manatee restaurant group that champions seafood sustainability. 

“What we have is a commodity-based model, but what we need is an asset value based model. We’re currently selling great, wild, organic healthy seafood as a commodity -- and we undervalue our heritage resource,” Chiles Group CEO Ed Chiles explained in a September interview with 83 Degrees.

Chiles says that Manatee County’s “heritage resource” -- gray-striped mullet -- currently leaves the region at approximately $10 per pound and is typically processed overseas before returning to the United States as a salted and cured delicacy known as bottarga, which retails at up to $200 per pound. 

“All the value-added steps are being captured elsewhere on our product,” Chiles says. “We need a state-of-the-art facility so that we can capture the hierarchy of value with that mullet here in Manatee County.”

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation awarded Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast a $25,000 grant to develop its business prototype when the team advanced to the Challenge finalist stage in July. Healthy-Earth Gulf Coast will now receive an additional $375,000 in grant funding to pursue its plans for a value-added processing plant in Manatee County, which the team proposes will create new economic opportunities and revitalize the region’s heritage fishing community.

In addition to the construction of a multifaceted processing facility, Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast seeks to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification to strengthen a sustainable local Blue Economy centered on mullet, and eventually other locally sourced seafood.

“The problem with aquaculture in the U.S. is that we are grossly behind the rest of the world. The total world aquaculture market in 2014 was $147 billion, and the U.S. accounted for only 1.4 percent of that. We have an $11 billion trade deficit in seafood,” says Healthy Earth CEO Chris Cogan.

“The only aquaculture that exists in the U.S. are ‘Mom and Pop’ farms. They can grow it just fine, but the problem is they can’t do anything with it. Without the proper facilities, they can’t process it and prepare it in such a way that places like Publix or Whole Foods are willing to buy it wholesale. … Everything we do, we want to do sustainably -- whether that’s farm-raising fish, or making a more sustainable market for wild-caught fish, as is the case with grey striped mullet,” Cogan says.

The winning team was chosen by a panel of local business, investment and technology experts who reviewed the five finalists’ proposals and advised the Gulf Coast Community Foundation Board of Directors in the final decision.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation launched the $500,000 incentive-grant challenge in February. Of the more than 30 teams that applied to the competition, five were awarded $25,000 apiece in July to create their prototypes. All of the original challengers’ submissions, including short videos of their proposals, remain available online at the GCCF website.

For Good: Beverage association offers grant money to nonprofits

In an effort to promote health and wellness in the community, the Florida Beverage Association (FBA) is launching a grant program that will help fund nonprofits that encourage nutrition, physical activity, health and wellness, as well as environmental sustainability programs.
 
The FBA is made up of several beverage companies including Dr. Pepper, Snapple, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co. and Nestle Water. 
 
“We want people to know that we care about the communities we serve, and where our employees live, work and play and ensure they are healthy and environmentally sustainable,” says Liz Castro-DeWitt, executive director of the Florida Beverage Association.
 
To be considered for the grant, nonprofits must be a 501(c)(3) charitable organization or a state or local governmental entity and meet the requirements the FBA has listed on their website.
 
Castro-DeWitt says FBA grants may also be eligible for consideration for matching grants from the American Foundation for a Healthy America.
 
As far as who should apply, Castro-DeWitt says accredited nonprofits that meet the requirements are welcome.
 
“We are looking for people with innovative ideas from how an individual or group introduced recycling to their community, to fitness camps in community parks to something we have never even thought of or heard of before,” she says. “This is the first year we are doing the grant program, so we are very excited about it, and excited to see what people come up with.”
 
Grant applications need to be submitted by October 15, 2015. All applications will be reviewed by the FBA grant subcommittee. Grant recipients will be selected and notified by the FBA Board of Directors by December 31, 2015. To learn more about how to apply, or to get an application visit the FBA website.

For Good: Recycled bike shop wins $1,000 Awesome Tampa Bay grant

$1,000 to the most innovative idea? Four times a year, Tampa Bay residents have the chance to apply for just that.

Awesome Tampa Bay grants are something like mini-angel investors in innovative local ideas. The self-funded community of members who make up Awesome Tampa Bay offer quarterly microgrants in the sum of $1,000 to various projects or proposed ventures with no strings attached.

The group, a chapter of The Awesome Foundation, “funds projects that help make our community an awesome place to live,” says Awesome Tampa Bay’s “Dean of Awesomeness” Rafaela A. Amador. “We’re in our fourth year of grant-making, and it’s been fantastic to see them come to life.”

Previous Awesome Tampa Bay grants have funded Pong in the ParkArt Vending Machine, The Birdhouse Buying Club, and other ideas or efforts to improve the “awesome” factor of the Tampa Bay area.

The latest recipient of a $1,000 grant from the group is the ReCycle Bin, a free bike shop built from entirely recycled parts and filled with entirely donated ones.

ReCycle Bin “touched on three qualities that the Awesome Foundation trustees thought most important: niceness, bigness and 'wow-ness,' ” says Amador, who is the senior director of corporate communications for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The ReCycle Bin operates out of two revamped shipping containers built by volunteers and is “full of donated frames, parts, and tools that are used to build and fix bicycles for our poor neighbors,” explains founder Jessica Renner.

But the ReCycle Bin doesn’t give bikes or parts away freely with no questions asked, Renner explains. Rather, self-reliance and involvement in rebuilding or repairing bicycles is a part of the process.

“Those who are in need of a bike or help with their existing bike are being taught how to build and maintain their bikes themselves,” Renner says.

The ReCycle Bin stations are located at The Well in Ybor City, a center for social services including weekly meals, counseling, a free market, and faith. Work is split among a variety of volunteers: some of whom perform as a labor of love, some who enjoy tinkering with the bikes, and some who “originally came in to build themselves a bike, and now come back to help others,” Renner explains.

That those who have been helped come back to help others is one sign that the ReCycle Bin is a success. The group’s main objective is “to develop relationships across economic divides and build a stronger community, based on sharing skills and resources,” Renner says. 

The passion to help the community through the donation of time and talent by Jessica and all the volunteers with ReCycle Bin was what stood out the most,” Amador explains. “It was a unanimous decision by the trustees to award them the Awesome grant.”

With the $1,000 Awesome Tampa Bay grant money, the ReCycle Bin will “purchase a tent or a carport for our shop, so we will have our own shaded work space,” Renner says. 

Currently, “we are working to gain more volunteers, potentially hold some workshops, and put together a regular bike ride calendar for our bike club, The Well's Angels,” Brenner says.

The Well’s Angels. Now that’s awesome. 
 
Do you have a great idea or project that would help make Tampa Bay more “awesome”? Apply for the next quarterly grant by May 31. 

For Good: Donate online during Give Day Tampa Bay

Can Give Day Tampa Bay top $1 million in donations in 2015?

The inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay brought in just over $1 million for local nonprofits in 2014, and sponsors of the upcoming Give Day Tampa Bay on May 5, 2015, hope to see even more generosity spread throughout the local community during the second annual “24 hours of giving.”

Led by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation, Give Day Tampa Bay challenges locals to participate in a 24-hour online giving event. In 2014, more than 5,000 individuals donated to the inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay campaign to bring awareness to more than 350 nonprofits who do work in the local community. This year, more than 500 nonprofits are participating.

Debra Campbell, an educator and serial entrepreneur with a background in economic development, founded Tampa-based Forward Thinking Initiatives in 2004 with the aim of bridging education and workforce development. The nonprofit’s entrepreneurship programs for middle- and high-school teens aim to create a more competitive emerging workforce through a focus on creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

One of the reasons Campbell chose to get involved with Give Day Tampa Bay is to help raise community awareness about local nonprofits. ““It’s a wonderful concept to promote all the good work that's going on in Tampa Bay,” she says. “I think the community is not aware of the vast number of services and programs available.”

There are dozens of nonprofits available to choose for a donation, including Big Cat Rescue, Tampa Bay Conservancy, Carrollwood Players Theatre, Lights On Tampa, Stageworks Theatre, the Straz Center, and All Children’s Hospital, to name a few. Find the complete list of 543 participating nonprofits at the Give Day Tampa Bay online donation site

Goals of the annual event include enlisting new donors and helping nonprofits learn new online giving and outreach skills. Funds raised can help nonprofits access resources and training that they can then use year-round to promote their work and engage their supporters.

“It’s always difficult for nonprofits to raise dollars, especially unrestricted dollars,” Campbell says. “This is an opportunity for each organization to benefit from a joint marketing program that is so well organized by Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation.”

Give Day Tampa Bay starts at midnight on May 4 and runs for 24 hours. Donations can be completed from any smartphone, tablet or computer using a credit or debit card, with a minimum donation is $25. 

For Good: Local chef challenges Tampa Bay area residents to help the hungry

Hunger is a subject that Cliff Barsi knows well.

He’s the director of food services at Metropolitan Ministries, and affectionately called “Chef Cliff.” Under his direction, the nonprofit has opened two “Inside the Box” cafes in downtown Tampa and the Westshore area that benefit the ministry, and graduated 32 students from its culinary program.

Another 10 students are now earning their chops under his tutelage in Metropolitan Ministries’ state-of-the-art kitchen, made possible by Outback Steakhouse restaurant chain co-founder Bob Basham and a grant from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

He typically prefers to be behind the scenes, helping people break the cycle of poverty by learning how to cook, serve or run a food business. But now he’s stepping up publicly and asking the community to join him in the Empty Plate Challenge.

“Sometimes you have to put yourself is someone else’s shoes to truly understand what they’re going through,” Barsi says.

Here’s how it works: Give up one meal and donate the money you would have spent on that breakfast, dinner or lunch to Metropolitan Ministries. And to take it one step further, make a video of your participation to encourage your friends to do the same, and post it on a social media site. 

He compares the effort to the successful “Ice Bucket Challenge” led by the ALS Association last summer, which raised over $100 million for research toward finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal disorder.

His goal is a more modest $25,000. 

“In the five years I’ve been with this organization, I’ve been amazed just how supportive this community is of all our efforts,” Barsi says. “This challenge doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it really drives the point home.”

Metropolitan Ministries compiled a list of average costs for multiple meals. Six meals, for example, would come to $10.56, 12 meals would cost $21.12 and 20 meals would run  $35.20.

He and his wife chose to fast for an entire day, going to bed hungry that night. Even though he deals with hunger issues on a daily basis, he says that experience made it all the more real to them.

Currently, Metropolitan Ministries feeds 2,300 hungry people every day in the Tampa Bay area. In Barsi’s video, he piled up 2,300 empty plates to illustrate how many meals are made possible due to the generosity of local donors.

With the holidays around the corner, Metropolitan Ministries will be asking for more public support to fill the toy shelves and maintain an amply food supply for the increased demand for assistance. Barsi thinks there’s no better time for the Empty Plate Challenge. 

“A campaign like this has two goals – to raise awareness and to raise funds,” he says. “It’s hard to understand just what hunger feels like until you’ve experienced it yourself. Unfortunately, we have a lot of neighbors in need in our community, and this is one way to have compassion and make a difference in changing that.”
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