Since the ’08-’09 financial crisis, it has been astounding to watch as investment pours into Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee region. Construction cranes dot the skyline, new housing developments expand beyond the interstate while regional unemployment remains at historic lows.
But the increase in economic activity on the Gulf Coast has not necessarily translated into larger paychecks or brighter futures for thousands of the area’s working families. Sarasota newspaper, The Herald Tribune, reported that, “As of mid-October last year, 47% of students in Sarasota County school district were on a free or reduced lunch plan. In 2017 that number was 54%.” Of the 40,000+ students in Sarasota County schools, 20,000 come from families who are unable to afford a few dollars per day for lunch. Confirming this dynamic is the United Way of Florida’s 2018 ALICE Report: 43% of families in the Central West Coast of Florida region are what the United Way calls– Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed who do not earn enough to cover the basic necessities of life—housing, childcare, transportation, food, necessary technology.
Fortunately, organizations like Children First are working tirelessly to deploy a two-generational approach to ensure families with children from six weeks old to five years are positioned for success.
Last week, Matt McAleer, Executive Vice President & Director of Equity Strategies and Gabriel Hament, Investment Advisor Representative specializing in Charitable Accounts, Foundations and Private Individuals had the opportunity to visit the Sarasota, Florida Children First campus on North Orange Ave and learn more about the life-changing work taking place at the organization. Every child at Children First benefits from year-round early childhood education, structured play and two nutritious meals per day. Each parent is assigned a Family Advocate to assist with familial dynamics, employment, money management and parenting strategies—all to encourage a home environment conducive to self sufficiency and long-term financial sustainability. A few statistics:
• While 700 children are served every year at Children First, over 160 children are currently on a wait list.
• In the 2018/2019 school year 171,936 meals and snacks were served. This accounted for over 50% of each child’s weekly nutrition.
• 72% of Children First parents are working or going to school.
• 8% of Children First families are homeless.
We encourage you to learn more about Children First by watching a short video here or visiting their website at https://www.childrenfirst.net/about-us/. For assistance with facilitating a contribution from your donor-advised fund, please contact Gabriel Hament at (800) 257-7013.
“When a family walks in the door for the first time it’s very exciting because it’s the beginning of a new chapter in the story of their lives.” –Kwame Alexander, Family Advocate
Investment Advisor Representative
Foundations, Charitable Accounts & Private Individuals
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