The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is a leading advocate for exceptional public education for all students in Sarasota County. The Foundation raises nearly $1 million each year, most of which is disbursed through grants in the amount of $500-$1,000 (and in some cases more) that allows elementary, middle, and high school teachers to offer programs that school budgets are unable to cover. Additionally, the Foundation offers individual scholarships to high school seniors.

Teachers in Sarasota County submit proposals for these grants, describing in detail what programs and projects the funds would support. From there, proposals are read by numerous people within the community, gathering input from a number of varied sources, and searching for the most unique, creative, and motivating ideas.

Resident Jerry Kaplan has been involved with the Education Foundation for nearly 20 years. Six of which he spent on the board, where he served alongside Jon F. Swift, a current member of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees. Susan Scott, former executive director of the Education Foundation, previously served on the Plymouth Harbor board as well.

Today, Jerry spends much of his time evaluating programs and grant proposals. Not only does he himself evaluate grant proposals, but he also asks fellow residents for input. “This is a great way to bring in the entire community,” Jerry says. “We take a lot of opinions on these proposals, and use them to help identify the best programs for our kids.”

In addition to grants, the Education Foundation financially supports the PALS School Volunteer Program, the annual science fair, and the Teacher of the Year program for each individual school and Sarasota County. Another unique program the Foundation supports is the collection and repair of used electronics. Banks, insurance companies, individuals, and even our very own residents of Plymouth Harbor have donated old or unused computers, which are then repaired and given to families in need, at no cost. With an educational system that continually relies on smart technology and internet-related studies, this is a huge gift for many families.

The Education Foundation operates solely off donations from members of the community and relies on special events to raise these funds. One such event, the Evening of Excellence, is an innovative art program and an established Sarasota social event, combining an elegant dinner with an auction showcasing the talents of high school artists. The event raises over $300,000 each year, benefiting more than 40,000 students through the work of the Education Foundation.

To learn more about the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, visit the following website: www.sarasotacountyschools.net/educationfoundation/