Hendry County students from Ms. Akin's class visit the Sanibel Causeway to learn about seagrass ecosystems. 

Hendry County students from Ms. Akin's class visit the Sanibel Causeway to learn about seagrass ecosystems. 

Sanibel Sea School received a Community Impact Grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation that will make it possible for more Hendry County students to experience the ocean in 2017. Participants will visit Sanibel each month to take part in field-based marine science lessons, which will be developed in close partnership with teachers to support their classroom curriculum.

“It is easy to take our proximity to the ocean for granted in Southwest Florida,” said Sanibel Sea School’s Director of Education, Nicole Finnicum, “but there are plenty of families that, for mostly economic reasons, are unable to visit the coast on a regular basis. Many of the students we work with from Hendry County have only been to the beach once or twice, and most have never had a formal ocean learning experience.” Both Finnicum and Executive Director Dr. Bruce Neill expressed gratitude for the Community Foundation’s support. “This grant makes it possible for us to spend less time fundraising and more time in the water with kids, focusing on our mission,” said Neill.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. The organization offers field-based educational experiences including day programs, camps, and expeditions for children and adults, and has a robust scholarship program to ensure that financial circumstances never prohibit an individual from attending. In 2016, Sanibel Sea School provided more than 1,100 scholarship days to students in need. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org.

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. Last year, the Foundation partnered with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the foundation has invested $5 million this year in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.