The fruits of the labor from this year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival auction were celebrated in March when the Naples Children & Education Foundation, the festival’s founding organization, allocated a record $25.6 million to nearly 50 nonprofit organizations supporting underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County.
This community investment from the 23rd annual event includes funding traditional grants of $6.8 million and $11.6 million for NCEF multi-year strategic initiatives that fill fundamental gaps in local children’s services, plus another $7.1 million in funding for future grants and strategic initiatives. Since its inaugural event in 2001, the wine festival has raised about $269 million, providing more than 300,000 children with services and resources.
“We are fortunate enough to be able to contribute a record amount of money to the charities that we are supporting,” said 2022-23 NCEF Grant Committee Chair Harry Rose at the annual grant awards ceremony and reception March 20 under the tent at the Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburon. “You all represent something that is very, very special. You are at the top 12% of all the charities in Collier County. We’re very proud of that and we’re proud of what you do.”
This year, 39 organizations received traditional grants, in addition to 10 more agencies that help fill critical needs in the community by taking part in NCEF’s strategic initiatives focusing on the holistic well-being of children. Initiatives receiving funding include early learning, health care, hunger, out-of-school time and mental health care.
“The primary reason we are here today is to celebrate all of the organizations who day in and day out provide the critical programs and services for the children—the at-risk children and underprivileged children—of Collier County,” said Valerie Boyd, the 2023 NCEF board chairman. “We celebrate you. We honor you. We are grateful for all the hard work you do, because the mission of NCEF is to make a profound difference in the lives of at-risk children in Collier County. It could not happen without you, and we are grateful for you every single day.”
NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community one issue at a time. Each NCEF beneficiary is fully vetted, Rose said, noting that each of the 11 members of the grant committee is assigned three or four charities to work with for a year.
“It includes reviewing their application, the grant, the summary of the grant, the financials, the history—and they’re charged with ensuring that the request and the grant is really in the best interest of what we’re trying to do. And it represents collaboration. We want you to use each other to become very effective at what you do,” he said. “The grant committee meets many times from October to February, and they are very, very committed to ensuring that the funds that are raised under the tent are raised and donated to the right charity.”
NCEF GRANT AWARDS
The local organizations benefiting from traditional grants for 2023-24 and their dollar amounts, which totaled $6,841,220:
ABLE Academy, $180,000
Avow Hospice, $105,000
Better Together, $180,000
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, $90,000
Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, $450,000
Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, $75,000
Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice, $286,000
Champions For Learning, $200,000
Child’s Path, $200,000
Children’s Advocacy Center, $545,520
Conservancy of Southwest Florida, $150,000
Educational Pathways Academy, $75,000
First Tee, $75,000
Friends of Foster Children Forever, $389,500
Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, $236,000
Gargiulo Education Center, $115,000
Grace Place for Children and Families, $375,000
Healthy Start Coalition of Southwest Florida, $40,000
Leadership Collier Foundation, $60,000
Legal Aid Service of Collier County, $600,000
Literacy Volunteers of Collier County, $85,000
Midwest Food Bank of Florida, $50,000
MusicScores Violin, $50,000
Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, $249,000
NCH Healthcare System, $81,000
NCH Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition of Collier County, $50,000
Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, $70,000
PACE Center for Girls, $100,000
Pan-Florida Challenge, $56,700
Special Olympics, $102,500
St. Matthew’s House, $75,000
STARability Foundation, $80,000
Taste the Impact, $100,000
The Salvation Army of Collier County, $75,000
The Shelter for Abused Women & Children, $150,000
United Arts Collier, $40,000
Valerie’s House, $200,000
YMCA of Collier County, $400,000
Youth Haven, $400,000
Here are the “Blueprint Partners” organizations with the NCEF multi-year award totals for each strategic initiative, which totaled $11,598,000 for all initiatives.
Early Learning ($3,930,000): ABLE Academy, Early Learning Coalition of SWFL, Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation, Early Literacy & Learning Model (ELLM), Guadalupe Center, Pathways Early Education Center of Immokalee and Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA).
Health care ($800,000): FSU College of Medicine, NCH Healthcare System and University of Florida.
Hunger ($3,295,000): Brighter Bites, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida and Meals of Hope.
Out-of-School Time ($2,073,000): Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, Guadalupe Center, RCMA and The Immokalee Foundation.
Special Projects ($1,500,000): Capacity Building and “Beautiful Minds,” an NCEF mental health initiative.