Our Causes

Support and Study, Study and Support

Over the years we’ve worked on virtually every issue that intersects with the community. Like many community foundations, we’ve collected quite an array of names for our different campaigns, funds, and programs. Human beings like to name things, right? “This Impact Fund,” “That Community Grant Program,” etc. But the mountain of names that stack up over time can get confusing to an outsider. Following in alphabetical order are some of the major areas in which we’ve done important work and made significant grants, or gauges that we monitor by tracking status and progress against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They’ve all helped bring us to this point. Each has been like a laboratory that has given us the confidence to say, “Let’s solve all of these problems. On an audacious deadline.” We’d be happy to speak to you in greater depth about any one of them.

*Asterisks represent an area in which we track status in accordance with a specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.


Are we safeguarding bio-diversity? Do we value all life? What we track: threatened species, habitat conservation and connectivity, invasive species management, ethical treatment of animals (domestic animals surrendered, animal cruelty charges).

Arts and Culture*

Museums, musicians, painters and poets, and most of what lives in between. Symphony, theater, block parties, human connection and many other things that help to define our values as a community. What we track: things like how many creative industries we have, event attendance, community cohesion, volunteerism, access to venues, diversity of hiring and events, historic preservation and senior citizen satisfaction.

Bonita Springs

Bonita Springs is known for its beaches, sand dunes, parks and a lively arts scene. Our Bonita Springs Community Fund has supported its locally specific organizations working to improve quality of life for its citizens across a wide array of important needs.

Capacity of Nonprofits

We’ve supported the hiring of capacity coaches to help nonprofits with strategic planning, board development, financial management, outcome evaluation, fundraising, marketing, and organizational restructuring and mergers.

Children’s Mental Health

We have partnered with Southwest Florida Children’s Charities. They are a Collaboratory tenant. Their wine festival is one of the top-grossing events of its kind in the country. As a result of its success, they’ve been able to grant over $21.6 million to local pediatric health care initiatives over the past ten years. We also partner with Healthy Lee to support their behavioral and mental health initiatives.

Climate Change*

Are we reducing harm to the earth’s climate and making our use of energy resources more efficient? What we track: climate resilience, greenhouse gas mitigation, green vehicle infrastructure, electrical energy supply, energy use, heat island mitigation distribution, domestic water use per capita, local government greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and water conservation, total solid waste and recycling rates.

Community Design*

How livable is it here — for everyone? What we track: population density, transit, walkability, design, housing affordability, the condition of our existing infrastructure, infill development, public parkland per resident, proximity of housing to parks and trails, transportation choice, affordability and safety of transportation and vehicle miles traveled, drinking water quality, water footprint and management, ambient noise and light, as well as light in the night sky.

Economic Hardship

Our Good Samaritan Fund was set up to help those going through difficult times with one-time grants. We’ve partnered with the United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades to deploy the assistance. Additionally, we stand up and manage Disaster Relief  and Resilience Funds when a disaster impacts our community.

Economy and Jobs*

Are we working toward shared prosperity? What we track: business retention and development (how many businesses do we have? What’s the employment rate? Is employment equitable?), green market development (greenhouse gas emissions against GDP, LEED certifications, and renewable power supply), the local economy (self-reliance, bank deposits, small business development), job and wage quality (median income and income inequality, the prevalence of living wages), targeted industry development and employment, based on what we call “Economic Cluster Mapping.” Our FutureMakers initiative, described under education, is equally a workforce initiative aimed at the economy and jobs.


It’s the path to economic mobility and community prosperity. Are we supporting the equitable attainment of quality education? We have a significant scholarship program. We also created a program we call “FutureMakers” — a very large collective impact initiative to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications and other high-quality credentials to 55%. You can learn more about our efforts by visiting the Scholarships or the FutureMakers section of this website. What we track: reading proficiency, reading proficiency equity, graduation rates, and graduation rate equity.


How is our agricultural land doing? What about our natural resources? What we track: green stormwater infrastructure (e.g. bioswales, rain gardens, and wetlands, etc. that help to prevent flooding, provide groundwater recharge), green infrastructure distribution, threatened species, conservation, invasive species management, natural resource area, wetlands, streams and shoreline buffers, connectivity, restoration, outdoor air quality (concentration and emissions of criteria air pollutants, risk from hazardous air pollutants), watershed health index, watershed usability, protection of the working lands and presence of certified management practices.

Equity & Empowerment*

Is it fair here? Does everyone get an equal shot? Do people feel included? What we track: voter turnout, diversity of representation, civil and human rights, risk and exposure to environmental hazards, equitable access to services, services for the homeless, mental health and substance abuse services, and services for children and the aging who may be abused or neglected.

Health and Safety*

Are we healthy? Is it safe here? What we track: physically active adults and kids, quality of life health indicators, health behaviors (like rates of smoking, drinking, etc.), indoor air quality (including in schools), the quality of emergency management and response, access to food and assistance (including in schools), quality of local hospitals, clinical care and health departments, hazard mitigation, school violence and crime rates.


We’ve supported legal services, community outreach with webinars and door-knocking efforts, the hiring of new staff to serve refugees, advocacy training, leadership training and more.

LGBTQ+ Issues

Along with community advocates, we established the first LGBTQ+ Fund in Southwest Florida.  We have supported research efforts and healthcare by LGBTQ+ seniors.

Philanthropy and Community Trust*

We’re trying to get more people giving and engaged, and seizing opportunities for cross-sector partnerships, such as between businesses and nonprofits. What we track: regional leadership (are there more cross-sector partnerships? Is expertise being shared?), donor and our own intent, and responsible investing.

Women’s Issues

Each year our Women’s Legacy Fund Contributors and Prima Donors makes a grant of $20,000—$30,000 to an outstanding organization committed to the empowerment of women, most recently focusing on educational attainment for women and girls.

Hi, I’m Sarah Owen, CEO. I’d love to have a serious conversation about how Collaboratory and this audacious initiative we’re undertaking could become part of your life’s legacy. Join an Explanation Session to learn more.