Leadership and investment can deliver a bold vision for the Tampa Bay region
5 mins read

Leadership and investment can deliver a bold vision for the Tampa Bay region

By Marlene Spalten, President and CEO, Community Foundation Tampa Bay

Imagine this: A thriving Tampa Bay community where every person has equitable access to opportunity and prosperity.

This is the Tampa Bay Community Foundation’s bold vision for our region, a vision we share with others who care about the long-term growth and development of this region. It is achievable if all facets of Tampa Bay work together with focus and dedication.

The Tampa Bay Community Foundation, our more than 1,300 funders and our diverse set of partners in business, government, education and philanthropy are committed to using our vast resources – our best thinking, our relationships, our passion and, yes, our money – to build our vision.

Over the past three years, we have awarded more than $127 million to over 1,500 nonprofit organizations. We also hold more than $850 million that is invested for future giving.

Beyond monetary investment, we built coalitions to solve complex problems and leveraged our relationships to make change happen.

We are growing to meet the needs of the community and we are here to stay.

How can we exploit economic opportunities?

Education is key. Access to diverse educational options is the path to prosperity. That’s why we devote so much of our funding and intellectual energy to education.

When people have access to quality education and training, they have the building blocks they need for economic mobility. The Community Foundation and its funders make substantial philanthropic investments to improve educational opportunities, from early childhood to college, career certifications, and technical training.

Financial resources are important, but it’s people who make change happen. Community Foundation Tampa Bay brings together stakeholders who harness the power of collaboration to drive meaningful change.

For example, Community Foundation Tampa Bay plays a key role in Thrive by Five, a diverse network that promotes programs and policies to prepare children for kindergarten. Investing in early cognitive, physical, social and emotional development has a long-term impact. Children who are “ready” for kindergarten thrive throughout their school years and are prepared for lifelong success.

Similarly, the Community Foundation supports access to and success in education and training beyond high school. We are a founding partner of the LEAP Tampa Bay and Spark Pasco Hernando college access networks. These networks, which bring together leaders in business, government, education and philanthropy, connect residents with resources that help them access and complete college or other training.

The need for support and assistance does not end when an adult enters the classroom.

Students often need financial help beyond traditional financial aid. And they may need guidance and reassurance. Community Foundation Tampa Bay and its partners are here to fill those gaps.

Donors have stepped forward to invest. More than 400 students each year receive $1.4 million in scholarships from funds held by Community Foundation Tampa Bay. They attend colleges, universities and training centers here and across the country. Ideally, they will use their skills and talents in our region.

When we invest in education, individuals and the community both benefit. Every degree or certification adds to a person’s long-term earning potential and economic stability. And every well-trained and educated resident brings a skilled and diverse workforce to our region to fuel our overall economy and growth.

The Tampa Bay Community Foundation cannot and does not do its work alone.

We bring together hundreds of donors, thousands of nonprofits, and countless business and community leaders. And we always need more partners, thought leaders, philanthropists, and friends to realize our collective vision of what the Tampa Bay region can and should be.

How can you get involved?

  • Open a charity fund. Make strategic charitable investments by becoming a fundholder with Community Foundation Tampa Bay. Build the fund and distribute gifts when the time is right. And if you’d like guidance on how to make the most effective investments in our community, our philanthropy team is here to help.
  • Start a scholarship. Individuals, families, community groups, businesses and other foundations can establish scholarships administered by the Community Foundation Tampa Bay.
  • Explore charitable giving opportunities for your business. Help our community and receive tax benefits through a variety of charitable giving options. Our staff works with businesses and entrepreneurs to customize their giving strategies, whether it’s a simple corporate giving fund or a complex gift of business interests prior to a sale.

Together, we can make the region a shining example of what all Florida communities can aspire to.

Marlene Spalten

Marlene Spalten is president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Community Foundation.