J5 Experience is honored to have been featured by Sarasota Magazine on our collaboration with Gulf Coast Community Foundation. We are SO thankful for all of their support that allows us to help our students at J5 Experience be inspired, learn, and grow – year round!

Inspiring Students’ Dreams

By collaborating with local nonprofits, Gulf Coast Community Foundation is supporting year-round educational opportunities for all.

With school beginning this August, bright yellow school buses return to the roads and students who are eager to learn and excited to meet their classmates cling to their backpacks as they race to make the bell. However, what we don’t often stop to think of are the young learners who need scholastic support throughout the whole year.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation (Gulf Coast) supports students and their educational journeys both through the academic year and in the summer. Summer is the perfect time to provide extra encouragement, mentoring, and educational enrichment for our students, particularly those whose families are under stress or the students who are working very hard to achieve grade level.

“We have special people in our midst who love and care for our students and make sure they thrive not only during the school year but throughout the summer. These are extraordinary people who are going the extra mile to care for our kids and their families all year,” shared Gulf Coast’s Director of Community Leadership Jennifer Johnston.

A Closer Look
Girls Inc. of Sarasota County and J5 Experience, Inc. both offer unique summer programming and support for young learners throughout the whole year.

Together with our donors, we at Gulf Coast Community Foundation have awarded over $2.8 million to Girls Inc. of Sarasota County (Girls Inc.) to date. In May, Gulf Coast granted $19,000 to Girls Inc. for summer scholarships. This grant is made possible through the L. Conway Channing Endowment Fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation and is designated to be used for the Summer Support-A-Girl (SAG) Scholarship Program. This is an ongoing partnership to help families who have the greatest financial needs.

The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. They serve a vulnerable population of girls in grades K-12 and equip them with life skills so they can flourish as healthy, educated, and independent adults. The SAG program allows Girls Inc. to continue providing vulnerable families with scholarship assistance so their daughters can attend their programs for free or at a reduced cost. Currently, 80% of the girls enrolled are on a scholarship. Receiving a scholarship can be life-changing for a girl and her family. Girls Inc. served 22 schools in the county last year with their national program, mentors, and small groups to support emotional health and communications skills.

Gulf Coast sat down with Girls Inc. President and CEO Angie Stringer to learn more.

Q: Why is it important to offer this scholarship program in the summer?

Stringer: “We have a history of providing scholarships. They have gotten even more important over the last few years. Our families struggled so much through COVID-19 and some are still trying to catch up which will take time. Additionally, over the last two years, housing costs have skyrocketed. Our families are working families living paycheck to paycheck. You have to remember that these scholarships are for the most at-risk girls from homeless families or parents who are out of work and struggling the most. We are grateful to Gulf Coast for providing this grant and for all of their steadfast support over the years.”

Q: Do you have a story you could share on the impact of these scholarships?

Stringer: “We have a girl who started with us when she was seven years old. I have seen so much growth in her. Her self-esteem and ability to get out into the community and serve from what she learned here is amazing. She just graduated from Sarasota High School and wanted to go to a university out of state. We visited the university together. She ended up getting enough scholarships to cover all four years. I’m so proud of her. She starts in the fall.”

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