Van Wezel Foundation Awarded Grant from Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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SARASOTA, December 14, 2021 – The Van Wezel Foundation (Foundation) announced that it was awarded a $10,000 Community Impact Grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Funding through the grant for expanding Social Emotional Learning into communities of need is provided in part by the John and Tana Sandefur Foundation of the Community Foundation.

“Participation in the arts fosters collaboration, empathy, and critical thinking,” said Foundation CEO Cheryl Mendelson. “This generous grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a critical investment in arts-based learning that will lead to profound positive impacts for our youngest learners and their families.”

Feelings Addressed Mindfully (FAM) provides preschool and school-age students with trauma arts integration techniques grounded in CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning). Through connecting drama, movement and writing to these core CASEL competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making, students feel better so they can learn better. The FAM project goals are to provide social and emotional arts education skills to children and families that are most at-risk because of their socioeconomic status and living in underserved communities.

FAM will be offered free to United Way Early Learning Sites to serve preschoolers. This generous investment will also provide workshops once a month at the Newtown Farmers Market, Sarasota Housing Authority (SHA), the Robert Taylor Center, and the Boys and Girls Club in Newtown and Girls, Inc. to serve children and their families.


The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of $421 million in more than 1,500 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $48.9 million dollars last year in the areas of education, the arts, health and human services, civic engagement, animal welfare and the environment. Since its founding, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $323 million to area nonprofit organizations to our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit or call (941) 955-3000.


The Van Wezel Foundation’s mission is to create and sustain a vibrant performing arts center, advance education, and enrich communities by inspiring minds through the power of the arts. The Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota since 1987 to support arts education throughout our region, serving more than 50,000 students with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. To foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity, the Foundation is leading The Future is Now Campaign, a master plan for Bayfront development that includes a new performing arts center. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.


A true pioneer in the cultural development of Sarasota, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall presents spectacular Broadway musicals, top national and international performers, popular comedians, and a compelling mix of classical and dance productions. Owned and operated by the City of Sarasota, the Van Wezel celebrated its 50th Anniversary during the 2019-2020 season. The theater’s Education and Community Engagement Department serves over 50,000 students, teachers, and family members each year, teaching them in, through and about the arts. In conjunction with the Van Wezel Foundation, the Van Wezel’s Education and Community Engagement Department has launched numerous virtual initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including virtual Schooltime Performances, Zoom-based workshops with teaching artists, and Artworks Anywhere, a series of free arts education videos available on-demand to students, families, and educators. To learn more, visit


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