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Children First Receives Nearly $230,000 of Support to Sustain Scholarships and Family Strengthening

As the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First serves more than 1,000 individuals living at or below the Federal Poverty Level ($24,860 for a family of 3) across multiple locations daily.

      To support this critical work, the agency has received $60,000 from the Roberta Leventhal Sudakoff Foundation, $30,000 from the Dr. Samir M. Shafie Charitable Foundation, $25,000 from The Harry Sudakoff Foundation, $10,000 from Harold C. & Jacqueline F. Bladel Foundation, $5,000 from The James M. Doss Charitable Foundation, $5,000 from the Libertore Fund for Children, $4,000 from The Plantation Community Foundation, $1,000 from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund, $500 from the India Benton Lesser Foundation, and $500 from the MSC Foundation for scholarship support.

      Scholarships provide comprehensive services including early childhood education, nutrition, emotional and behavioral support, and family strengthening services for the most vulnerable children and families living in our community. By providing scholarships for full-day infant and toddler care as well as pre-school education, parents also receive the opportunity to strengthen their finances and ultimately achieve self-sufficiency.

      In addition, Children First received $40,000 from Anonymous Supporters to support the expansion of the agency’s Family Strengthening Services, $30,000 from Anonymous Supporters to support five classes through the agency’s award-winning Families First Institute (FFI), $2,500 from the Florida Winefest & Auction to support FFI, and $1,000 from Synovus Foundation to support a Calendar-Based Budgeting class through FFI.

      The Families First Institute is an award-winning, family-focused initiative that offers comprehensive curricula to the community at-large focusing on child development, parenting strategies, career and personal growth, money management, and more.

      Other recent grants awarded include $5,000 from the Kathleen K. Catlin Foundation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in honor of the Sarasota Yacht Club-SYC Cares Foundation, $5,000 from the Venice Golf and Country Club Foundation Grant Fund of Gulf Coast Community Foundation for Comprehensive Services, $3,000 from the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch to support learning through play, and $2,369.15 from the George W. and Ethel B. Hoefler Fund of The Community Foundation of Sarasota County for the purchase of car seats for families in need.

      “At Children First, our investment with our children and families is at the forefront because research shows how critical early education and intervention can be, especially for those living at risk,” says CEO Philip Tavill. “We are deeply appreciative of our constellation of community partners for helping us not only show our parents how they can be their child’s first and most important teacher, but in realizing their entire family’s full potential on their pathway to success.”

About Children First:

Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At multiple sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to


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Media Contact : Evan Ackerman

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