COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS

Through the Foundation's investments, leveraging of our goals have provided a positive impact in area schools, the arts, quality healthcare and environmental initiatives. Here are a few of the grants awarded in 2015 that are making Bay and Walton County an even better place.


BAY COUNTY

From the sandy white beaches in Mexico Beach to farmland in Fountain, Bay County is home to generations of families as well as those who recently found their way here and love the area. Home to many who enjoy the area for its wealth of great fishing, fun events, wonderful food and higher education alternatives, Bay County encompasses all that makes people happy with plenty of sunshine thrown in.

In 2015 the Foundation granted funds to the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association, a local organization that has placed over 200 artificial reefs in Bay waters to ensure that marine life continues to endure in the area. Conservation efforts like this are one of the Foundation's top priorities, as restoring the natural habitat is important for the environment. In addition, the Foundation granted funds to the Bay Area Audubon Society for the promotion of environmental films. The Society routinely promotes outside activities for the community to participate in at local parks throughout the year.

Good healthcare is a necessary part of healthy living and many area nonprofits received grants from the Foundation to help those in our community bring about a positive change in their lives. The Panama City Rescue Mission was awarded a grant to help men and women seeking to free themselves from substance abuse, while the Acton Up with Downs nonprofit used their grant to help promote a buddy walk in our area. Pyramid, Inc., a school for adults with disabilities, received funding to help purchase a passenger van for the students to volunteer in the community.

Cultural arts is also an area that the Foundation funds and with good reason. Cultural events bring people together with activities that everyone enjoys. In 2015, the Foundation assisted Floriopolis with a grant to ensure the Panama City art center could continue to bring area artists and art programs to the community. From funding the "Night of H.O.P.E." poetry event at Jinks Middle School, to providing a grant to restore the Historic St. Andrew Church in St. Andrew area of Panama City, the Foundation continued to reach new nonprofits in order to bring about a positive change.

The last area that the Foundation provides funding in is education. In 2015, it was an exciting year for many students, both young and old. The Foundation was proud to sponsor a large grant to AMIKids, Panama City Marine Institute, that educates high school students who have been thought of as non-learners in the past. This educational facility has changed many young lives to a life of responsibility, respect and positive learning. Other funding included granting new physical education equipment, electronic equipment, as well as many endowed scholarships to area schools and universities, and proves how focused the Foundation is to strengthening education in Bay County.


WALTON COUNTY

Walton County is composed of wondrous and abundant natural resources. The Crystalline Gulf waters connect to various waterways that thread throughout the region forming bayous, rivers and lakes. Woodlands and natural preserves provide extraordinary habitat for a richly diverse wildlife, as well as human communities. As in Bay County, fishing and seafood are abundant, as well as cultural events and great healthcare for all who live and work in the area.

The Foundation continues to play an active role in the community to help strengthen the well-being of the area. Grants from the Foundation continue to support the area hospital, Sacred Heart in Miramar Beach. Grants to Safe Connections, for children trapped in troubled households, the COPE Center and Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center in DeFuniak Springs assist the young and old by providing a myriad of healthcare services to the community instead of a hospital stay.

Cultural events are promoted by area nonprofits to help raise funds to help those in the community. The Foundation is proud to continue to assist their positive impact in the community by supporting them with grants. Nonprofits that were awarded cultural event grants in 2015 include Special Olympics, Cancer Freeze, Seaside Neighborhood School 5K Run and ½ Marathon, the Walton County Sheriff's Office Zombie Run and American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Each nonprofit provided an added bonus to participants of being able to exercise while promoting the cause, such as running or playing golf, bringing the community together for a reason to benefit their family, friends or neighbors in need.

The educational efforts made by the Foundation in Walton County continue to inspire and promote those willing to go the extra effort in school. The Foundation is proud to note over 40 children have been given the opportunity to attend college through the Foundation's grants to the Walton County Take Stock in Children program. Other educational programs the Foundation has funded in 2015 are the Sea Perch Program at Walton Middle School, I pads for 2nd graders at West DeFuniak Elementary, new Lacrosse equipment at Seacoast Collegiate High School, and a major supporter of the Walton High School AFJROTC program for the past 3 years.

As stated earlier, Walton County has an abundant amount of waterways and natural habitat and is a proud supporter of the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport, mainly their "Talking Trash Recycling Program". Children from Walton and neighboring counties attend the Center to learn more about Florida nature and its wildlife. In addition, in 2015, the Foundation was a major supporter of the South Walton Artificial Reef Association's first 12 reefs off of Grayton Beach, which in a few short months has spawned new marine life that residents and visitors can swim to see. Other environmental grants were provided to Friends of Florida State Parks and the South Walton Community Council for their promotion of the area's trails for walking, biking and running. I invite you to learn more about our 2015 Year-In Review grants in the following counties that the Foundation funds.

To see more grants the Foundation has provided, click on the "Recent Contributions" tab under the "Regional Investment" tab. Thank you for stopping by the website.