Gulf Coast Community Foundation Helps Students and Teachers Thrive

Jan 23, 2023

Dr. Mark Pritchett standing outside.Dr. Mark Pritchett’s mom was a public-school teacher. She taught art, and Pritchett still remembers her packing the car full of supplies and traveling from school to school, nourishing students of all socio-economic backgrounds through the power of creativity. She sparked imaginations and transformed lives as she helped students find new ways to express themselves.

Pritchett, the president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, credits his mom for shaping his belief in the power of education and for the utmost respect he has for teachers. He grew up in a home where the expectation was to go to college. It was built into his DNA. He is committed to helping more students access education after high school because, as he said, it “does transform our children’s lives and their futures.”

Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s longstanding commitment to education has helped fuel innovation and inspire students across the county. From launching its STEMsmart initiative, which transformed middle school classrooms and made learning more interactive and engaging, to its long-term support of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has done so much to help students—and our community—thrive.

In 2022 alone, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has generously assisted the Education Foundation in so many ways. It has helped us honor exceptional teachers through its support of the Ignite Education Teacher of the Year Award Celebration. It has supported the Student Success Fund, helping ensure that students can access resources and relationships that they need to plan and prepare for life after high school. It has helped the Education Foundation sustain LaunchPad4U, where students from across the county can find individualized support and access resources as they plan for life.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has also been a vital partner of PLANit Sarasota, the local college access network (LCAN) for Sarasota. It provides leadership as a key member of the steering committee, and it has given over $100,000 for PLANit Sarasota’s work reaching more underserved students and connecting them to the resources and opportunities they need to successfully pursue education after high school. Thanks to Gulf Coast Community Foundation, PLANit Sarasota can do more to harness the collective power of diverse, caring partners working to provide that extra support that can change lives.

When he was in college, Pritchett was a big brother through the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. He mentored an eight-year-old boy who he remains in touch with today. Pritchett’s little brother, now in his 50s, will remind him of conversations they had, important advice that Pritchett provided and which he has forgotten. During these conversations, Pritchett is always struck by the lasting difference one person can have on another individual. As Pritchett said, “Having a caring, stable adult is one of the most significant things you can provide a child.”

Relationships make such a difference. Thanks to Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Education Foundation can do more to nourish relationships that transform lives. We can provide more resources that matter, and we can connect more community partners to create opportunities for students. We are grateful for this support.

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