NAPLES — The high bidders win, the kids win, and this year the Naples Children & Education Foundation wins, too.
As recipient of the prestigious Edison State College 2011 Leadership in Fostering Education (L.I.F.E.) Award, on Feb. 24 the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) will be recognized for its service to the underprivileged and at-risk youth in Collier County.
Created in honor of Holland Salley, a longtime Edison State College trustee and champion of education in Collier County, the annual award honors a community member who has made significant contributions to advancing educational opportunities in the county. The nominations are made in four categories, including distinguished service, professional service, citizen leadership and outstanding contributions to the state Legislature.
Each year, after sending 300-500 nominee solicitation letters, L.I.F.E. Award board members begin narrowing the field of nominees to one award-winner.
Except for this year.
As the L.I.F.E. Award board members whittled away at the short list, several of the strongest candidates had something in common — all are Naples Winter Wine Festival trustees, nominated because of their efforts with the foundation.
They all were equally worthy and all had done tremendous work in the community. And so, in a break from tradition, the L.I.F.E. Award board made the decision to honor the entire foundation as 2011’s L.I.F.E. Award recipient.
In the past 10 years, NCEF has raised more than $82 million for Collier County’s neediest kids through the flagship event, the Winter Wine Festival. Beyond the fundraising, NCEF’s approach has translated to many of the programs becoming the gold standard in early childhood education.
“Not only does NCEF provide grants for nonprofits that benefit children, NCEF has taken the lead in examining the needs of Collier County children, then creating solutions to meet such needs,’’ said Jeff Allbritten, Edison State College’s Collier campus president.
Tickets are available for the 9th annual L.I.F.E. Award luncheon on Feb. 24. Tickets are $150 and proceeds go to Edison State College’s First Generation Scholarship fund. For more information, call Kevin Miller at (239) 732-3718.
The NCEF Pediatric Dental Center was a direct result of the first study. Finding an alarming lack of access to affordable dental care, the assessment surmised that not only were the rates of dental decay in children causing discomfort, they also were responsible for high classroom truancy rates.
The center, when running at capacity, will serve more than 15,000 children annually.
The foundation tackles many other children’s needs as well. For example, there is the Fun Time Academy, an early childhood education center that serves low-income kids in the River Park community of Naples. Lacking proper space and without funds to build a new school, NCEF provided a capital grant to make the 8,000-square-foot facility a reality. Today, the school serves 82 kids, and still relies on NCEF for operating funds.
“NCEF established a partnership with us when they helped with our new building. They look to us as an organization, and want to see their investment succeed,” said Peter Manion, Fun Time Academy’s co-chairman.
In 2009, graduates of Fun Time Learning Academy tested in the top 20th percentile of all kindergartners in Collier County.
It was results like these that caught the eye of the L.I.F.E. Award board, and made the Naples Children & Education Foundation the clear frontrunner for 2011’s award.
MORE COVERAGE OF THE 2011 NAPLES WINTER WINE FESTIVAL
2011 NAPLES WINTER WINE FESTIVAL
- Video: 2011 Wine Festival auction
- Video: Perfectly Paired
- Video: Wine dinner of tropical splendor
- Video: Study shows needs of local children
- Video: Preparations for a wine dinner
- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival Auction Action
- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival Pre-Auction Gala
- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival vintner dinner at the Evanstad home
- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival Vintner Dinner at Lund's Home
- Photo Gallery: The perfect home for the perfect wine
- Photo Gallery: Naples Winter Wine Festival Meet the Kids Day 2011
- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival Auction Lots
- Photo Gallery: Preparation for Wine Festival Vintner Dinner
- Photo Gallery: TutorCorps breaks cycle of poverty through education
- Photo Gallery: Inside the Lutgert kitchen for Wine Festival
- Photo Gallery: Spanish sculptor donates bronze sculpture for wine festival
- Photo Gallery: Naples Children and Education Foundation updates child well-being study
- Photo Gallery: ABLE Academy gives critical developmental help
- Winter Wine festival auction raises $12 million for kids’ charities
- Naples couple tops auction bidding at $1 million for sculpture
- What the wine festival auction lots were sold for
- Live Blog from the Auction: 2011 Naples Wine Festival totals $12 million for kids' charities
- Lavish dinners, children’s event pop cork on 2011 Naples Wine Festival
- Kids in need: Bay Colony home hosts Wine Festival dinner in 'tropical splendor'
- Kids in need: Taste of Oregon comes to Port Royal for lavish Wine Festival dinner
- The perfect cabinet for perfect bottles
- In pursuit of perfection: Wine seller and writer Bruce Nichols helps put together the ultimate wine lot
- Kids in need: Wine Festival enriches YMCA programs by $2.3 million
- Kids in need: YMCA of the Palms staff works with Naples Children & Education Foundation
- VIDEO/PHOTOS: A red 'Vette, a safari and Regis among wine auction lots
- Kids in need: Foster care numbers rise in Collier, but some singing success - AUDIO: MONIQUE SINGS
- Kids in need: Tutor Corps uses student tutors to help get other kids ready for college
- Kids in need: Half of food bank meals in Collier go to kids, enter Lunch Boxes of Love
- Kids in need: Child sexual abuse increasing in Collier, agencies step in to help
- Kids in need: Naples wine festival a sign economy is recovering?
- Kids in need: Bruce and Cynthia Sherman chair 2011 Naples charity wine festival
- VIDEO/PHOTOS Study: Collier population of kids booming, their lives improving
- From cozy to haute cuisine: The Lutgert home kitchen was built to satisfy family and vintner dinners
- No longer locked inside: Dylan Chatham gets critical help from Naples Children and Education Foundation
- Kids in need: Wine Festival sponsors win Edison college community service award