Dear Friends, 
Since I last wrote to you, we as a community and as a nation have faced another week of high and varied emotions. We watched in trepidation as COVID-19 cases continued to climb with a death toll that has soared over 100,000 in our nation - 49 in Collier County. We rejoiced together with astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, at the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral and Crew Dragon docking at the International Space Station. And then, together, we mourned and struggled to come to terms with the murder of George Floyd, so soon after Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the resulting protests born out of hundreds of years of frustration, social injustice, and inequity. 
These events cause me to reflect on the Community Foundation's role as a philanthropic and community leader. Here at CFCC, we focus on the needs of the community without regard to race, religion, education, residency, ethnicity, or gender roles. But philanthropy is not just about funding to promote the welfare of others; it's also about advocacy and bringing about meaningful change for the greater good. We must do our part to support equal rights, opportunities, protection, and justice - not just in our backyard, but in our nation. Silence is unacceptable.
When George Floyd uttered his last words, "I can't breathe," our nation turned a corner. While we don't condone violent protest, rioting, and looting, they are forms of speech.  We need to start by listening to what they are saying so we can learn. After we mourn and process, what is the next step? There has never been a better time for Collier to come together. Because together, we can be a part of the conversation for change that starts us on our journey of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
I encourage you to start by learning. The following are all excellent resources to start the conversation compiled by our friends at the Florida Nonprofit Alliance :
  • Color of Change is the nation's largest online racial justice organization that seeks to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back by designing campaigns for individuals, organizations, and leaders looking to make real changes for injustice.
  • White Ally Toolkit by Dr. David Camp David Campt, a national racial equity advocate, equips White allies with best practices based on listening, storytelling, and compassion. These best practices will allow white anti-racism allies to become more persuasive in conversations with racism skeptics.
  • Anti-Racism Resources, compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein. This list includes articles, books, films, documentaries, podcasts, and organizations to follow for White people of all ages that will deepen your anti-racist work.
We stand in solidarity with our partners in philanthropy at the Minneapolis Foundation. Our hearts go out to the victims and families who face social injustice or have to live in fear for their safety. We support the Minneapolis Foundation's efforts to address systemic inequities and translate pain, anger, and frustration into actions that repair their city.
We also commend and stand with Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk for his public condemnation of "the actions and as important, the inactions of the officers of the Minneapolis Police Department" and his commitment to upholding the highest standards of protection and professionalism for all.
We are proud of our partnerships with our local law enforcement, government, giving partners, and nonprofits in our community that promote an environment of engagement, trust, and commitment. Together we help to make Collier County a place where we can all flourish and spread hope, light, and love. 
At the Community Foundation, we commit to being engaged and part of the conversation to promote equity and social justice. We remain hopeful that together as a nation, we can build a future that includes kindness, engagement, tolerance, equality, and above all, love.
Great things happen when a community, and a nation, come together.
In peace and unity, 
Eileen Connolly-Keesler 
CFCC president and CEO 


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