FAIRWINDS Foundation announced the recipients of its 2023 grants at a breakfast event held at Full Sail Live, attended by community leaders and twelve Central Florida organizations embodying the Foundation’s core purpose of improving lives through financial well-being.
FAIRWINDS Foundation invested a total of $325,000 into improving the financial well-being of Central Floridians through those local organizations.
“We believe that when families and individuals have the information and tools needed to secure and improve their financial health, we collectively impact and improve our community’s economic well-being,” said Elisha González, vice president of community relations and government affairs at FAIRWINDS and executive director of FAIRWINDS Foundation. “These non-profits are conducting incredible work to advance financial literacy and shepherding our communities to experience financial freedom and reach broad-based prosperity.”
Through its grants, FAIRWINDS Foundation supports Central Florida’s most economically vulnerable populations, including homeless and at-risk youth, victims of domestic violence, and minority business owners, among many others. In 2022 through its grants, FAIRWINDS Foundation made measurable impacts, from helping FoolProof Foundation double the financial literacy testing scores of 13,400 area students to assisting Habit for Humanity Greater Orlando and Osceola County provide financial education, one-on-one mentoring, and affordable housing to 1,000 people.
Each selected organization strives to foster financial understanding, stability, and independence. The 2023 grantees include the following:
8 Cents in a Jar, Inc. received a $20,000 grant from FAIRWINDSFoundation. The award-winning Florida 501c(3) nonprofit creates opportunities for students in marginalized neighborhoods and communities of color to achieve economic mobility through financial education. In 2022, the organization served 1,399 students within Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties, helped raise reported students’ overall savings account average balance to $6,540, and students’ average credit score remained at 741.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando and Osceola County received a $30,000 grant from FAIRWINDSFoundation. Habitat Orlando & Osceola is dedicated to expanding housing security and financial stability. Due to its efforts and partners including FAIRWINDS Foundation, in 2022 more than 1,000 people benefitted from financial education, one-on-one mentoring, resources, and truly affordable housing. For example, 115 households managed their money better, paid down debt, increased savings, and improved credit scores; 20 families became first-time homebuyers of brand-new energy efficient homes; 20 low-income families and seniors kept their homes because of critical repairs; and seven families paid off their Habitat homes in full!
Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka received a $30,000 grant from FAIRWINDSFoundation. In 2022, Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka created pathways to homeownership for more than 100 community members and Habitat Homebuyers. Through the Homebuyers Program, Habitat opened the door for growth, stability, and self-reliance for 40 low- to moderate-income families. Twelve families completed the Homebuyers Program and purchased their forever homes – durable and affordable houses they helped build. By the time they closed on their home, each had increased their savings, reduced their debt-to-income ratio, and increased their credit score. Another 28 families continued their homeownership journey in the program. Through the Financial Academy, Habitat Seminole-Apopka increased the financial literacy and improved the financial management skills of over 60 community members, many of whom Habitat had previously denied for not meeting baseline financial requirements. The affiliate’s construction and financial wellness programs created a ripple effect resulting in a local economic impact of nearly $14 million!
City Year Orlando received a $10,000 grant from FAIRWINDS Foundation, which will enable the organization to continue its programming supporting math and financial literacy initiatives at Title I, Orange County Public School partner schools, and also equip AmeriCorps members serving in math classrooms with the resources and tools to support hundreds of students on foundational skills. In 2022, with the support of the FAIRWINDS Foundation, City Year Orlando AmeriCorps members served nearly 800 students through one-on-one and small group math support while also providing more than 4,000 hours of individualized math support to students. City Year Orlando was able to integrate FAIRWINDS’ training materials into Learning and Development Days in a series named “Finance Fridays” for more than 40 young adults and staff.
The Sharing Center received a $10,000 grant which will enable the organization to continue to provide dignified solutions for those experiencing poverty and homelessness. Since 1986, The Sharing Center has provided over 455,350 individuals with support and assistance. Today, The Sharing Center is the most comprehensive social services organization working to prevent homelessness and end hunger in Seminole County. In 2022, The Sharing Center launched ProjectRISE, a transformational workforce development program empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sustainability. Through job acquisition skills, emotional intelligence awareness, and financial literacy education, ProjectRISE provides a path to better future.
FoolProof Foundation, Inc. received a $25,000 grant from FAIRWINDS Foundation. FoolProof empowers consumers with independent resources to make the right financial decisions for life. In partnership with the FAIRWINDS Foundation, FoolProof set out to serve 7,000 in the Orlando area in 2022. Through engagement with local teachers in professional development sessions, curriculum deployment, and classroom support, FoolProof was able to educate 13,463 local students. The students not only went through the program, they were able to increase their knowledge toward standard learning objectives. When establishing a baseline of knowledge through pretesting, student scores averaged 49%. After module testing, average student test scores rocketed to 86%.
Harbor House of Central Florida received a $20,000 grant, which will aid the organization’s mission to prevent and break the cycle of domestic abuse through empowerment-based programs, advocacy, education, and community engagement. As the only state-certified domestic violence services provider in Orange County, Harbor House of Central Florida serves thousands of women, men, children, and pets each year. Financial abuse is a component of almost every case of domestic violence. In 2022, Harbor House’s outreach programs assisted 4,393 survivors. Under the organization’s Economic Empowerment Program, Harbor House served 481 survivors, providing them with 19,878 services. Because of this program, 15 survivors opened a bank account, 32 survivors were assisted with credit, 232 survivors created financial plans, 53 survivors obtained employment, 9 survivors participated in the micro loan program, 10 survivors met their matched savings goal, and 24 survivors began working towards their GED.
CareerSource Central Florida (CSCF) received a $25,000 grant. CSCF connects Central Floridians to better-paying careers and develops skilled talent for businesses. The organization helps residents explore career opportunities, access and pay for training, secure experiential learning opportunities and develop their skills, improving their employment prospects and placements. The partnership with the FAIRWINDS Foundation will enhance the youth programming for the Summer Youth Power Skills Academy, providing foundational financial tools and knowledge to Central Florida youth in underserved communities that contribute to long-term financial stability and professional success. In 2022, the Career Source Summer Youth Program served nearly 1,000 youth, including representation from the 5-county region in Central Florida.
Lift Orlando received a $25,000 grant, enabling the organization to continue to work with residents, business leaders, and community partners to strengthen neighborhoods and help people thrive through mixed-income housing, cradle-to-career education pathways, health and wellness services, and economic viability opportunities. In 2022, FAIRWINDS Foundation supported Lift Orlando’s work in economic viability and advancing financial literacy in The Communities of West Lakes. Funding supported resources and services provided through West Lakes Financial Well Being Center, the development of the Small Business Institute, and financial literacy programs at Pendana at West Lakes Apartments and Pendana Senior Residences, positively impacting 174 residents.
BBIF (Black Business Investment Fund) received a $30,000 grant. A certified U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution, BBIF’s Financial Technical Assistance training services encompass Financial Literacy Education. By way of chartable affiliate BBCDC, BBIF developed and implemented a financial literacy program during 2022, offering a virtual series and one-on-one guidance to BIPOC entrepreneurs and individuals in the Central Florida region. Over the year, more than 250 individuals received training on personal credit, managing debt, debt payoff strategies, building a financial future/plan, financial management and managing cash flow. Through the program, BBIF has equipped several business owners — many emerging — with critical financial knowledge and best practices to make the best long term financial decisions for their businesses. A number of the businesses served are working with BBIF to receive additional financial technical assistance services and/or loan capital to support their business growth.
Prospera USA was granted $50,000 to address financial literacy through focusing on the training and coaching of underserved Hispanics so they succeed financially at the personal level and have a better opportunity to become prosperous business owners. In 2022, Prospera delivered individual, personalized consulting to 946 Hispanic entrepreneurs on the West Coast of Florida and in Central Florida. In addition to that trusted guidance and handholding, Prospera hosted 87 educational seminars for finance and business management training in Spanish for disadvantaged Hispanics. A total of 1,982 entrepreneurs learned more about financial literacy, business budgeting, and other related topics that are crucial to successfully operating their businesses. Furthermore, 198 business advancement services were awarded to small business owners in these communities for additional technical assistance and consulting projects for their small businesses. Thanks in part to the funding from FAIRWINDS Foundation, 18 loans were marketed for small businesses totaling $1.85 million, and Prospera helped consulting clients create or retain 1,766 jobs in greater Orlando and Tampa.
Junior Achievement USA was again granted $50,000 from FAIRWINDS Foundation. JA is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA programs are delivered by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. Funding from the FAIRWINDS Foundation supports JA Finance Park and JA Finance Park Virtual learning experience implementation across four JA areas — Georgia, Dallas, Hillsborough County and Central Florida — helping more than 3,000 students build a foundation upon which they can make intelligent financial decisions that last a lifetime.
FAIRWINDS Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the philanthropic arm of FAIRWINDS Credit Union.