In the Heart of Communities: Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund Grants Tackle Workforce Development, Disaster Response and the Opioid Crisis with Skill-Based Volunteers

I’m Audrey Kidwell, the Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) Program Manager at Volunteer Florida. We have focused specifically on increasing skills-based volunteers for the past seven years! We are proud to support 22 organizations each year throughout the state of Florida. Our VGF program uses evidence-based principles of service and the concept of volunteering as a pathway to work.

Skills-based volunteering builds capacity for nonprofits and service organizations by leveraging the experience, talents and education of volunteers, such as accountants, attorneys and IT professionals, and matches them with the needs of nonprofits. These funds helps organizations effectively recruit, manage and retain skills-based volunteers to serve in high-value volunteer assignments.

Our 22 sub-grantees receive comprehensive training on volunteer management, program and financial requirements, funding for program enhancements, ongoing technical assistance and coaching to establish or strengthen their skills-based volunteer program.

In 2017, Volunteer Florida invested $286,000 in grants for 22 Florida nonprofits. These 22 Volunteer Generation Fund sub-grantees recruited 15,470 skills based volunteers who served 196,438 hours – a value of over $4.7 million.

Volunteer Florida is especially proud to support organizations that opt into our priority areas of Disaster Services and Opioid Crisis.

Disaster Services organization utilize skills-based volunteers to improve community resiliency through disaster preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. Those organizations include Feeding America Tampa Bay and the Monticello Opera House Inc.

Opioid Crisis organizations utilize skills-based volunteers in reducing and/or preventing prescription drug and opioid abuse. Those organizations are Caridad Center Inc., Gulf Coast Jewish Family And Community Services Inc., Parker Street Ministries and Speak Up For Kids of Palm Beach County Inc.

Our VGF grantees are in the heart of communities across the state, putting volunteers to work to provide STEM education opportunities, help job-seekers find employment and teach financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship skills to Floridians.

Learning for Success, Inc. manages the KAPOW program throughout South Florida. KAPOW is a national network of business and elementary school partnerships which introduces students to career awareness through professionally-designed lessons taught by business volunteers in the classroom and visits to work sites.

KAPOW volunteers served 5,924 students in 71 schools throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County. Volunteers are professionals from the local community, assigned to a school to teach a series of seven one-hour lessons, based on career awareness and work place skills. Volunteers empower students, expose them to various career options and help motivate students who are lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem.

United Way of the Florida Keys leads a community-wide partnership with a diverse set of established volunteer-selected nonprofit agencies in Monroe County, Florida.

United Way of the Florida Keys completed 100 tax returns in the community, obtaining low-income clients over $40,000 in returns. Over 115 skills-based volunteers were engaged in Hurricane Irma response. Volunteers provided referrals, assistance with debris clean up and food distribution at different locations throughout the Keys, but primarily in Big Pine Key, where residents were hardest hit.

This group of diverse nonprofits, organizations and of course, skill-based volunteers are helping to make Florida a safer, stronger community for all!

Learn more about Volunteer Florida’s VGF intiative and our VGF grantees.