PENSACOLA, Fla. — Five local charitable or nonprofit organizations received grants from the Gulf Power Foundation, totaling nearly $53,000 to support communities throughout Northwest Florida.

“The Gulf Power Foundation’s goal is to improve the lives of Northwest Florida residents and we are honored to be able to provide these grants to help our community,” said Sandy Sims, executive director for the Gulf Power Foundation. “Our mission will always remain to support our communities where we live and work, and our quarterly grants through the Gulf Power Foundation are one way we can help build strong and sustainable communities.”

Each quarter, the Gulf Power Foundation accepts grant applications from charitable and non-profit organizations from across Northwest Florida. The most recent quarterly grant recipients are:

  • Audubon Florida: $20,000. Funds will protect the Navarre Beach Causeway Seabird Colony. Black skimmers and least terns are state-designated threatened species that nest very close to the road shoulder of the Navarre Beach causeway. Audubon has installed fencing and signage to designate the nesting areas and also uses an electronic reader board and flashing speed sign to help limit vehicle collisions to protect the birds.
  • Girl Scouts of Gateway Council: $7,500. GSGC currently has 150 STEM programs scheduled for the spring of 2021 to provide girls with opportunities to learn about cybersecurity, coding, robotics, automotive design, manufacturing and more. Funds will help with program staff, program supplies, equipment, financial aid for low-income girls and indirect costs such as program registration website and communications.
  • Goodwill Industries of the Gulf Coast: $5,000. Funds will help GGC offer training and instruction for digital skills, modules toward in-demand career credentials, job search skills, and retention services based on individual need. Training focuses on groups impacted by poverty, disability, low educational levels and poor job skills.
  • Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Northwest Florida State College: $10,000. The funds will help Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, revamping the Grasses in Classes program and other K-12 science programs to create a blend of online curriculum, new educational content around freshwater tributaries and habitats, video lessons, a teacher professional development support platform and a traveling outdoor classroom.
  • Andrew Christian Care Center: $10,000. St. Andrew Christian Care Center provides groceries and clothing at no cost to low-income residents of Bay County. Grant funds will be used to purchase food from Feeding the Gulf Coast and local supermarkets.

Grant spotlight: Seabirds on Navarre Beach Causeway

Audubon first began coordinating efforts at Navarre Beach in 2013 to assist seabird nesting for a colony along the road on the causeway in south Santa Rosa County. The effort ties in with the group’s overall mission to protect birds and their natural environment and habitat.

“Protecting birds and their habitat is at the core of Audubon’s mission,” said Caroline Stahala, project manager with Audubon Florida. “Coastal bird species are losing natural habitat and find suitable nesting sites in unconventional places. This Navarre Causeway is one such site with unconventional protective measures. Gulf Power’s support of our measures – using electronic reader boards and speed signs – means more imperiled bird species will be protected.”

To keep the local seabirds safe, Audubon works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Santa Rosa County to reduce the speed limit on the causeway each year. When coastal birds begin exhibiting nesting behavior, the Santa Rosa County Public Works department temporarily lowers the speed limit from 35 mph to 20 mph. Audubon uses electronic reader boards and flashing speed signs to alert drivers of the nesting birds and reduced speed limits.

The reader board and flashing speed signs have decreased bird mortality by more than 80%.

Grant spotlight: Girl Scouts of Gateway Council

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character and the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council serves nearly 14,000 girls across North Florida from Pensacola to Jacksonville. This grant will help GSGC focus on opportunities in STEM programs – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Although women comprise half of the current workforce, they occupy less than 25% of STEM jobs,” said TriciaRae Stancato, chief operations and development officer for GSGC. “This gap is noticeable by age eight. Girls and boys do not differ in their science and math abilities, but do differ in their interest and confidence in STEM subjects.”

The Foundation grant will be used for research-based and outcome-driven STEM programming for girls in the community. Gateway will partner its curriculum and with local STEM experts to provide programs. Girls will learn from subject matter experts, helping to create a passion for potential career opportunities and increase their confidence in STEM.

GSGC is dedicated to helping girls from all backgrounds succeed. It currently serves approximately 4,200 girls from low- and moderate-income families throughout the North Florida region. In STEM, GSGC is the largest provider of programming for girls in kindergarten through third grade.

“If more girls learn that STEM careers are a great path towards their goals to serve their world, we will increase their confidence and more girls will choose STEM,” Stancato said. “This helps close the gender gap in this field. Thanks to the grant from the Gulf Power Foundation, we will be able to expand girls’ access to these experiences and build a pipeline of female STEM leaders.”

The Gulf Power Foundation has operated for 30 years as an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, partnering and investing in communities throughout Northwest Florida. The Foundation is one of the region’s largest corporate foundations, funded entirely through resources independent of Gulf Power’s customers. Learn more about the Foundation and its quarterly grant program here: https://www.gulfpowerfoundation.com/.