ECHO Global Farm in North Fort Myers has received $ 25,000 grant from the Cape Coral Community Foundation. The grant is intended to help the worldwide agricultural support agency, where interns last week were making charcoal using logs cut from trees felled by Hurricane Irma, better prepare for any future storm.
Community Foundation Executive Director Michael Chatman toured the farm last Tuesday as a way to expand the organization’s reach and capacity beyond Cape Coral and for more regional, national and international philanthropy, and ECHO seemed to fit all that criteria with its mission to try to end world hunger.
“They understand that donors can only be approached so many times. They’re working on bringing in money from outside the community to make impacts globally, and ECHO is their partner to do that,” said Danielle Flood, ECHO spokesperson.
Chatman said Heidi Veres, volunteer coordinator for ECHO, approached him about their need for funding after they were hit hard by Irma, but they didn’t have the wherewithal to offer that kind of funding.
The foundation went to the Silicon Valley Foundation in California, a strategic partner, and submitted a grant on their behalf and eventually received funding and assets so ECHO can improve its hurricane preparedness.
“We work very closely with them on many different things. They help us with complex gift donations such as stocks or real estate and board training,” Chatman said. “We have a great relationship with them.
ECHO spent thousands of manhours cleaning up the farm, which could have been used to continue its mission, Flood said.
ECHO staff got together after the storm and discussed what they can do better and what they learned from the storm, how they were prepared and unprepared and what would help them get back on their feet
“These funds will be used in various ways to help us recover from future storms, be more prepared and help our water and electrical system,” Flood said.
The money also will be used for emergency equipment, food preservation, storm shutters, Flood said.
Chatman said the foundation wants to be more integrated into the region. Many of the non-profits in the region are “across the bridge,” though they are required to offer services for Cape Coral.
“Everyone we grant to has a touch with Cape Coral. We want to be ingrained in the region and not be so isolated,” Chatman said.
He also said ECHO and the foundation are aligned in regards to what they’re doing.
The foundation started an initiative called the Global Center of Generosity and branded itself around it so they can access outside money from national and global sources.
“We realize there is a lot of donor fatigue in the area and a lot of the same donors are asked over and over to give. We felt it was important to bring outside money in,” Chatman said, adding that in this situation, the foundation didn’t have to be the conduit, but rather give a warm hand-off and make the direct connections.