Category Archives for News

Hurricane Irma Resource List

Hurricane Irma Resource List

The Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida would like to extend our sincerest condolences to anyone who has lost their home or has experienced hardship due to Hurricane Irma. We understand many Southwest Florida residents are emotionally and physically exhausted from the stress of the preparations and the impact of the storm. We have compiled a list of resources for anyone who may be in need of assistance. If you are aware of any resources that you would like us to list please let us know in the comments below. We are so proud of our Southwest Florida community for coming together during this time of need. Let’s continue to help our neighbors, friends, and fellow Southwest Florida residents as we work together to rebuild our beautiful region.

Resource List

Food Assistance

Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida has been distributing food and water in several locations around Southwest Florida.  If you are in need of food or water you can follow their Facebook page for up to date distribution sites

Hurricane Relief

FEMA has designated funds available to help replace essential lost items, fix damaged homes or provide temporary housing. You can qualify for assistance even If you are currently staying in a shelter. The first step to get assistance is to register with FEMA at

For more hurricane relief assistance visit

General Questions.

For storm related information, call United Way 211 by dialing 2-1-1 or 239-433-3900 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.


Marianela is Determined to Deliver Medical Care to Those in Need. Matched Savings for Education is Helping Her Achieve that Goal.

Marianela is Determined to Deliver Medical Care to Those in Need. Matched Savings for Education is Helping Her Achieve that Goal.

Naples Resident, and single mother of five, Marianela has a goal, to become a Physician to deliver care to underserved populations.

According to Marianela,

“Working full time, going to school and taking care of a family of five can cause financial stress. The help from the Matched Savings for Education  program takes some of the financial burden off my shoulders, especially during summer when some grants are not available.”

Marianela is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science. Her biggest challenge as a student is to remain focused on school while working full time and being a single mother of five. But her goal to deliver compassionate, non-profit driven medical care to those in need motivates her to keep going.

Marianela enjoyed participating in the Matched Savings for Education Program because:

It was nice to work towards my savings goal with people who underestood my struggles and who encouraged me to reach my  goal.  I was surprised that I enjoyed the financial literacy course requirement of the program. I  wish I had taken  a financial literacy course earlier in life.”

Impact Summary of the Matched Savings for Education Program


Freedom of Speech Arguments Can NEVER Justify Selling Children Online

Freedom of Speech Arguments Can NEVER Justify Selling Children Online

Here are 6 myths and facts you should be aware of regarding the tech industry’s

obstruction of section 230 legislation.

After months of hearings, our U.S. Congress recently took steps to close the loophole that currently makes it legal for internet businesses like to advertise and sell children for sex.
This positive action by Congress to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was met with immediate opposition by Google and other well-funded tech company lobbyists. We should all be outraged. The tech industry’s opposition to any attempt to tweak Section 230 is not driven by free speech concerns; it is driven by the same motivating factor that drives companies like to facilitate sex trafficking—profit

Myth # 1: This is just about going after

THE FACTS: While (“Backpage”) is the largest online platform where sex trafficking victims are bought and sold, it certainly is not the only platform. If Backpage principals are criminally prosecuted and the website shuts down, another site will fill this space and likely will not filter content at all. The current legal interpretation of Section 230 has created an atmosphere where bad actors like Backpage can operate with minimal risk and high profits. Other companies will quickly continue to fill this space. The business model, not Backpage, is the reason that amending Section 230 is so essential.

Myth # 2: Section 230 should not be amended because bad actors can be prosecuted under federal criminal law.

THE FACTS: There is an urgent need to amend Section 230 because of the 1st Circuit, in Doe v. Backpage, recently found that even if Backpage had participated in criminal activity, its conduct was protected from the claims of children who had been sold on its site. Indeed, the court advised the children to seek a legislative remedy because Section 230 was in conflict with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. While some tech companies are now publicly calling for Backpage to be prosecuted in federal court, this is in stark contrast to their private actions in support of Backpage. The Center for Democracy and Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other organizations representing technology companies have vigorously and consistently intervened in Backpage 2 cases, including those filed by children, to support the position and claims of Backpage that Section 230 protects its operations

Myth # 3: This legislation is an attack on free speech on the Internet

THE FACTS: The primary purpose of Section 230 was to protect a fledgling Internet industry from legal fees related to defamation claims based on third party content, not to preserve free speech. Now, profits, rather than speech, are what is driving the debate. Courts have consistently interpreted and expanded Section 230 far beyond its original intent, to protect not only “irrational free speech” (e.g. revenge porn, snuff film sites, and other types of malicious speech) but actual criminal conduct.

Myth # 4: Section 230 is the bedrock of the Internet.

THE FACTS: Section 230 was never intended to convey Teflon-like blanket immunity to sites engaged in meretriciousactivity. In 1996, it was enacted in response to a $200 million dollar defamation suit filed by Stratton Oakmont (the Jordan Belfort/Wolf of Wall Street firm) against Prodigy (an Internet billboard) for failing to remove a comment which accused Stratton Oakmont of stock manipulation. The court ruled against Prodigy. Congress responded by enacting Section 230 at a time when there was no way for new Internet sites to manage large amounts of data. Congress aimed to protect these new sites from multiple defamation claims as long as these sites were, in good faith, filtering or moderating content. At the time, Congress elected to treat online publishers differently from offline publishers, which enjoy no Section 230 protection. However, because of inconsistent language contained in Section 230, courts have interpreted the statute to protect not only good faith filtering, but all third-party content (whether or not filtering occurs). This was never the intent. Technology has outpaced our legal framework with harm never contemplated back in 1996. Thus, Section 230 must be calibrated in light of decisions by courts to protect “Bad Samaritans” (hosting of illegal commercial sex; revenge porn; and the like) as well as actual criminal conduct.

Myth # 5: The Internet will break if Section 230 protection is clarified.

THE FACTS: Civil liability for all online entities that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking will have no impact on self-regulating, good faith actors. Further, the proposed legislation preserves the Good Samaritan clause, which provides a safe harbor for good actors who filter content in good faith.

Myth # 6: Amending Section 230 will discourage self-policing.

THE FACTS: This is false. Most legitimate tech companies have embraced self-policing and will continue to do so. However, for bad actors like Backpage, Section 230 has allowed the Wild West of the Internet to proliferate with no incentive to keep the dark side of technology at bay.

Turn your outrage into action. Contact your congressional representatives via email, phone or letter to let them know you want Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act amended as soon as possible to stop the “legal” selling of children for sex on the internet. To find your member of Congress, go to
You can also Join the conversation on Twitter using #CDA230

*The myths above were originally published in a Joint Statement by the ” I am Jane Doe” Film creators. You can read the full statement HERE


Meet Suzi and Nick! How Matched Savings for Education Works for SWFL Families

Meet Suzi and Nick! How Matched Savings for Education Works for SWFL Families

Investment in educational attainment for women is a key workforce development strategy at the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida. We believe in a two-generation approach to improving the lives of women and girls in the Southwest Florida region. Two-generation approaches focus on creating opportunities for and addressing needs of children and their parents together.

Why a Two-Generation Approach?

One of our key initiatives, The Matched Savings for Education Program is a great example.This initiative offers ‘hard working, but falling short’ families the opportunity to save for education, participate in money management classes and receive individualized coaching. Matched Savings for Education participants save $500 and receive our match of $4,000 to use towards their education once they meet the program requirements. Successful savers and their families will benefit from higher wages through training and education, and if they have children, they benefit from a higher quality of childhood. Suzi and Nick are a great illustration of this approach.

Meet Suzi and Nick!

Suzi Loughren is a teacher and one of our Matched Savings for Education participants. She and Nick both completed our required money management course. Then Suzi opened her Matched Savings for Education account at Florida Community Bank where she met her $500 savings goal on March 14th, 2017. Those savings were matched with $4,000 by the Women’s Foundation, providing a total of $4,500 to help finance Nick’s education.

Nick’s biggest motivation to earn his college degree is to inspire and provide financial security for his family. He preaches the importance of education to his children and believes in leading by example. Nick has been working as a high school Head Baseball coach and will be pursuing a job as a medical scribe this summer. He is also obtaining shadow hours among various medical specialties.

His future goals include gaining acceptance into the Nova Southeastern Fort Myers Physician Assistant Program to complete his Master’s Degree as a Physician Assistant, followed by acceptance into the United States Navy as a Medical Officer; where he plans to proudly serve our great country as a Physician Assistant.

Would you help other Southwest Florida families secure a better future for their families? You have the power to help by making a donation today!

Note:  Our Matched Saving for Education Program is funded by federal grants, local philanthropists, bank community investments, corporate partners and United Way affiliates.

Two Generation Approach images and definitions are provided by Ascend at The Aspen Institute.


Chico’s FAS, Inc. Empowers Local Women Through Educational Partnership with The Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida

Chico’s FAS, Inc. Empowers Local Women Through Educational Partnership with The Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida

May 29, 2017 – (Fort Myers) ElevateHer SWFL is proud to announce a year-long partnership with Chico’s FAS, Inc. through its Matched Savings for Education program. As part of this partnership, Chico’s FAS will help provide women the opportunity to continue their college education and pursue their dreams of achieving success in the workplace.

Led by the Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida, ElevateHer SWFL helps boost the economic development of Southwest Florida women and girls through strategic partnerships, collaboration and investments in programs that fund education, security, entrepreneurship and advocacy.
“ElevateHer aligns with Chico’s FAS’ values and mission to support women’s empowerment, well-being and education,” says Jessica Wells, VP of Public Relations and Corporate Communication for Chico’s FAS, Inc. “We are proud to partner with a program that provides the opportunity for women to achieve their dreams of a college education.”
Chico’s FAS’ 2017-2018 ElevateHer SWFL sponsorship will focus on investments in educational attainment for women as a key workforce development strategy, helping to find solutions and raise awareness of a critical gap in equity for women. Fewer than one in five Southwest Florida women over age 25 have attained a bachelor’s degree. The Matched Savings program offers hard working women the opportunity to save for education, participate in financial training classes and receive individualized career coaching. Women earn $8 for every $1 they save, turning their required $500 in savings into $4,500 that is paid directly to their college.
For ElevateHer SWFL sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brenda Tate at (239) 908-0301 or


The Company, through its brands, Chico’s, White House Black Market, and Soma, is a leading omni-channel specialty retailer of women’s private branded, sophisticated, casual-to-dressy clothing, intimates and complementary accessories. The Company operates more than 1,500 stores in the US and Canada and sold merchandise through franchise locations in Mexico. The Company’s merchandise is also available at, and For more detailed information on Chico’s FAS, Inc., please visit

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