MANATEE -- Four education non-profits, including Take Stock in Children, are among 449 non-profits from Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto counties hoping to get donations during this year's 24-hour online Giving Challenge.
The fourth annual Challenge, which is supported by the Community Foundation of Sarasota, Manatee Community Foundation and Patterson Foundation, runs from noon Tuesday through noon Wednesday.
Donors may use a debit or credit card and give $25 and up at givingpartnerchallenge.org.
The education-related non-profits this year, besides Take Stock in Children, are the United Way of Manatee County and its Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Manatee; the MTI Foundation; and the Manatee Education Foundation.
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The 20-year-old Take Stock in Children, which awards about 25 college scholarships annually to needy Manatee children, has a chance to raise that number dramatically this year because of the Challenge, said its executive director, Diana Dill.
"Since this is our first time in the Challenge, any money that is donated to us up to $250 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Patterson Foundation," Dill said Monday. "Then, that total donation will be matched again by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation."
A $250 donation on the website to Take Stock in Children on Tuesday through Wednesday will turn into $1,000, Dill said.
"For every 10 people who give $250, it means that one more student will receive a four-year tuition scholarship," Dill said. "This will allow us to serve more students. The sky is the limit.
"I can't tell enough people about this," Dill added. "I would tell people, 'Please consider us. The impact will help four students rather than one.'"
Donations to the United Way of Manatee County during the Challenge will go directly to the movement to cure an alarming statistic, said Bronwyn Breightol, the senior vice president of United Way, the non-profit leading the community effort to reach grade-level reading.
"When we talk about Manatee County, we say 49 percent of children are not reading on grade level by the end of the third grade," Breightol said Monday.
First-time Challenge donors to the United Way -- or any participating group -- will have their donations matched up to $250 by the Patterson Foundation, Breightol added.
"The money will be used to improve school readiness, reduce chronic absenteeism, improve healthy readers, engage parents and prevent summer reading loss," said Sheila Halpin, a school district employee who works with the campaign for grade-level reading.
The campaign is multi-faceted, said Marisol Chang, a graduation enhancement technician in the school district.
"It could be transportation, overwhelmed parents, lack of resources or separation anxiety," Chang said. "We are just starting to understand the why's and discover a course of action."
Manatee Technical College
Each year, the MTI Foundation, which is in the process of changing its name to reflect Manatee Technical Institute's name change to Manatee Technical College, awards about 10 scholarships so young people can become police officers, firefighters, cosmetologists or many other careers.
Challenge donors who make MTI Foundation their choice will be contributing to more scholarships, said Virginia Sirocky, executive director of the MTI Foundation.
"We are a young foundation and we would like to increase that annual number of scholarships substantially," Sirocky said Monday.
"Everyone in Manatee County benefits from a skilled work force," Sirocky added. "A donation to us will increase this work force, which not only makes us better off to residents but makes us more attractive to companies thinking about locating in Manatee County."
Challenge at a glance
Donors this year can put broad searches in the Challenge website including animal related, arts, culture, human services, community improvement, education, environment, health, housing, shelter, human services and youth development, said Marilyn Howard of the Manatee Community Foundation.
"If someone wants to donate to a veterans group, for example, they would look under human services," Howard said. "People might want to do more research on the website, TheGivingPartner.org, before the Challenge."
Last year, the Challenge raised $3.12 million and, since 2012, it has raised $8 million, Howard said.
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Manatee will be hosting a live, 12-hour Give-a -Thon on Manatee Educational Television, 2501 63rd Ave. E, Bradenton.
METV's broadcast, from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, is aired on Comcast channel 19, Bright House channel 614 and Verizon Fios channels 31 or 39 and live streaming on YouTube ManateeEducationalTV or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLRFYpF3P_4
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.