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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019 3 months ago

Sarasota man receives $20,000 grant for Boys & Girls Clubs

Jim Martin has been a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County for more than 15 years.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

Jim Martin has dedicated more than 15 years to volunteering for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County.

He has served on committees, helped create videos and was integral to the start of Students Taking Active Roles’ Leadership Training Program in 2016.

As a result, the 36-year-old was recently named one of seven 2019 Maytag Dependable Leaders, and with the award came a $20,000 grant that will go toward the STAR program.

Jim Martin with Leonela Tase Sueiro, who is Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County’s 2019 Youth of the Year.

STAR is a 65-hour training program that helps high school-aged students expand leadership skills and encourages them to become civically engaged.

“[We’re] ensuring that youth are on a trajectory that’s going to set them up for opportunities in the future, make them even more comfortable in their own skin, … and they’re connected with individuals that truly care about them that want to see them succeed,” Martin said of the program.

The STAR program has spring, summer and fall sessions held on Saturdays. 

Each offers 15-20 students classes on topics including public speaking, team building and problem solving.

Students also get the chance to meet with local government officials to learn about what’s happening in their community and how local governments function.

Graduates of the program are eligible to serve as voting members of county, city and nonprofit boards or committees.

Former Pine View School student Gia Douglass, 17, graduated from the STAR program in her freshman year of high school. She said the lessons she learned helped her earn spots on the board of directors at Oscar Scherer State Park and The Sarasota Technology Users Group.

Now a freshman at Babson College in Massachusetts studying business, Douglass said her time in the program helped her receive an internship with Martin’s company Captivation Agency. She said her internship expanded her computer coding skills that helped her transition into her college courses. 

Martin hopes to grow the STAR program throughout Florida and eventually take it to the national level, and he said the $20,000 grant is a first step.

Through the grant, the clubs plan to hire additional staff and expand the curriculum for the program, which Martin said will allow the program to serve more youth and appeal to other clubs.

I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

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