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M/I Homes joins LWRCF's Builders Give Back program

The Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation now has 10 builders participating in the program, which will boost grants given to local nonprofits.

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Schroeder-Manatee Ranch continues to make the Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation, which was founded by former CEO and President John Clarke in 2000, a top priority.

And it's not just the money that SMR provides through its Lakewood Ranch Communities, which matches $100 per closing by any builder that belongs to the LWRCF's Builders Give Program.

Greg Crawford, the area president of M/I Homes of Sarasota, said he attended a recent SMR builders meeting in which part of the meeting was dedicated to the importance of the Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation.

With that prompt, Crawford and M/I Homes signed up, becoming the 10th builder in the Builders Give Back program.

"We heard about it through that builders meeting," said Crawford, who has been with M/I Homes for 23 years. "That meeting is kind of a state of the union thing. They talked about how (the Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation) is a great organization.

"Lakewood Ranch has been a great community for us, so we thought this would offer us a small opportunity to give back. This community is fantastic."

Greg Crawford, the area president of M/I Homes of Sarasota, said joining the Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation's Builders Give Back program was was an opportunity to give back to the community.
Photo by Jay Heater

Builders Give Back was launched by the LWRCF in May, 2023 with seven builders participating: Anchor Builders, AR Homes, Homes by Towne, John Cannon Homes, Lee Wetherington Homes, Pulte Homes and Stock Luxury Homes.

The builders agreed to make a $100 donation per closing to the LWRCF in the name of the new homeowner. Besides that donation, the builders provide the buyers with information about the LWRCF and its goals and mission.

In April, Pat Neal's Neal Communities and Neal Signature Homes joined the program as well, bringing the amount of participating builders to nine.

The Lakewood Ranch Community Foundation has a mission of "enhancing the quality of life in and near our community by promoting philanthropy, responding to community needs and granting funds."

It does so by raising money through donations and events and then grants the funds to area nonprofits.

"They do great things," Crawford said of the LWRCF. "We thought Builders Give Back was where we could help out."

M/I Homes has 17 divisions in the U.S., including four each in Texas and Florida. The builder doesn't have any divisions west of Texas.

Currently, M/I Homes is selling homes in two communities in Lakewood Ranch, Nautique and Sweetwater. Nautique has about 40 homes remaining to sell in that village while Sweetwater has just begun its second phase and has approximately 180 homes to sell.

Crawford said M/I Homes would love to have more opportunities in Lakewood Ranch.

"SMR believes in community and they love activity," Crawford said. "They want to do things at a higher level and they hold themselves to a higher standard. It is a different feel when you drive through Lakewood Ranch."

He said the LWRCF is part of that feel.

"Community is at the heart of what we do," Crawford said. "We aim to make a meaning difference in the lives of those who call Lakewood Ranch home."

LWRCF Board President Mark Clark was not surprised that SMR prompted M/I to join the Builders Give Back program.

"SMR is an additional strategic partner (of the LWRCF) whose impact goes above and beyond its financial contributions," Clark said. "As other builders heart about the program and its success, they will want to participate in it and increase it."

Clark said the LWRCF will issue quarterly grants to nonprofits later in May. The Builders Give Back program is fueling those grants.

"it's exciting the program is expanding our ability to make an impact and our reach," he said.

LWRCF Executive Director Adrienne Bookhamer said since starting the program a year ago, the nonprofit already has reached over 500 families who have moved into the area.

She said that with more builders joining the program, "we can support even more local life-changing nonprofit organizations in the area."

With the area growing at a brisk pace, she noted that the needs also will increase in areas such as human services, education, animal services, and arts and culture.

For more information about the LWRCF, go to or call 208-6799.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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