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Prominent child-focused foundation gets new headquarters

The  Naples Children & Education Foundation has been in operation for more than 20 years.

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  • | 5:55 p.m. November 11, 2021
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NAPLES — The  Naples Children & Education Foundation founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, one of the most prestigious charity wine auctions in the country, is getting a new permanent headquarters.

The organization held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Nov. 10 for the complex, a 13,500-square-foot building at 2590 Goodlette-Frank Road N., according to a statement. The facility is the new home for NCEF’s operations, which provide, on average, a $15-million investment in community programs serving more than 30,000 at-risk and vulnerable children annually. Prior to this new building, NCEF worked in rented, borrowed and donated space throughout the community.

The headquarters was completed via a collaboration of NCEF, prominent local real estate developers Fred and Alex Pezeshkan, general contractor DeAngelis Diamond Construction and John Cooney and Randall Stofft along with Renee Zepeda of Stofft Cooney Architects.

Since its inaugural event in 2001, the festival has raised nearly $220 million to go toward its long-term mission: improving the lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County. The foundation, meanwhile, has 136 Trustees, 15 employees and some 300 volunteers. NCEF also has broadened its role over the years from traditional grant-making to local charities on an annual basis by adding seven strategic initiatives to fill gaps in children’s services and develop long-term collaborative solutions, the release states.

“To meet the challenges associated with our continued growth and increasing demands, we launched a capital campaign to generate the funds needed to secure the land, construct the building and meet appropriate furniture/fixtures and equipment requirements,” NCEF CEO Maria Jimenez-Lara says in the release. “It is important to note that the capital contributions came from Trustees and community members, independent from their generous support of the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival; thereby not compromising our signature event’s proceeds, which fulfills NCEF’s commitment to supporting the children of Collier County.”

NCEF has become the single largest source of funding for essential services for at-risk and underprivileged children in Collier County, the release states. Its efforts have contributed to improvements in such areas as school attendance, standardized test scores and high school graduation rates, while dramatically mitigating rates of school suspensions, juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy, which have all declined over the last decade. The new headquarters will further develop a central hub for child wellbeing forums, educational seminars, training and non-profit development.

“Our investment in a dedicated headquarters building will establish a place of permanence and allow NCEF to build upon its momentum as the premier funding provider for youth services in Collier County,” Bob Clifford, a Lifetime Trustee who spearheaded the building project, says in the release. “We are proud to be deepening our roots in the community, ensuring a bright future for local children.”

The Naples Winter Wine Festival includes intimate dinners in private homes and the opportunity to bid on once-in-a-lifetime travel and wine experiences during a live auction.



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