The Challenge for Changing Lives

In recognition of Children First’s milestone 60th Anniversary in 2021, the agency announced a matching campaign called The Challenge for Changing Lives.

The matching gift challenge was led by the Diamond Circle, a dedicated group of extraordinary supporters leading the charge in advancing the mission of strengthening children and families.

Girl playing in a playground
Two girls posing for a photo at a park

The Diamond Circle combined their support totaling $1,060,000 to inspire the community by matching every gift, dollar for dollar, raising over $2.3MM in honor of Children First’s trailblazing work in our community.

It was the first matching campaign of its kind that the agency embarked upon and led to hundreds of individuals and couples, private foundations, and corporations committing their support, all within our local community.

The Sarasota community recognized the incredible accomplishments through this challenge match campaign by honoring Children First and the Diamond Circle with SRQ Magazine’s Good Hero Philanthropic Award.

The key philanthropists comprising the Diamond Circle membership include: two anonymous donors providing gifts totaling just over $300,000; individuals, couples and foundations providing gifts of $60,000 each including: Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Dawn and Mitchell Epstein, Julie and Brock Leach, Joan and Dr. Bart Levenson, Katherine and Frank Martucci, Elenor Maxheim in loving memory of John Maxheim, Keith Monda and Veronica Brady, Leslie and Dick Rivera, Gaye and Jack Schwarz, and Karen Solem in loving memory of Charles Forman; couples joining together to form Diamond Circles with combined gifts from $20,000 to $30,000 including: John Bean and Alexandra Jupin, Lisa and John Giglio, Carol and Richard Kalikow, and Bob and Lin Williams; and couples and individuals comprising a Diamond Circle with gifts from $10,000 including: Alison and Howie Madsen in loving memory of Gerri Aaron, Jo and Stan Rutstein, Mike Rutstein, and CEO Philip Tavill.

“The shared commitment from our Diamond Circle members and all who joined The Challenge is an investment, not just in the futures of our children and families, but the future of our community and the world we live in. As we celebrate Children First’s 60th Anniversary, we are deeply grateful for this heartfelt support that will result in social, educational, and economic dividends now and well into the future,” says CEO Philip Tavill.

“It has been amazing to see this trailblazing philanthropy from some of our most passionate supporters inspire a community-wide challenge that was not just met but exceeded,” says Vice President of Philanthropy Jessica Rogers. “This is a beautiful representation not just of this historic milestone for our agency, but of the greater Sarasota community’s vision to create equal access to opportunities so that all can thrive.”

Children First’s Diamond Circle and its vital leadership live on through the agency’s Changemaker Collective, an annual matching campaign that supports Children First’s comprehensive services needs.


Our deep appreciate to the Diamond Circle Members who made The Challenge for Changing Lives possible with a collective $1,060,000 match, and to the members of our community who met this challenge.

Children First Diamond Circle

Children First Diamond Circle (60 years)
    • Anonymous
    • Anonymous
    • Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation
    • Dawn & Mitchell Epstein
    • Brock & Julie Leach
    • Joan & Dr. Bart Levenson
    • Katherine & Frank Martucci
    • Elenor Maxheim, in Loving Memory of John Maxheim
    • Keith Monda & Veronica Brady
    • Dick & Leslie Rivera
    • Gaye & Jack Schwarz
    • Karen Solem, in Loving Memory of Charles Forman
    • John Bean & Alexandra Jupin
    • Lisa & John Gigilo
    • Carol & Richard Kalikow
    • Bob & Lin Williams
    • Alison & Howie Madsen, in Loving Memory of Gerri Aaron
    • Jo & Stan Rutstein
    • Mike Rutstein
    • Philip Tavill