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Heights Foundation

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$1 Million Dollar Gift Made to Heights Foundation by Local Couple

Naples, FL, January 21, 2011 --( John and Mary Jo Boler, part-time Sanibel Island residents, made a $1 million donation to the building fund for The Heights Foundation’s Community and Cultural Arts Center last week. The gift puts the organization just $1.2 million away from being able to complete the $6.5 million building project. The Heights Foundation works to help transform the lives of those living in the Harlem Heights neighborhood, the Heights Center will create a hub for delivery of services.

“The Heights Center is a dream of the residents who are seeking a center of their community where families can meet, where children can take part in a dance or an art class that otherwise might not be available to them, and where adults can receive education, job training, health advocacy, social services and more,” according to Foundation Founder and Executive Director Kathryn Kelly. “We want the children in Harlem Heights to know that they are valued, and that they can act with integrity, despite their current circumstances. And then we want to give them the tools to rise above those current circumstances.”

“Quite simply, they deserve it,” said John Boler, a retired executive and founder of a global manufacturing company, Hendrickson International in Illinois. “I was born on what you would call the wrong side of the tracks and I worked hard, every job imaginable, so now I can help others with a hand.”

Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community, with children living in poverty at twice the rate of the reset of Lee County. The Heights Foundation has worked for over a decade to come alongside Heights families and work with them by promoting education, opportunity, and the arts through programs, outreach and advocacy.

Their programs create a network of care and support that helps families create deep and long lasting change, thanks to partners like community organizations, churches, social service agencies and more.

“Education is the key and children deserve that and more,” Boler said. “They deserve what this project can provide for them.”

Construction had been halted on the $6.5 million facility due to a donor whose pledge was affected by the downturn in the economy, but this latest gift and other gifts over the years brings the foundation leaders just $1.2 million from completion and allows the group to apply for New Market Tax Credits, state and federal funding that provide incentives for investment in projects with high community impact in distressed communities.

“We will resume construction of the building sooner now with this gift,” said Heights Foundation Founder and Executive Director Kathryn Kelly. “With some additional fundraising, we will be able to get started again in a few months.”

The Heights Foundation is guided by a board of directors, and the Center’s advisory committee who help steer the project.

“This is a project I am proud to be a part of,” said Victor Mayeron, board chair. “The residents of Harlem Heights ask me ‘Victor, when?’ so now I can tell them – ‘soon, very soon.’”

About the Heights Foundation
The Heights Foundation is a grassroots organization that works to break the cycle of poverty in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. The Foundation’s mission is to promote education, opportunity, and the arts through programs, outreach, and advocacy. The Foundation is focused on building a center in the Harlem Heights community to provide a place for family and community development, education and job training programs, and access to the cultural and expressive arts.

Located off Gladiolus Drive and bordered by Summerlin Road and McGregor Blvd., Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community, characterized by high poverty rate and low educational attainment. Approximately 1,200 children live in the community, with families living in poverty at a rate that is significantly higher than the rest of Lee County.

Contact Information
Heights Foundation
Carolyn Rogers
Kathryn Kelly, Executive Director,
The Heights Foundation
(239) 482-7706 or email

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