Sarasota Community Raises $225K for Education in South Africa

The Giving Coast

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY NOV 27, 2019

It had been young 16 year-old Leanna Knopik’s dream to return to South Africa to bring opportunity to the children and support education in some of the most rural areas. Sadly, Knopik passed away almost a year after visiting South Africa’s most remote communities, and never made it back. Since her passing, the Good Work Foundation (GWF), a nonprofit organization that provides education to thousands of children in rural South Africa, and its US-based fundraising arm, All Heart Fund, have helped expand and celebrate Knopik’s selfless venture. In particular, a biennial weekend of events known as Safari Sarasota raises significant funds for the two nonprofits and since its inception in 2013, has raised more than $600,000. These funds have inevitably allowed the GWF to expand its digital learning footprint to now have five digital learning campuses serving over 7,000 students per week. Meanwhile, funds raised by All Heart Fund leaders have helped sponsor three Sarasota County elementary school teachers to travel to South Africa and work alongside the teachers at the GFW digital learning centers.

This year, more than 900 people from the Sarasota community attended Safari Sarasota 2019, which spanned over the course of three days in October. Members of the public were invited to attend five individual Safari Sarasota events over the weekend—including celebrity guest talks and presentations from South African author, wildlife and literacy activist Boyd Varty, as well as an interactive culinary tour featuring Londolozi Game Reserve Executive Chef Anna Ridgewell who cooked up traditional South African dishes to pair with award-winning wine at the African Bush Dinner, hosted by Michael’s On East. “We were overwhelmed with the warmth and hospitality bestowed upon us by our friends from Sarasota,” said Dave Varty, Owner of Londolozi Game Reserve and GFW Chairman. “We witnessed the remarkable commitment of the Sarasota community and outpouring of generosity and support for the work we are doing in Africa.”  

Recently, it was announced that this year’s Safari Sarasota raised a total of $225,000. The funds will go towards supporting innovative education programs for children as young as kindergarten and all the way up to adulthood in remote villages in South Africa. Aside from building the additional digital learning centers, the foundation will continue to create opportunities for students to travel to larger communities and cities for higher quality educational and leadership experiences and to connect with real-life businesses. “There are not enough words to thank everyone who has supported the Good Work Foundation and the All Heart Fund. With the money raised, you can be assured it will be empowering and bringing huge opportunity to the children in some of the most rural areas of South Africa,” said Kate Groch, CEO of GFW. “To the entire Sarasota team, you are truly ‘all heart.’ What more can we say?”


Photo from Safari Sarasota 2019 event, courtesy of Sokos Social.

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