Date ArticleType
2/15/2018 Chamber News

Leadership St. Pete® Class of 2018 to Raise Funds for Renovation Project at SailFuture Group Home for Boys


Leadership St. Pete® Class of 2018 to Raise Funds for Renovation Project at SailFuture Group Home for Boys

February 15, 2018 | St. Petersburg, FL
– The Leadership St. Pete® Class of 2018 has selected SailFuture, an innovative child welfare and juvenile justice program for teens, as the beneficiary of this year’s class project. As one of the oldest leadership programs in America and a division of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce® and its 501(c)(3) Foundation, LSP is responsible for making a difference in the community by working with a local nonprofit organization to further its goals. The project generally takes the form of a physical facility improvement for the beneficiary organization. Class members provide planning, fundraising and physical labor to execute the project.

"Our LSP classes work hard each year to demonstrate their care, concern and interest in our city. The class projects make a difference to those being served and demonstrates the intense passion our leaders have for making St. Petersburg shine," said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

SailFuture serves high-risk teenage boys in the foster care system. The program leverages challenging sailing experiences, counseling, experiential education, and long-term housing to facilitate the growth of these boys into independent, contributing members of the community. These educational opportunities are reinforced by the formation of long-term personal relationships with their teachers and the staff at SailFuture, all of whom live permanently in the home to provide support and a sense of family. From 2014-2016, more than thirty youth have participated in intensive sailing through the program, ranging from three-day sails along the coast of Florida to three-month journeys along the coast of North Africa.

“SailFuture’s mission is to transform the life outcomes of some of the most vulnerable youth in our community. The 2018 Leadership St. Pete® class will help us take our work to the next level by making improvements to our youth’s home, building a life skills workshop, and constructing a dock to house our program vessel, named “Defy the Odds.” Our boys and staff are looking forward to working alongside the Class of 2018 to accomplish these goals,” said Mike Long, executive director of SailFuture.

The LSP class, comprised of professionals from a variety of St. Petersburg businesses, toured SailFuture and met some of the boys, management and staff to discuss their needs. The home is in need of many interior and exterior upgrades to improve its curb appeal and to provide an on-site workshop for hands-on learning opportunities. These renovations are meant to reflect the safe, positive educational environment that SailFuture offers the boys it serves. Planned home improvements include exterior cleanup, painting, and landscaping, while interior space upgrades include a build-out of the existing garage to create the new workshop. The project would also include installation of a new dock so that the sailboat can be housed on site for convenience and further educational opportunities, and the in-ground pool needs repair and resurfacing to provide the boys with safe, free-time activities while at the SailFuture home. The LSP class plans to raise funds by the end of April in order to complete the project by May 19, 2018.

The 40-member LSP Class of 2018 is presently seeking donations from individuals and businesses or in-kind contributions of products or services to complete the project. Send tax-deductible funds or inquiries about in-kind donations in support of this project to Brittany Walsh ? The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce or email Please make checks payable to “LSP Project” or donate online at

Please direct media inquiries regarding Leadership St. Pete to one of the following media contacts:

Matt Dieter
LSP Marketing Committee Chair

Janette Dean
Chair, LSP Class of 2018

Tee Grizzard
Chair-Elect, LSP Class of 2019

SailFuture’s mission is to fundamentally change the life trajectory of every youth served by empowering them to change their behavior, improve their self-concept, and overcome deeply seeded trauma. Founded in 2013 initially as an after-school mentoring program for at-risk youth, the organization now operates a licensed, specialized residential care facility in St. Petersburg, FL for teenage foster youth. The program leverages challenging sailing experiences, counseling, experiential education, and long-term housing to help some of society’s most challenging boys develop into independent young men. To learn more, visit

The mission of LSP is to identify, recruit and develop leaders who represent the diversity of our city and who will assume future leadership roles in our community. The LSP program is made possible through the generous support of community partners like Duke Energy, Eckerd Leadership Development Institute, Heritage Insurance and Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, Patron Sponsors of the Class of 2018.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce®, originally founded in 1899, now serves almost 1,000 member businesses. Finding ways to create and enhance opportunities to do business in St. Petersburg, the Chamber works to improve the local economic climate and to build a thriving business environment. The Chamber is the voice of local business in St. Petersburg, providing leadership on important business and community issues.