In the Fall of 2015, a number of donors and volunteers of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation concerned with the paucity of legal and other services and information available to the immigrants came together to address the problem. The Land of Opportunity Fund (LoOF)has become a regional initiative to provide a path to help immigrant residents stabilize their lives in Southwest Florida.

Land of Opportunity Fund Timeline

October 2014

SWFCF gives grant to Amigos en Cristo to hire immigration attorney to process U Visas.

Fall 2015

SWFCF hosts meeting with Amigos and others to discuss justice gap for immigrants in SW Florida and notario fraud. Immigration study group (volunteers and donors) formed to research issue and proposed solutions.

December 2015

Workforce Now report describes future employment needs of the region.

January 2016

Anonymous donors establish endowed Land of Opportunity Fund at SWFCF to provide future grants to assist immigrants, and announce match of $50,000 for donations to fund.

Spring 2016

Study group continues research, interviews and data collection, and proposes two pilot programs: El Camino web app and Immigration Legal Services (ILS) pilot in one location. Fundraising for both begins.

August 2016

SWFCF hosts roundtable to present draft proposals for comment to those involved in immigration assistance. Work on El Camino and design of ILS continues

November 2016

Business community roundtable on Sanibel to discuss need for immigration legal assistance for island workers.

December 2016

Study group members serve as judges for international HULT prize competition for immigration and refugee solutions at FGCU

December 2016

landofopportunityfund.org website launched

January 2017

study group members facilitate and participate in immigration forum at FGCU with musicians from Gulf Coast Symphony

February 2017

Sister Maureen Kelleher (Legal Aid of Collier Co) and SWFCF CEO Sarah Owen speak at Florida Philanthropic Network annual conference about immigration initiatives

March 2017

ILS Heights Center pilot launched with Attorney Lindsay Ray from Amigos en Cristo, funded by major donor

May 2017

Informational workshop on immigration with United Way agency representatives

June 2017

Meetings in Hendry County re: possible ILS pilot to cover Hendry, Glades, East Fort Myers

August 2017

nonprofit CEO hired to do pilot program evaluation report

November 2017

SWFCF CEO and study group members met in Miami with IMPAC Fund and Americans for Immigrant Justice

November 2017

SWFCF CEO at Miami Immigration Summit

December 2017

Revised El Camino web-app and LandofOpportunityFund.org website

December 2017

SWFCF hosts roundtable to discuss need and options for rural immigration legal services in the region.