Civility is the foundation of a thriving, welcoming, and resilient community. To inspire and encourage more effective and respectful communication in our region, Gulf Coast Community Foundation created Because It Matters. Now, the Sarasota County School District is integrating this civility initiative and its cast of animated characters—The Civility Squad—throughout the school community.
Over a decade ago, Gulf Coast Community Foundation launched an award-winning civility initiative called Because It Matters. It was a campaign to improve quality of life in our region by increasing civic participation, civil discourse, and social capital, one encounter at a time. And it made a difference!
But amid change and growth in our community and a trend toward coarsening communication, both online and in person, we reimagined and reintroduced this movement for the current moment. Our initiative is rooted in the same research and objectives that informed and guided our first civility initiative. But the tools and tactics have evolved for today’s community members and communication vehicles.
Central to our campaign to nurture civility is The Civility Squad, a team of animated characters that promotes the 10 Keys to Civility, guiding principles and simple behaviors to improve the way we interact with one another. Gulf Coast has encouraged schools and workplaces across our region to launch their own civility projects. We support those efforts with professional training and an array of educational and promotional materials that feature The Civility Squad.
Sarasota County Schools has formally adopted the Civility Squad to promote positive behavior. During the 2018-19 school year, the district will emphasize different character traits each month, such as staying positive, respecting others, and saying thank you, throughout the school community—from students and teachers in classrooms to staff in transportation and food services to administrators at The Landings.
“A positive climate and a culture that promotes civility are the foundation for the highest levels of academic achievement for all students,” said Debra Giacolone, supervisor of Student Services for Sarasota County Schools. “The principles of civility will be our way of work as we move forward during the 2018-2019 school year.”
Making Civility Everyone’s Job
Gulf Coast also continues to offer civility training for employers and other organizations. For many of us, the workplace is where we spend the better part of our day, and civic clubs or associations may be where we interact the most with different members of our community. To nurture civility in these homes away from home, Gulf Coast developed a Civility Training Curriculum complete with all the materials you'll need to lead your own civility training program for employees or members. (Follow the link at the bottom of this page for a schedule of upcoming training opportunities.)
It takes all of us to nurture and sustain a culture of civility. To move our communities forward, we must embrace the differences that make our region great. Together we can encourage the next generation of elected leaders and private citizens, raise the level and tenor of public dialogue, celebrate our increasing diversity, and provide more opportunities for more people to become engaged and to volunteer in our region.
Gulf Coast Community Foundation is an affiliate of the Civility Experts Inc. Civility Experts Inc. is an international civility training group that offers online certification and the largest array of civility training tools and materials anywhere.