The Family Friendly Virtual Business Awards on Oct. 19 spotlights workplace policies that help children thrive

St. Petersburg, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2021) – Thrive by Five Pinellas, a nonprofit with a mission to support families with young children, will host the first annual Family Friendly Virtual Business Awards Oct. 19 to honor 24 area companies that have taken the lead in implementing family-friendly policies in the work place.

Thrive by Five Pinellas, which recently became a part of the Community Foundation Tampa Bay, will honor the businesses for workplace practices that nurture families. The event, taking place from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m., showcases Pinellas employers whose policies have a direct impact on the ability of caregivers to support their child, which, in turn shape that child’s healthy development.

“We’re proud to recognize family-minded employers who understand the value of a well-educated, happy and healthy workforce in building a strong economy,” said Thrive by 5 Pinellas director Dr. Bilan Joseph, Ed.D.

Thrive By Five Pinellas defines a family-friendly workplace as one that creates value for employees, employers, and the local economy. In addition, it increases completion of postsecondary education, raises labor force participation, enhances workforce productivity, and helps businesses attract and retain talent – all while ensuring that children have the chance to develop well and begin kindergarten ready to thrive in school, work, and life.

“We want to give the best start possible to the children who will grow up to lead our communities and support our economy. Healthy childhood development sets the trajectory for long-term health and success,” said Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Community Foundation Tampa Bay, which is now the backbone organization for Thrive By Five Pinellas. “And these awards recognize the local companies doing exceptional work in this vital space.”

The awards will feature keynote speaker Madeleine Thakur, President of the Children’s Movement of Florida. Bay News 9 reporter Trevor Pettiford will moderate a panel discussion that includes leaders from three companies being honored:

– Dianne Jacob, Senior Vice President of PNC Bank;

– April Lott, CEO of Directions for Living;

– Lindsay Carson, CEO of Pinellas Early Learning Coalition.

Additional speakers include: Clearwater City Council member Kathleen Beckman, Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Chamber, and Eddie Gonzalez-Loumeit, CEO of Tallahassee-based national healthcare technology company Ruvos, an innovator in family-friendly programs.

“CEOs and entrepreneurs shouldn’t ask their HR departments what their employee count is – ask them how many children or grandchildren your employees have. It really changes your perspective,” said Gonzalez-Loumeit. “We have 80 employees, which means 80 families. We have 44 children who are associated with our company.”

Gonzalez-Loumeit has implemented a number of family-friendly practices at Ruvos, starting with formulating a strategic plan for families and early education for children of employees. The company includes regular activities such as sending age-appropriate books to children and having employees reading to children via Zoom, and a policy that insists employees take a minimum of 10 paid leave days with no set cap on the maximum – encouraging them to spend quality time with their families.

The companies being honored in the virtual award ceremony include:

– Platinum (Distinguished Leader) – Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas, PNC Financial Services, and T’s Future Stars Early Learning Childcare;

– Gold (Committed Leader) – Accelerated Learning Centers of America LLC, City of Largo, Clearwater Pediatric Care, Community Foundation Tampa Bay, Directions for Living, Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, Hope Academy International, and Hope Villages of America (RCS Pinellas);

– Silver (Rising Leader) – 211 Tampa Bay Cares, Barlow Little Palms Preschool, Belleair Montessori Academy; BHW Trucking; Creative Learning Center; Oakhurst Learning Center; WorkNet Pinellas Inc., d/b/a Career Source Pinellas, and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.

– Bronze (On the Pathway) – Academy Child Care, Butterfly Kids College, Leap of Faith Christian Preschool II, Skycrest Development Center, and The Learning Fort.

The Rays Foundation and The Children’s Movement are sponsors of the Family Friendly Virtual Business Awards. To register for the event, visit https://bit.ly/3zivln1

About Thrive By Five Pinellas

Thrive by Five Pinellas is a collective impact approach to ensure an equitable, accessible, responsive and accountable early childhood system that will increase the percentage of children in our community “ready” for kindergarten. Thrive by Five Pinellas works with diverse partners throughout the community to achieve a multi-faceted common vision, ensuring that children, families, schools, and the community are aligned in supporting the development of young children. For more information about Thrive By Five Pinellas, visit www.TB5P.org.

About the Community Foundation Tampa Bay

Founded in 1990, the Community Foundation Tampa Bay connects donors, nonprofits, community and business leaders, professional advisors, volunteers and residents to make the maximum positive impact in the Tampa Bay region. For more than 30 years, the Community Foundation Tampa Bay has been dedicated to making giving easy and meaningful for donors as a way to strengthen nonprofit organizations and build a better, more vibrant community. Since its inception, its donors have enabled the Community Foundation Tampa Bay to award more than $280 million in grants to nonprofit organizations across the country.

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