CORTEZ – The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Business Card Exchanges are always a great opportunity for local business owners to network and get to know each other. The Jan. 26 event at the Seafood Shack in Cortez offered the added excitement of the Annual Trolley Grant Awards, which, this year, granted 15 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations cash awards of nearly $30,000.
In order to keep the familiar trolleys that carry passengers up and down the Island free of charge, the Chamber sells advertising space on the inside and outside of the vehicles. After administrative costs and expenses are covered each year, excess revenue is dispersed in the form of grants to not-for-profit organizations on the Island and in Cortez.
The annual award winners are selected by a committee and awarded annually in January based on submissions from local non-profit organizations that are due in mid-December. The program was founded by former Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker and the late David Teitelbaum of Anna Maria Island Resorts. The Chamber manages the award program with Manatee County leaders.
According to the Chamber, the Island trolleys carried more than 407,000 riders in 2022.
This year’s ceremony gave back a total of $29,341, bringing the total grants awarded to more than $447,000 since the program began.
This year’s grant recipients and their projects are:
Anna Maria Elementary School: STEAM Program (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)
Anna Maria Island Art League: Campaign to add artists and attendees to the Springfest art festival
Anna Maria Island Garden Club: Design and installation of an outdoor plant interpretive panel
Anna Maria Island Privateers: Testore the Skullywag landbound pirate ship
Annie Silver Community Center: Technology upgrades at its Bradenton Beach community center
Artists Guild Gallery of Anna Maria: Restroom renovations at the gallery
Cortez Village Historical Society: Orientation and reference materials to recruit new docents and for hiring a consultant to assist
Florida Maritime Museum: Stories from the Gulf Coast Commercial Fishing Industry in Cortez program
Friends of the Island Library: Sprout Early Learning Backpacks for children
Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria: Kiwanis Club-sponsored interdenominational Easter sunrise service
Roser Food Pantry: Sponsored food recipient program
Roser Memorial Community Church: Vacation Bible School
Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island: Anna Maria Elementary Peace/Conflict Solutions for Good Citizens program
The Center of Anna Maria Island: Beyond Classroom offerings
Wildlife Inc.: Care and feeding of animals