Keller Williams contributes to Marco Island Academy

Sue Keller
Keller Williams officials with academy chair Jane Watt.

Keller Williams Realtors on Marco Island know that having a local high school on Marco benefits the children in the community. It also also benefits the Realtors whose business is selling property and homes.

"This not exactly a retirement community anymore," said Realtor Jim O'Donnell. "Many people buying on Marco wouldn't have bought here if there was not a local high school. So it has really turned out to be very positive for every business on the island."

"Keller Williams was one of the first business on Marco that was willing to step forward and give us that kind of financial support," said Marco Island Academy chair Jane Watt.

O'Donnell is passionate for business leaders on Marco to know the pain and anguish Watt went through to provide a first-class education and school choice for all kids. Watt's book "Fighting for Kids" that came out in February is the personal story of bringing the academy to Marco Island. O' Donnell plans to personally distribute copies to many of his business associates.

All contributions for naming rights come from individual sales agents contributing part of their commissions to the school.

"It's not the company or corporation its people like me," said O'Donnell quoting an old saying from the past, " A thousand here and a thousand there soon starts to add up. The only thing holding this school back right now is classroom space. The school facility is not covered by taxes. That's why it's important that we chip in and get it done."

Naming rights at the academy have different levels, starting at $25,000 all the way up to $700,000.

"Hopefully other businesses in our community will follow Keller Williams example to help local students by giving to the Academy," said O'Donnell. "Because the Marco Island Academy is enormously successful, it has proven to be good for the community."

Keller Williams agents' goal of raising $25,000 over three years ended up funding the first classroom in only four months

Their CEO, Cindy Griesse was so pleased she put out the word to their agents that they could name a second classroom with the goal of naming a third classroom for the upcoming school year that starts in August.

Keller Williams has taken advantage of the matching funds in place at the school. Each classroom typically costs $50,000, according to Watt. But Keller Williams has made its pledge during matching periods. Last year, an anonymous donor matched their first two $25,000 pledges.

This year Keller Williams made a pledge for a third classroom and it will be matched by Jim and Glenda Bertlysmeyer.

Mike and Wendy McCarty with the McCarty Group contributed a large gift to the academy in February. "Their gift was just the start of one gift after another from other Keller Williams agents," said Watt.