Van Wezel Foundation Receives $50,000 Match/Challenge from Vern and Liliana Chalfant

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Van Wezel Foundation Philanthropists Vern and Liliana Chalfant Issue $50,000 CHALFANT CHALLENGE
Challenge to engage new donors to fulfill the Foundation’s mission

SARASOTA, December 8, 2020 – The Van Wezel Foundation kicks off its year-end giving season with a $50,000 challenge from philanthropists, Vern and Liliana Chalfant, who share a passion for arts education and integration to enhance learning. The Chalfant’s are also deeply committed to the vision of a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center to serve as a mission-based civic asset throughout the Gulf Coast region. This is a perfect example of how philanthropy can support the Foundation’s mission to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and challenges young minds. To encourage donations this holiday season and beyond, the CHALFANT CHALLENGE will match dollar for dollar new and increased contributions.

“Growing up in Colombia, I was immersed in the rich history and culture of my country and received a well-rounded education through the arts,” commented Liliana Chalfant. “Music, theater, sculpture, and painting – the arts are important to ensure the vitality of a community. We believe the CHALFANT CHALLENGE can bring people together for a greater good and is an extraordinary way to live by my family’s motto: “La unión hace la fuerza,” which means “unity creates strength.”

As a board member of the Van Wezel Foundation, Vern Chalfant is passionate that the arts can truly impact lives. “If the arts can help children from underserved communities thrive in today’s challenging world, they are a worthy investment,” he noted. “We all have a role to play to enhance the lives of children and their families and I am hopeful that the CHALFANT CHALLENGE will encourage people from all levels of giving to get involved in this important work .”

The CHALFANT CHALLENGE will be issued from December 2020 through March 2021. Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation, shares, “Through this challenge, we can extend our support for vital arts experiences that bring our mission deeper into the community. We are grateful for the Chalfant’s vision and the inspiration they bring to our community.”

To make a donation in support of arts education and take part in the CHALFANT CHALLENGE, go to to make a gift.


Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the city of Sarasota to foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. The Foundation’s mission is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. Each year, the Foundation provides grants to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to support arts education throughout our region. Together, we serve more than 35,000 students with enriching arts-based education opportunities in-person and online and professional development for nearly 250 teachers across five counties. In 2018, the city of Sarasota approved a master plan to develop 53 acres on The Bay into a vibrant, accessible park with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. The Foundation is leading The Future is Now Campaign to help the community realize the promise of the master plan and experience the new performing arts center as a civic asset for generations to come. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation and its mission, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.


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