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Paul Sharff Expanded Early Learning and Partnerships in Manatee County

Paul Sharff
Paul Sharff

The late Paul Sharff will be celebrated with the Charles Clapsaddle Community Spotlight Award on March 30 at the 2022 Spirit of Manatee Awards Luncheon.

When Paul moved to Bradenton from West Virginia in 1988, no one could have predicted the legacy he would leave behind almost 35 years later.

In 2008, then-Governor Charlie Crist appointed Paul as Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County (ELC). Driven by his relentless determination to give local children the best possible chance of success, Paul grew ELC into one of the largest nonprofits in Manatee County, supporting over 6,000 children every year.

Paul advocated for more resources and grants to support ELC’s expanding community reach and education programs. In 2012, he launched Nextgen Magazine to feature the work of local nonprofits, schools, honor community leaders, and list valuable resources for parents.

In the past two years, four Mobile Educational Classrooms hit the streets to take STEAM, literacy, and other programs into the community. Paul came not only with the ideas – but the resources and determination to make them happen and collaborations with many local organizations and leaders.

He was also involved with the Manatee 100 Club, the Police Athletic League, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Advisory Board, along with the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society, the Manatee Education Foundation, the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority, and the Manatee County Tourist Development Council.

Paul loved helping local children. But nothing surpassed his love for his two sons – Ian and Evan. Our community will miss him and remember his impact on early education.