In 1955, Sarasota residents Bill and Marie Selby made a remarkably prescient decision that continues to shape our region to this day. As the aging, childless couple considered who would inherit their amassed fortune, they had a radical idea: instead of distributing their funds to distant relatives, they left the entire sum to their beloved community of Sarasota by establishing the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. While family foundations are relatively commonplace today, their May 1955 registration was among the first in Southwest Florida, further cementing their reputation as a forward-thinking and sometimes unorthodox couple. At the time, the Selbys may not have realized just how significant this decision was, but today, one cannot spend much time in Sarasota without encountering the Selby name.
From the world-famous Selby Gardens to the Selby Library; through countless rooms, swimming pools and parks which bear the Selby name, and including thousands of Selby scholarship recipients who may not have otherwise earned a degree, evidence of their generosity is everywhere. In the 62 years since Bill and Marie created the Foundation, over $120 million dollars has been awarded to various charities and scholarships in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. And thanks to the incredible powers of compound interest and careful management, the Foundation continues to grow despite these sizable donations. It now makes about $3 million in new grants and scholarships every year.
By investing in people through academic scholarships and supporting capital projects of local organizations,
the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation looks beyond what is and enables change for what can be.