Sunflower Creative Arts

227 N Dixie Blvd.
Delray Beach,  Florida     33444

Web Site:  www.sunflowercreativearts.org



The mission of Sunflower Creative Arts is to empower children to be confident, creative and compassionate through Play, Nature and the Arts.

Strategies for Achieving Mission:

* To provide children with opportunities for learning through play, nature, and the arts, while increasing the community's understanding of the importance of these experiences for healthy child development.

* To model a family learning community which celebrates the role of play, creativity and individuality in childhood.

*To promote play, which is fast disappearing from kindergartens and even preschools. Play lays the foundation for the 21st century skills children need - skills like collaboration, problem solving, communication, creative innovation and confidence.

* To provide developmentally appropriate play, nature, and arts based learning programs for children from babies to teens which are accessible to all, regardless of income.

* To provide theatre programs which nurture children's ideas and creativity and help them gain confidence and self-awareness.

* To provide a free Roots & Shoots service club for children as a way to foster engaged, active young people who care about and take action for our community.

* To provide parent education and support about child development, positive communication and problem solving skills.

* To provide community education about child development, play based learning, the importance of the arts and nature experiences for children, communication and peaceful problem solving skills.

Our vision is to help create a future in which each child is strong and resilient, develops his or her unique creativity to the fullest extent possible, and has the skills to communicate and problem solve in a positive way.


In 2003, after running successful programs for children and families for 10 years in Boca Raton, FL., Susan Caruso and some close associates decided to form a nonprofit organization in order to meet the needs of children, parents and teachers in the wider community.

In 2015, after renting space since 2003, Sunflower purchased and renovated a property in Delray Beach in order to serve more families and spread the Sunflower educational model. Sunflower began operations in Delray Beach in August 2015. This move more than doubled Sunflower's capacity to serve young children and their families.

Since receiving 501(c)(3) status in 2003 we have:

* served over 750 children and their parents in our early childhood/parenting program called Seedlings

* served over 450 children and their parents in our toddler program, Little Sprouts

* won the 2014 Environmental Education Program of the Year award from the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center

* won a Most Green with the Least Green award in 2010 and a Judges Green Harvest award in 2011 from the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties

* collaborated on various community projects with five other local nonprofit organizations

* provided over 140 parenting workshops and 8 extended parenting classes

* sponsored teacher and parent workshops in south Florida featuring nationally recognized child education experts Bev Bos and Dr. Dan Gartrell

In addition:

Our free Shakespeare for Everyone program, begun in 2008, has performed 9 times for after school students, seniors, and for the public at large.

Children in our free Roots & Shoots community service clubs, begun in 2008, have grown vegetables at a local community garden and delivered them to a soup kitchen, organized Earth and Peace Day events, gleaned tomatoes and corn, and cleaned up parts of a local nature preserve.


All of our programs offer opportunities for kids and their parents to learn life skills --like effective communication, conflict resolution and problem-solving-- in a creative, fun, hands-on environment. Particular attention is given to respecting the individual and creating a sense of cooperation and belonging.

The following is a sampling of our programs:

SEEDLINGS- ages 3 to 6
Seedlings is an early childhood program that focuses on the development of the whole child. Adults practice parenting skills through hands-on participation. Our play-based learning environment nurtures imagination, science and nature exploration, arts expression and literacy, while giving children and parents tools for empowered communication and peaceful problem-solving skills.

ROOTS & SHOOTS - ages 5 to 12
Our Shooting Stars group, ages 12 and younger, join Jane Goodall's worldwide kids' activist groups working together to create hands-on local service projects. Each project shows care and concern for the environment, animals or the human community. Free program.

WE LOVE SHAKESPEARE! - ages 8 to13

Through theatre games and improvisation we explore characters, argue over the meaning of a scene, play with the themes of different plays and wallow in the beauty and emotions of Shakespeare's poetry and prose. There is no pressure to memorize which allows our young actors to concentrate on bringing the characters and stories to life.


A series of workshops presented by director Susan Caruso to support parents in the joyful and challenging task of raising children. Each session will focus on current research, real life examples, sharing ideas with other parents and developing a personal parenting action plan.

SUNFLOWER BABIES - ages 0 to 16 months

Parents share and learn in a supportive environment with families going through the same joys and challenges. Conversations focus on postpartum adjustment, sleeping, partner relationships, development, and more. Free program.


Nearly all of our programs rely heavily on volunteer support. This serves many purposes. Most importantly, it helps us fulfill our mission by involving parents in their children's education and growth. It also helps create a vibrant parent and caregiver community for learning and support, and it lowers operating expenses.

Our Seedlings and Little Seedlings programs are parent co-operative programs. Parents in Little Seedlings contribute 14 hours a week, 36 weeks per year. Parents in Seedlings contribute 70 hours a week, 36 weeks per year. This equals 3,024 hours per year.

Our Theatre programs also involve parents and in the process foster a supportive parent community. Parents in our theatre programs contribute approximately 50 volunteer hours per year.

Volunteers in our Roots & Shoots community service clubs for kids have contributed approximately 240 hours per year, since 2008.

Sunflower's seven person Board of Directors serve in a volunteer capacity and meet monthly. Sunflower has office and fundraising volunteers as well, who help with mailings, events, shopping and errands. During the past year and a half Sunflower formed an Advisory Board to help the organization purchase a property and transition from renting to ownership and from Boca Raton to Delray Beach. Sunflower also formed a Capital Campaign committee to help fund this move. Both groups are composed of volunteers.

We estimate that in total we have over 100 active volunteers contributing over 3,500 volunteer hours per year.



Goal #1

In February 2015, after renting for 22 years, Sunflower achieved its goal of purchasing a property of its own. Renovations were begun in the spring of 2015 with a planned opening in August. The organization's first goal is to conduct a smooth operational transition to this new home in Delray Beach. This new facility will provide an ideal environment for play, nature and arts based learning for children and become a valuable model for parents and teachers who want to incorporate more play, nature exploration, and experiential learning into their homes, classrooms and school yards.

This move represents a major expansion for the organization. Sunflower's Seedlings early childhood program will grow greatly with this move. The Seedlings program will jump from a 3 days a week to 5 days a week and from 18 hours a week to 35 hours a week. The number of children and families served will increase. New teaching staff will be hired for the Seedlings program, the Finance Director's hours will increase and the Office Administrator/Family Liaison hours will increase. More staff time will be devoted to parent education and support in order to meet the needs of a greater number of families.

Teaching peaceful communication and problem solving skills to both parents and children will remain a top priority. Creating an intentional community of families who help and support each other will also remain a core goal of the organization.

Programs for children under 3 and their parents/caregivers will expand as well. Sunflower's We Love Shakespeare! and Roots & Shoots programs for older children will continue.

Goal #2

To begin a new outreach program to local Universities in order to share the Sunflower educational model.

Sunflower's new center will provide a unique opportunity for student teachers to see play-based, child-directed, experiential learning take place. Direct instruction and seat work are becoming more prevalent in preschools as well as kindergartens, despite overwhelming child development research confirming that young children learn best through play in all its forms.

There is no other program in our area like the Seedlings program. It is a unique model of early childhood education and provides a chance for the next generation of teachers to see young children learning the foundations of early science, math and language skills through play - by experimenting, exploring, creating, and using all their senses. Sunflower will begin this outreach by connecting with Lynn University and expand from there.

An internship program for student teachers and those interested in teaching will be started in the summer of 2016.

Goal #3

To make progress on the Capital Campaign goal of raising $1,000,000 to help pay for Sunflower's new home in Delray Beach.

Sunflower secured financing in order to purchase its new property, with a plan to conduct a capital campaign to pay down the debt. The property represented an excellent opportunity for the organization, but there wasn't time to conduct a campaign prior to the purchase.

Reducing the debt will allow the organization to put more funds into programs and outreach and will help Sunflower achieve its goals of providing more nature, play and arts based programming, serving more families, and conducting more outreach and education in the broader community.

As Marcy Guddemi Ph.D., MBA, leading Child Development expert states, "We know that play lays the foundation for the 21st century skills children need - skills like collaboration, problem solving, communication, creative innovation and confidence."

Many of our current educational standards and practices are out of sync with what young children need to truly thrive - there's too much early academic pressure and it's not only ineffective, but often counterproductive and harmful.

* Major studies by the Gesell Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Alliance for Childhood all advocate increased playtime and experiential learning for children.

* The Children and Nature Network website links to hundreds of new studies demonstrating the myriad benefits of time spent in nature for children.

* There is a growing creativity crisis among America's children, linked to factors such as early high pressure academics, increases in television viewing by children, and the decline in child-led unstructured play.

With a successful capital campaign, Sunflower can direct more financial resources to outreach and education in these vital areas.


Anti-Discrimination Policy

Organization Ascribes to the Anti-discrimination Policy:

Jennifer Ligeti

Geographic Area:

Palm Beach County
Central Palm Beach (Lantana to West Palm Beach)
South Palm Beach (Boynton Beach to Boca Raton)
Western Palm Beach (Royal Palm Beach/Wellington to the Glades Area)

Population Served:

General population

Interest Areas:

Arts and Culture
Confirmed in compliance with National Standards for U.S Community Foundations
700 South Dixie Highway, Suite 200, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 | 561.659.6800