New Upper Keys Environmental Scholarship


Cultivating Tomorrow’s Stewards

In a testament to the enduring spirit of giving and community stewardship, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys is excited to announce a new scholarship in the Upper Keys. The Earth Conservation and Sustainability Scholarship (ECOS Scholarship), made possible by the generosity of Natalie Stetz Tobias and her husband Bruce, will provide a new opportunity for Coral Shores High School students, carrying forth a legacy of environmental advocacy and educational empowerment. 

The ECOS scholarship will benefit Coral Shores students interested in earth conservation or sustainability, but not limited to those specific courses of study as some industries make an impact on the environment by other means – lobbying, environmental law, research, etc. For Natalie and Bruce, this scholarship allows them to put their values into action now and in the future. According to Natalie, “Nature and the environment is so important to both of us. We hear young people express how helpless they feel when it comes to tackling our Earth’s largest issues and we’d like to encourage them to be part of the solution.” 

Natalie’s story is incredibly relatable. She admits that she was not the best student academically during her time at Coral Shores High School. But Natalie had talent, drive, determination, and a strong work ethic – all traits she used after graduation to come into her own. After achieving professional success, Natalie and her husband Bruce, now residents of Sedona, AZ, decided to give future students a helping hand. 

“I know how it was growing up there,” says Natalie. “In the Keys most everyone is connected to the environment whether it’s through personal recreation, tourism, or concern about conservation and sustainability of the fragile eco-system in the Keys or even how climate change is affecting the area. Taking forward the appreciation and awareness of our human connection to our environment is one of the most important things a student can do and we want to support students who want to use their future to make an impact on our planet’s health and well-being.” 

Natalie first turned to Stefanie Rodriguez, College and Career Counselor at Coral Shores High School to create this opportunity. Upon realizing Natalie and Bruce’s desire to have their scholarship be a permanent one, Stefanie brought Elizabeth Brown, Vice President for Philanthropy for the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, into the conversation. “It has been such a pleasure getting to know Natalie and Bruce,” says Elizabeth. “They could have chosen to establish a scholarship anywhere, and the fact that they chose to honor our Upper Keys community in this way speaks both to who they are as people and to how special this place is.” 

Natalie and Bruce chose to establish a permanent scholarship fund through their estate plans and took advantage of a grant as part of the Jean Stearns Legacy Challenge to provide the seed money for this scholarship. As Natalie and Bruce look to the future, their legacy planning serves as a reminder of the enduring power of generosity to shape a brighter tomorrow. 

For more information on how you too can participate in scholarship philanthropy, or to learn more about the Jean Stearns Legacy Challenge, please visit or contact Elizabeth Brown at the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys: or 305-809-4995. 

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