Dr. Alex Harris, co-founder and CEO of St. Petersburg’s Arts Conservatory for Teens (ACT), reacted to Thursday’s gift of $100,000 from First Home Bank with a combination of happiness and gratitude.
“It was an excellent day,” he said, and made even more excellent by the addition of another $100,000 given to ACT from Mark Berset, CEO of Comegys Insurance.
“We’re grateful that we’ve had such great partners in the community, who believe in what the arts can do in transforming (young) lives, and preparing them for the creative workforce,” Harris said.
The ACT/First Home Bank relationship, which began with financial literacy seminars, expanded in early 2021 when Harris joined the bank’s board of directors and First Home VP and Community Engagement Officer Valerie Fulbright joined the ACT board.
“Before First Home became a known brand in downtown St. Petersburg, I had a chance to meet the CEO, Anthony Leo, at Kahwa Coffee on 2nd Avenue,” Harris explained. “So that’s been about a five-year development in the making.
“He introduced his vision, and I shared my vision, as I often do.”
The Berset family, he added, was a “founding family “of ACT, when it launched in 2012. “You have to find people who believe in the vision, and are willing to rock with you. They’ve been with us for 10 years, next year, and we are just so grateful to have such believers in our community, along with the others who have joined the journey.”
The Arts Conservatory For Teens is an arts-based after school program for disadvantaged and at-risk youth that works under a contract with Pinellas County Schools.