Our Mission

The foundations mission has two core initiatives. The first goal is to help students that live within single parent homes that are in need of assistance for extracurricular activities during junior high and high school. The second goal is to help seniors in high school get to college with the Fresh Start Scholarship.  The core initiatives to raise money for the foundation are based on the story of the founder of the Grilled Cheese Foundation. In a small town fishing village in The Florida Keys her family received a lot of help from the locals during  junior high  and high school.  She is paying it forward and looking for volunteers and donors that might share the same passion.

The story behind the foundation

When you have a passion you pursue it, when you have a calling you live it. Charisse Rivers Smith lives her passion every day in both her personal and professional lives. Charisse is known for being a financial advisor, UF graduate, philanthropist, wife and mother of two. She is passionate about educating people on proper financial planning as the founder of Central Florida Retirement Education and Zinnia Wealth Management. In her personal life she is the founder of the Grilled Cheese Foundation, her non-profit created to help high school students find their passions and foster their talents. 

The Story

When you’re a kid you don’t necessarily know you are living in poverty until you do. Charisse was raised, alongside her two siblings by a single dad in the Florida Keys. He was a tree trimmer, but work wasn’t always plentiful and neither was food. During one particularly rough patch Charisses father took them to a restaurant and only had enough money for them to share one grilled cheese sandwich. You could say these experiences helped shape the rest of her life. The owner of the restaurant came out and gave each of them their own grilled cheese sandwich and then something else changed. The entire community seemed to rally around this father who was devoted to raising his three young children. There were two dance studios, a few amazing moms, a local restaurant, and a couple of families that helped shape their lives. Charisse learned the value of hard work and resiliency from her father, but also the importance of community in times of need. She knew that it took hard work to achieve a goal and that the reward of self-accomplishment was priceless. Charisse also recognized that her father didn’t understand how money worked and that he could of had a different outcome if someone taught him those important lessons. Charisse made it her mission in her business to do everything she could to educate people on how they could control their future by understanding how to manage their finances. Charisse embodied the statement “knowledge is power” and “how this knowledge inspires confidence.” She has also made giving back to the community who once gave to her and her local community as part of her life as she supports local veterans, anonymously gives back during Christmas for children in need and high school students to help them pursue their dreams. 

The Foundation is now working on giving out the first Fresh Start College Scholarships to seniors getting ready to set sail for college.  The foundation's mission is to have the ability to provide three Financial Mentor Sponsorships and three Fresh Start College Scholarships by the end of 2019. By 2020 we strive to double that.