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The Retail Florist’s Continued Education Grant

With technology changing at the speed of light, and consumers changing the way they purchase flowers and other gifts, floral business owners need to stay current in order to successfully market their business. Whether it’s computer classes, social media classes, accounting, marketing or floral design courses, continued education is vital to survive and be competitive.


The Retail Florist’s Continued Education Grant will provide reimbursement grants to retail floral owners in the Maryland, Virginia and DC areas to continue their education through in-person industry events, community courses or webinar classes. 

Reimbursement grants awarded can be between $50 – $500 for individual business-related courses, and will be distributed as reimbursement grants.

While these grants are currently for florists in the Washington D.C./Virginia/Maryland metropolitan area, Bob and Carol have made a provision in their estate planning to support this fund with additional contributions which will expand the grant well beyond the Eastern Region.

Deadline For Applications

October 1st

Apply Now!


To apply to receive a reimbursement grant, please complete the Application Form and return it to AFE no later than October 1 of each year. 

Applications will be reviewed and recipients will be notified by December 31 if selected.

Reimbursement grants awarded can be between $50 – $500 for individual business-related courses, and will be distributed as reimbursement grants. This means the course must be paid for and completed within the year in which the application is being submitted prior to submitting an application for reimbursement.  Receipt for payment and completion certificate are required with the application. The course must have been completed within the prior 12-month period.

About the Donors

This Retail Florist Continued Education Grant was established by Bob and Carol Sharpe, retired third-generation florists from Frederick, Maryland. Sharpe’s Flowers was considered a Frederick landmark since 1930 and was in business for 84 years.

Bob and Carol closed their shop, Sharpe’s Flowers, in 2014 when they retired. Like many retailers, Bob and Carol struggled with finding the time to get out of the shop to attend industry events or continue their education. “In an industry where businesses are handed down from generation to generation, continued education is vital for success,” said Bob. Bob and Carol want to help floral businesses succeed so they worked with the Endowment to create the Retail Florist’s Continued Education Fund.

Past Recipients

The 2023 recipient was Christine Guenther, Owner of WildFlower Flower Shops in Maryland.
Chrisitine used her grant to attend the 2023 SAF Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Attending the educational sessions in Phoenix at the Society of American Florists Annual Convention this year has been immediately and hugely impactful on my business and my personal success. As a floral retailer, staying on the cutting edge of trends and best practices in the industry has been instrumental to the growth of my company, WildFlower, over the past 7 years. I try to take advantage of every available opportunity to gain industry knowledge and I am so grateful to AFE and the Sharpes’ for helping to make this possible I cannot speak more enthusiastically about the impact that regular, continued education opportunities have had on my business and team, and I would encourage other retail florists to make use of every opportunity to build and strengthen their knowledge and leadership as we usher our brick-and-mortar businesses into the future. I am thankful for opportunities like the Sharpe Retail Florist Continued Education Grant to make opportunities like this more attainable for small business owners and employees!”

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