While working on The Patterson Foundation (TPF) initiatives and on the impact of its work, it is easy to see how very different TPF is from other foundations. Rather than having grant cycles that fund programs, TPF’s strategy is to strengthen people, organizations, and communities by investing in connecting, learning, sharing, and evolving efforts to identify and advance common aspirations.
TPF recognizes the importance of investing in learning – because the time spent asking, exploring, listening, acquiring knowledge, and learning builds mutual understanding, and mutual understanding fosters the development of trust. With trust, new and shared possibilities can begin to emerge. If you are asking, how does TPF do that? I did too. Here are just a few ways TPF invests and creates impact from learning:
Building skills and Investing in learning from proven practices
• Aspirations to Actions (A2A) –TPF has supported hundreds of people representing diverse geographic areas and issues in Southwest Florida participating in learning labs. With the expertise of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a nonprofit advancing positive community action by inspiring us to “turn outward,” the community is the reference point for change. These approaches are translating into community dialogue and positive actions across the region.
Learning from and within investments
• Student Emergency Fund (SEF) – Fifty percent of children (21,000 students) in Sarasota County qualify to receive free or reduced meals at school. With the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, TPF established the Fund to help children overcome challenging economic circumstances. Though the original concept was to have moneys circulate in and out of the fund, it became possible to endow a fund from many donors allowing resource availability in perpetuity. TPF’s investment of $444,000 had a different and better long term result.
• Sarasota Bayfront – TPF has provided consulting support of this multi-sector community-focused effort dedicated on advancing the vision and guiding principles for the development of forty-two acres of bayfront in Sarasota. TPF then expanded its support with a $300,000 catalytic investment to continue the learning and use of effective processes.
Other ways TPF demonstrates its commitment to learning
• Its consultant model allows TPF to facilitate the discovery of shared aspirations. This model emphasizes cultivating the environment for learning and sharing among people and organizations to employ meaningful processes to discern the best solutions together.
• Debriefs and knowledge sharing sessions are part of TPF’s organizational fabric. Initiative participants routinely gather to debrief, exploring what do we do well? What could be improved?
• Identifying lessons learned is a part of TPF’s culture. Mistakes are shared and recognized as valuable contributions to improve performance.
Last, if you wish to learn more about the impact of TPF’s investments in learning, go to TPF’s website. You will find hundreds of blogs, full of evidence of the vitally important role of learning in this extraordinary philanthropic organization.
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