Photo: Beyond the Check
Photo: Beyond the Check
Photo: Beyond the Check
Photo: Beyond the Check
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Electives — Beyond the Desk: Advancing Community Change


Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Electives — Beyond the Desk: Advancing Community Change


Through a collaboration with The Patterson Foundation and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, "Beyond the Desk: Advancing Community Change" is a one-credit course that allows students to dive deep into how the foundation works with President and CEO Debra Jacobs.


An impactful leadership-development experience based on The Patterson Foundation's approach, the course explores how we can advance community change by imagining what's possible in philanthropy when we engage with communities, work across sectors, and foster wide participation around shared aspirations.
Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more about this endeavor…

Why does The Patterson Foundation support a course at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy?

Through The Patterson Foundation’s unique position of having an unfettered charter, it can undertake work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do. In that spirit, supporting a course that allows students to explore ways to make an impact beyond the desk opens up possibilities for a new generation of leadership.

What does "Beyond the Desk" mean?

"Beyond the Desk" symbolizes a commitment to collaborative engagement beyond the confines of a traditional office setting, focusing on driving change within the community by working closely with its members. For over a decade, The Patterson Foundation has dedicated itself to being an integral part of the community, seeking out common goals and working to achieve meaningful, enduring transformations.

Who can take this course?

The first session of this course has been completed. The class consisted of undergraduate, master's, doctorate, and professional development students. This course is expected to be offered again Fall 2024. It will be open to anyone in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and its alumni network.

What topics will this course cover?

"Beyond the Desk" offers an immersive exploration into a foundation known for its innovative approach, featuring insights from its CEO and President, Debra Jacobs, alongside other staff and consultants. This course combines classroom dialogue with hands-on application of The Patterson Foundation's (TPF) distinctive principles and philanthropic strategies. It aims to dissect how collaborative efforts can catalyze community transformation. Through assignments and discussions, participants will be encouraged to reimagine the possibilities of philanthropy by actively involving communities, bridging various sectors, and cultivating wide participation around common goals. Key areas of focus may encompass:
  • Issues → Aspirations, Discovering our future
  • Outputs → Outcomes, Activities to impact
  • Enabling → Engaging, Achieving sustainable impact
  • Scarcity → Abundance, Mobilizing assets
  • Silos → Systems, Acting in collaboration with others

What one-credit courses has The Patterson Foundation offered with Lilly Family School of Philanthropy?

Since 2020, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) has partnered with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to offer specialized one-credit courses aimed at redefining philanthropy beyond monetary contributions. The inaugural course, "Beyond the Check" (BTC), launched in 2020, engaged students across all academic levels in exploring the principles of network building, values-driven work, and strategic communication, among other key topics, over six weeks. This approach emphasized TPF's dedication to fostering community change through collaborative efforts and innovative thinking. The follow-up iteration in Fall 2023 continued this trajectory, offering nine graduate students a hands-on learning experience that deepened their understanding of TPF's unique approach to engaging and collaborating with communities. Each course iteration is built on TPF's decade-long commitment to discovering shared community aspirations and creating lasting change, thereby showcasing the Foundation's expansive view of philanthropic work.

What have students shared about their experience in the course?

Students valued the diversity and perspectives featured in "Beyond the Check." The lessons held over the six weeks cultivated opportunities to make lasting connections with leaders in philanthropy while learning from their experiences. Through the course, the students learned creative, innovative ways to practice philanthropy that complemented their robust coursework at the school:

"Some of the themes I know I will carry with me into my future work include joyful stewardship, never arrive with the answer, change happens at the speed of trust, seek opportunities to build connective tissue, be IN community, and always ask, who else cares?"

"I want to take this opportunity to thank TPF for the time and energy you have put into this course. The content has been outstanding and incredibly useful. I truly appreciate your willingness to openly share the tools presented throughout 'Beyond the Check.' Your passion for your organization and those you serve is contagious. I look forward to staying connected and expanding our connective tissue."

"The last six weeks with the incredible professionals, consultants, and speakers from TPF has exceeded expectations. I have learned valuable techniques, exposed to different perspectives when working with foundations, nonprofits, or projects. I have made strides in personal and professional growth from participating in the 'Beyond the Check' course."

Who can I contact to learn more about The Patterson Foundation’s relationship with IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy?

For more information, contact Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative lead Dr. Donald R. Bowman:

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