United Sarasota looks to the future of aspirations to actions

United Sarasota looks to the future of aspirations to actions

Posted on April 04, 2016 by Mary Simmons-Mack

Editor's Note: Mary Simmons-Mack one of our region's public innovators and is a member of the United Sarasota community engagement group. 

As we embark on a second year of Aspirations to Actions, I'd like to reflect on the first year of our community engagement work as it helps us plan for the future. What did we accomplish? What did we miss? When I was first invited to The Harwood Institute's public innovator's workshop, I was curious about how this initiative would impact our community work. It was a different experience for me, but I was all ears.

Following the workshop, our group, United Sarasota, started to come together. We began hosting meetings, addressed the issues in the community, mapped out our strategies for the year and put it all into action. A daunting task, but I believe we accomplished so much more than we expected.

The most important part of our strategy was to gather partners. North Sarasota County is so much larger than most of us envision. That meant that we had to reach far and wide for partners. Our areas of focus were: health, education and, of course, economic development. Mathematically, they were all a part of a set.

Yes, United Sarasota is that “sweet spot.” We will continue to take action on the issues concerning our communities. When all the elements came together, we were able to get a lot done.

United Sarasota's accomplishments include:

  • Community Safety and Relationships with Police Officers event held at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
  • Educational Achievement Gap and Innovative Solutions event held at Booker High School
  • Healthcare – Addressing Disparities in Health and Wellness held at Robert L. Taylor Community Complex
  • Economic Development and Opportunities for Economic Achievement held at the North Sarasota County Library

For year two, we are going to build on these accomplishments. We certainly can’t say enough about our student volunteers who were scribes in our meetings, took surveys and distributed the results. These are the things we’re going to build on.

As part of our action plan for the coming year, United Sarasota will:

  • Canvas the communities (city and county) to find out what issues are paramount and can possibly be resolved within the next year (survey)
  • Begin to have joint (city and county) community forums addressing common issues that are faced by residents & businesses in North Sarasota County. We will get in contact with the neighborhood associations.
  • We would like to invite other organizations to join us in the The Harwood Institute's process. We want to find solutions and act on them. Our focus will continue to be health, education and economic development

Stay tuned. Boots are already on the ground.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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