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Continuing to Strengthen Connections as We Innovate for New Realities

Posted on June 15, 2020 by The Patterson Foundation
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the way we operate, including in philanthropy, but with every challenge comes an opportunity to step forward in new ways, innovating and collaborating to create a stronger impact.

As we each navigate COVID-19, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) continues to strengthen people, organizations, and communities — all while developing new ways to impact our world. While the pandemic has forced us to pause in-person engagements, we have an opportunity to leverage, maximize, and contribute high-tech tools that allow us to take part in the type of high-touch gatherings we all crave.

Through the span of its 10-year history, TPF has valued agility and innovation. This forward-thinking approach allows TPF to embrace this new way of living amid the pandemic and quickly move through the phases of dealing with a disaster — from coping to adapting and on to innovating.

Coping with the uncertainty and the loss of human connection, TPF has adapted by optimizing technology and finding new ways to apply digital platforms to connect with people in our community and beyond. Knowing the importance of communications to keep us engaged and aligned in our pursuit of shared aspirations, TPF tirelessly works to evolve its strategies and bring people together as we all move forward.

As TPF and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy continue to collaborate, the pandemic has necessitated a shift in plans to advance philanthropic leadership, such as the partnership’s first Spring Study Away program. TPF’s approach ensured a seamless transition from a week-long trip to the Suncoast, working hands-on with nonprofits, initiatives, and communicators in our region to a virtual learning initiative for participating students and faculty in just five days. Not only were TPF and its collaborators able to pull together its collective resources to make the virtual experience happen quickly and efficiently, but participants also embraced the opportunity fully with joyful optimism.

Each year, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) holds the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge — a collaboration that helps kids avoid the summer slide. The summer-long event engages summer camps, community partners, and students from Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties, encouraging students to read at least six books during the summer months.

As summer programs begin reopening at limited capacity, SCGLR and TPF have innovated to extend opportunities to children from asset-limited families — or those unable to attend summer programs this year — that help them stay connected to engaging reading opportunities throughout the summer and beyond. The new multifaceted approach of THIS BOOK IS COOL! to SCGLR’s summer reading efforts further demonstrates that when we keep our eyes set on the aspiration to instill the joy of reading in every child, innovation is all the more possibility-laden.

TPF understands that embracing new ideas is critical to continually meeting the needs of our ever-evolving world. Harnessing high-tech platforms and virtual experiences can connect more people, organizations, and communities to proven solutions. As we look to the future knowing that change is the only constant, we remain agile and hopeful. While these are just two examples of TPF’s initiatives, each initiative brings a fresh perspective by embracing the foundation’s five constants — caring, connecting, collaborating, contributing, and creating.

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