Photo: Aspirations Journalism sunsetting

Aspirations Journalism: Stories That Inspired

Posted on December 19, 2022
Through more than a decade of innovative philanthropy, The Patterson Foundation has demonstrated the importance of collaborating across multiple sectors to create meaningful impact. Among the five sectors TPF engages in its efforts, the media has always had a special place at the table.

The Foundation’s collaborations with the media pay homage to the Patterson family’s legacy and recognize the important role journalism plays in creating the connections so vital to building strong community movements. The stories they share, crafted with a commitment to integrity, have the power to strengthen audiences by providing the information and inspiration they need to take positive actions for themselves and their community.

Strengthening journalism’s ability to share those stories, therefore, has been a recurring focus of The Patterson Foundation’s work. Through the New Media Journalism initiative, the Foundation fostered innovations and conversations within the industry amid the rapidly evolving digital landscape. The SPIRE CoLab initiative that followed harnessed one of those key innovations in solutions journalism, a model that goes beyond coverage of the issues facing society and dives into the solutions actively moving the needle toward positive change within them — along with opportunities for people to get involved. SPIRE CoLab applied this model toward stories sharing the efforts of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to strengthen early literacy for children and families throughout Charlotte, DeSoto, Sarasota, and Manatee counties.

The lessons learned and partnerships formed through SPIRE were expanded upon through Aspirations Journalism, a collaboration between philanthropy and media to educate and engage people around the issues shaping the future of their community. Solutions in healthy aging, digital technology and internet access, healthcare workforce development and innovation, and grade-level reading were among the topics covered through Aspirations Journalism’s stories.

To create Aspirations Journalism’s content, The Patterson Foundation turned to the Herald-Tribune Media Group and Solmart Media — trusted media outlets with strong track records for journalistic integrity and the ability to connect with the community. This included Spanish language content developed by Solmart, which engaged our region’s Latinx population in their children’s educational journey.

Aspirations Journalism’s ability to apply this storytelling model to different topics helped strengthen engagement around timely, emerging social issues. The 2020 Census — the first count of our nation’s population in a decade — presented a major Aspirations Journalism coverage opportunity focused on the importance of sharing accurate data for the Suncoast’s future. In the months leading up to the Census, Aspirations Journalism published stories educating audiences on the vital role the data plays in determining our region’s share of congressional seats and federal funding for critical programs while informing our economic development. Beyond this, Aspirations Journalism engaged readers on ways to ensure they and their families were counted while sharing opportunities to increase Census participation in their communities.

These stories continued to keep people tuned into the topic through the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, an issue that itself became the subject of Aspirations Journalism’s coverage. Aspirations Journalism wrote stories highlighting the regional organizations and services people could turn to for the support they needed. As unequal digital access emerged as a major topic throughout the Suncoast, the coverage shifted to stories examining the issue and programs created to help people establish and maintain the connections necessary for their continued well-being.

Through both of these timely topics, Aspirations Journalism demonstrated how philanthropy and journalism could work together to educate and engage audiences toward positive community action when it mattered most. With more and more community outlets navigating the challenges of our changing media consumption habits, this model has the potential to inform similar partnerships that both sustain newsroom operations and promote the creation of socially relevant content.

As the local and national media landscape continues to evolve, Aspirations Journalism has joined New Media Journalism and SPIRE in the sunset. We are grateful to the Herald-Tribune for committing their talented staff and publishing capacity to this effort. Additionally, we are grateful for our collaboration with Solmart, which has evolved beyond Aspirations Journalism into a broader media partnership strengthening The Patterson Foundation’s initiatives for people, organizations, and communities.

While our work in this initiative has concluded, Aspirations Journalism’s emphasis on impactful storytelling remains interwoven throughout The Patterson Foundation’s initiatives and endeavors. We look forward to applying the learnings from Aspirations Journalism to strengthen the creation and sharing of more stories that spark action and impact.

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