Checking in with Sarasota Cultural and Science Organization Leaders

Posted on July 14, 2011 by Laurey Stryker, Ed.D., Digital Access for All Initiative Manager

Just 17 months ago, The Patterson Foundation announced Cultural Connections with Students as one of its  inaugural initiatives.

What’s an initiative? I can tell you what it isn’t but not what it will become.

An initiative is not a grant program where individual organizations apply for funds, and it’s not a program run by The Patterson Foundation. Initiatives are based on collaboration between the initiative manager (that would be me - Laurey Stryker) and partners. In the case of Cultural Connections with Students, I work with partners to find innovative, sustainable ways to connect classrooms to our unique science and cultural assets. Initiatives are time limited with this one planned for approximately three years.

The partners include the Sarasota County School District, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, the Science Environment Council of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County as well as other science and cultural organizations. The initiative began with interviews with the partners and individual cultural and science organizations.

At the interviews, I asked what goal should this TPF initiative should consider pursuing. The organization executive directors responded with a range of ideas including:

  • Find sustainable ways to work with schools
  • Help decide how we want our students to be different
  • Encourage collaboration among schools and organizations
  • Foster better connections between curriculum and experiences
  • Do things that make a difference for student access
  • Create more fluid relationships among organizations and schools
  • Push innovation, especially through technology
  • Increase community awareness about current programs
  • Make Sarasota County a standout for using connections to help students learn
  • Help build infrastructure for on-going connections.

Organization and teacher surveys added valuable insights to these interviews. As a consequence of those initial interviews and surveys, The Patterson Foundation provided financial support to our partner organizations to build capacity for collaboration and innovation, funded development of – a new web-based resource for teachers and principals to access quality “explorations” that will be maintained by  the Sarasota School District – and funded a series of symposia to support school/organization collaboration.

You can learn more about Safari Live technology and on earlier blogs.

The Patterson Foundation also sponsored New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink for a community presentation to build awareness on the importance of inspired learning and funded Safari Live technology for organizations ready to implement and use this interactive tool.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be meeting with organization executive directors. We are approaching the half way mark for the initiative, so it’s important to check back on several fronts.

What questions do they have about the initiative and The Patterson Foundation’s approach?

What’s planned for next year?

How are we doing with the goal they thought this TPF initiative should pursue?

I’ll be sharing what I learn in a future blog.  How would you answer these questions?

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


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