Since its inception 20 years ago, Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE) emerged as a force for connecting people, sharing information, and engaging the community on issues that were central to quality of life. SCOPE embodied civic infrastructure — not on any single point or program, but rather across boundaries and between sectors. The transitioning of SCOPE’s work to local organizations and individuals who have been strengthened through its work validates the beliefs and mission of The Patterson Foundation (TPF).

In the past two decades, data has become more widely available, and conditions changed in the availability of funds since the Great Recession. All the while, the work of SCOPE became more integrated and prevalent in the community, setting up a difficult decision for its board. They recognized the progress made in civic engagement, intentional convening, and data-based decision-making. Their difficulty was tempered by SCOPE’s numerous accomplishments over the years, many of which TPF supported. TPF worked with SCOPE in a variety of ways, offering resources and providing expert assistance when needed. In looking to TPF’s past support for SCOPE, one can see how it had strengthened SCOPE and positioned its work to endure into the future.

The community’s shared aspirations for its aging population became one of TPF’s Legacy Initiatives, Aging with Dignity and Independence (ADI). Working with SCOPE, this initiative uncovered and measured the needs of older adults. That research will continue to provide the basis for current and future efforts like Age-Friendly Sarasota as more people look for ways to create a community #ForAllAges.

TPF’s support brought experts from various fields, such as The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, to our region to uncover community aspirations. Those aspirations have now been adopted into our communities DNA. TPF’s Aspirations to Actions initiative has trained more than 200 individuals to evolve community dialogue into positive actions in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. These public innovators represent the future of how planning for excellence will continue.

Most recently, TPF shared resources for SCOPE to explore its best options in this transition period. To help coordinate its messaging, TPF engaged its strategic communications partner MagnifyGood. TPF also underwrote the guidance and experience of Bill Little to SCOPE’s leadership. Its leaders benefited from the insight this support provided, helping them make meaningful, informed decisions.

SCOPE’s story is one of success — one that transcends single accomplishments or projects. It is like a single oak whose acorns sprout and grow to become even mightier trees. SCOPE’s numerous studies and resources will live on and remain accessible to the community. The Boundary Crosser event, an annual opportunity to honor someone who personifies working, playing, and doing beyond their core zone, will continue.

The story of SCOPE may appear to have a conclusion, but it’s just the first of many volumes in the larger story of community engagement. Elements like the data SCOPE collected and provided, its training sessions, and the expertise it nurtured all share one common theme: people. Individuals are at the center of any community, and their ability to connect, learn, share, evolve, and strengthen sets the stage for emerging possibilities. Our region will continue to benefit from the efforts of those who created, supported and worked with SCOPE.

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