In philanthropy, especially when you’re working in community, it isn’t often that you can see an immediate, positive impact from your work. Change happens at the speed of trust, and trust usually takes months, if not years, to build. So, when CEO Debra Jacobs approached me about conducting a discovery mission in how we could honor The Patterson Foundation Board Chair Emeritus, John T. Berteau, through a gift to his alma mater Asheville School, I saw it as a rare opportunity.

When The Patterson Foundation considers endowed funds, the focus is primarily on ensuring the sustainability of initiatives, such as the Patriot Plaza Maintenance Fund or the EdExploreSRQ funds. It was up to me to determine how TPF could work with Asheville School in creating a gift that reflects both John’s legacy as a stalwart champion for education and The Patterson Foundation values that John helped craft.

It was my good fortune that working with Asheville School (Leigh Ruhl and team) was an exercise in possibilities. When I approached Leigh with my TPF-style list of aspirations for an endowed gift in John’s name, there was a lot of “yes, and…” discussion. The Patterson Foundation envisioned that the John T. Berteau Opportunity Endowment Fund would open the door to exceptional educational opportunities at Asheville School for students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. John’s path to being a founding Governing Board member began with his access to Asheville School—made possible by a benefactor. A significant scholarship opens the door to an education and a future of possibilities.

The figure of the endowment, $1.5 million dollars, was extrapolated from the annual cost of attendance with the intention that the endowment will last in perpetuity...a simple math calculation. The more interesting part of negotiations was honing in on how to keep connected with scholarship recipients and set the expectation that they too will be a part of The Patterson Foundation’s mission to invest for lasting impact.

Beginning with the incoming freshman class of 2021–2022, recipients of the John T. Berteau Opportunity Scholarship will:
  • Write an annual update letter to The Patterson Foundation sharing how the student has expanded their horizons over the academic year as a result of attending Asheville School.
  • As appropriate, mentor younger students while attending school and after graduation to pay forward the educational experience at Asheville School.
  • Plan for a future rich in opportunity through higher education or career development programs.
The Patterson Foundation and the world beyond will benefit immensely from John’s generosity of spirit, vision, and dedication to excellence. Through the new John T. Berteau Opportunity Endowment at Asheville School, The Patterson Foundation can ensure that one bright future that continues to make a difference to us can be paid forward and contribute countless bright futures to the world.

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