Innovating like a startup and connecting to the community

Innovating like a startup and connecting to the community

Posted on April 11, 2016 by The Patterson Foundation

Editor's Note: Bill Church is the executive editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the southeast regional editor of GateHouse Media, the parent company of the Herald-Tribune.

The Herald-Tribune’s mantra – “innovate like a startup” – reflects the brave, new world of journalism, where it no longer takes a printing press for a story to have widespread (and immediate) impact.

SPIRE CoLab, funded by The Patterson Foundation, is a connection between journalism, philanthropy and community.

SPIRE CoLab is a …


  • Partnership between journalism and philanthropy that engages community to take action on relevant issues.  This is the position we’re taking, that communities become stronger when we work together.



  • Starting point for community discussion. We’ll initially ask how media can inform actions that lead to better reading and education outcomes for children and families.



  • Noun that acts like a verb. SPIRE CoLab, stands for syndicate, partner, innovate, resolve and engage. The aspiration is to create content and resources that inspire communities to engage and drive change -- both locally and beyond.



  • Collaboration in innovation. We’re experimenting with the formula for media, philanthropy and community engagement. We’re more than a lab project, though. That’s why we’re a CoLab.


SPIRE CoLab will be managed by the Herald-Tribune Media Group’s newsroom as a hands-on trustee, meaning it will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and interactions of The CoLab. Think of it as a newsroom within a newsroom.

SPIRE CoLab’s impact will be driven by key priorities:

Be a motivator: Draw upon the power of transmedia storytelling to motivate audiences to engage and drive community change.

Be a syndicator: Deliver meaningful and customizable story packages of interest to media partners throughout the United States by recognizing the changing media landscape offers opportunities to push content to a larger audience.

Be an innovator: Create new methods and innovative practices that spur community engagement/action.

Be a collaborator: Develop solutions-based ways and best practices for media and community thought leaders to raise awareness and align action.

That’s what makes SPIRE CoLab intriguing. SPIRE aspires to inspire.

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


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