Editor's Note: The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and The Patterson Foundation partnered on "The Future of the Philanthropic Sector," a special topics course for the school's students during the spring 2022 semester. The course connects students to The Patterson Foundation's innovative approach to philanthropy and nonprofits in the Sarasota area engaged in the foundation's initiatives.
The Study Away cohort’s final day in sunny Sarasota began with our usual continental breakfast and omelet bar at the Embassy Suites. A few students were putting final touches on their presentations, while others were using breakfast as a welcome reprieve from thinking about their presentations. When the clock reached 8:45am, we hustled downstairs and started walking to The Patterson Foundation, just a couple of blocks away. Philanthropy students, unsurprisingly, are a talkative bunch, and everyone was questioning each other about their upcoming presentations as we made our way to the foundation. Each team of two students had worked with an initiative that local nonprofits were engaged with. Though students only had 72 hours to act as a consultant for these projects, having a fresh set of eyes allowed each team to create unique recommendations for their nonprofits.
Our group walked into a flurry of activity at TPF as each student team was ushered into an office or meeting room. It was presentation time! As my partner Phuong-Tran began outlining her recommendations for the Charlotte Players, the faces on zoom froze. Suddenly, heads were poking outside office doors with questions about the Wi-Fi bouncing down the halls. Stacey heard the alarm calls and quickly reset the router. Beyond the initial turbulence of technological troubles, the delivery of the presentations was smooth. Within two hours, our student team had gathered in the TPF lobby to share their success. Every nonprofit organization had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of recommendations.
The post-presentation relief was palpable, but the day was not yet done! We loaded into our minivans and headed to the local community foundation to participate in a Knowledge Sharing Session. Students shared various learning moments and highlights from the week concerning LWRCC. Everyone could recite this acronym by the end: leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity, and culture. We ended the lunch by taking a group photo with the TPF team, eating cake, and saying our final goodbyes.
And then – it was Friday after 2:00pm, meaning we had thirteen hours to call our own before leaving our hotel at 3:00am for the airport. Two of us decided to immediately hop in an Uber to visit Big Cat Habitat to see the animals that a couple of our fellow students had seen during their consulting project. The other students hopped on a trolly and hit the beach! The animal enthusiasts joined the rest of the classmates at the beach for a couple of hours of soaking up the iconic Sarasota sun before ending the night with a seafood dinner. We took an Uber back to the hotel and said, “see you in three hours,” as we parted to our hotel rooms.
The satisfaction of presenting valuable recommendations to nonprofits, sharing our most noteworthy Study Away experiences as a collective, and celebrating our successes on the beach radiated from each of us – even at 3:00am the next morning. We are ready to bring this energy and enthusiasm back to Indiana and beyond!