There is an old adage that says, many hands make light work. Or maybe in layman’s terms, “teamwork makes the dream work.” Nothing could be truer when it came to The Patterson Foundation’s Study Away immersive experience and collaborative effort with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (IU LFSOP). It took a wide variety of skill levels and expertise to put together a robust week for students in Sarasota.

In March of 2022, TPF hosted its first in-person TPF Study Away week for ten Indiana University students. Our goal was to create an experience beyond classroom theories, work on evolving how to approach new situations, and give each student a chance to have meaningful participation by being a consultant. I was asked to come on board after handling the TPF Study Away week 2020, which had an unexpected COVID pivot. As I learned more about the opportunity to coordinate the logistics of this week, my excitement grew. It was going to be amazing!

My favorite part of a new project is brainstorming! Every person brings a unique perspective to the opportunity. There is never one road; instead, many different roads that all lead to more possibilities. Again, this inspired me to do my best work. I find great joy in challenging opportunities that have the potential to be life-changing.

It didn’t take long to realize that Study Away 2022 would be innovative and productive. This project was never in my hands alone because, at TPF, there are always opportunities for others to collaborate.

Last fall, while the IU faculty were making travel plans, TPF reached out to a core group of eight very enthusiastic team leaders to steer four different initiative experiences. Each developed a group experience for all ten students, including a Pop-Up Neighbor event with the help of SCGLR Engagement Team members and a Giving Challenge panel event with the support of five local nonprofits. In addition, each team leader created a deep dive experience for their small group. The team leaders reached out to other nonprofits to be part of this experience, and the number of hands grew.

Student itineraries and student prep work packets were developed for each of the (nine) projects. And let’s not forget that we wanted them to have a “Sarasota” experience since they were on Spring Break.

Every staff member at TPF was involved, offering their talents and expertise along the way. TPF created a welcome packet for students. Team leaders created student prep work packets and group information packets. MagnifyGood created a communications orientation. Stacey Gadeken and Connor LaGrange created gift bags to welcome the students at their hotel. I created the run-of-show, one for the students and one for TPFers.

Now it was time to add the extracurricular activities! On the day students arrived, TPFers planned a catered picnic at Siesta Key Beach for thirty-four people. Monday consisted of dinner at Columbia Restaurant. Tuesday, our guests enjoyed Hob Nob after the Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event. Tuesday afternoon, Joni Steinberg and Michael Zimmerman gave the students a tour of the Embracing Our Differences exhibit. Wednesday, The Bay Park staff gave a tour of Phase 1 of the 53-acre project. Thursday, Linda Gould gave a tour of Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery, and that evening, students enjoyed dinner at a Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse.

As you can see, there were many moving parts. This week drove like a well-oiled machine because everyone involved participated with joyful stewardship. We all felt lifted because there were many hands to lift us. When TPFers and the IU students were saying goodbye on Friday, you could see the smiles, the winks, and the high-fives as everyone knew that together we created a unique experience and created lasting connections along the way.

Why did this work so well?

Because everyone worked as a team, lending their hands and talents to strengthen a common aspiration. These students gave up the traditional Spring Break because they want to make the world a better place. Through learning and sharing, we wanted them to have an experience that they could take home—one that made a lasting impact.

Our hands were planting seeds, and now our many hands are applauding!

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


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