Media and philanthropy connect community to social issues through SPIRE CoLab

Media and philanthropy connect community to social issues through SPIRE CoLab

Posted on August 15, 2016 by Deborah Gauvreau, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Once a straightforward, one-way communication vehicle, journalism is becoming an ever-complex and diverse community resource. SPIRE CoLab, a partnership between journalism and philanthropy to create compelling media that inspire, inform and empower communities to take action on relevant social issues, is poised to do just that.

The SPIRE CoLab seeks not only to communicate outwardly but also to connect and inspire new community actions and solutions. This evolved locally in partnership with The Patterson Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.

The Role of Philanthropy in the SPIRE CoLab

The Patterson Foundation strengthens people, organizations and communities so they thrive and have greater impact. One way The Patterson Foundation does this is by supporting the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, an initiative designed to explore and embed ways to assure children achieve reading proficiency on grade-level by the end of third grade. If children miss this milestone, they are more likely to drop out of high school, which leads to  negative personal and community consequences.

Through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, many organizations in the Sarasota-Manatee region are participating in the Campaign's three evidence-based ways to improve reading proficiency: school readiness, attendance and summer learning.

Each strategy requires strong parent-family engagement and attention to children’s health, so the role of media emerged. The Patterson Foundation learned each of these five external sectors (people, business, nonprofit, government, and media) is integral to effectively create and embed change.

The Patterson Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group came together to connect journalism and philanthropy so community members would learn about challenges and get involved in achieving the Campaign's evidenced-based strategies.

The Role of Journalism

Traditional news media most often defines problems. With SPIRE CoLab, the Herald-Tribune will develop multimedia reporting packages and engagement practices that are shared with other media organizations to advance the local and national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

SPIRE stands for: Syndicate, Partner, Innovate, Resolve, and Engage


  • Syndicate reflects the capability of the partnership to collect and distribute pertinent information widely through media.



  • Partner reflects the unique partnerships involved in the SPIRE CoLab: the Herald-Tribune Media Group and its readers; The Patterson Foundation; the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading including its participants and their stories.



  • Innovate reflects the emergence of a new way of sharing information among stakeholders and concerned parties.



  • Resolve is required to advance a cause.



  • Engage represents the active participation and resulting actions of all people involved.


What Does Success Look Like for SPIRE CoLab?

Quite simply, SPIRE CoLab’s success will be achieved when the community is engaged, inspired, and taking action both in our region and in communities across our nation so our children have reading proficiency and are prepared to succeed.

To contact Deborah:

Join Deborah on Twitter: @DeborahGauvreau

Follow Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading on Twitter: @SuncoastCGLR

photo credit: The Library 7 via photopin (license)

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


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