Four weeks into being The Patterson Foundation (TPF) Fellow and I have had the opportunity to see and touch nearly every active TPF initiative. Originally, there were nine legacy initiatives, each a planet in its own orbit (we miss you Pluto!) but linked by the common goal of strengthening organizations, people, and communities.

While many of the original initiatives have been passed on to local and national organizations to carry on, the current initiatives are no less focused on TPF’s mission to build capacity through forging connections.

Two brief examples from my observations so far:
Margin & Mission Ignition provides a four lab educational experience around earned-income business planning open to any nonprofit that has an up-to-date profile on The Giving Partner in Charlotte, Desoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties with the invitation to apply to the rigorous earned-income business planning mentored process. At the obvious surface, this is a program specifically designed to improve organizational capacity. However, it was clear to me sitting in Lab 4 that even the organizations that weren’t ready to submit their business plans were gaining knowledge and opening up to new ways to approach their work.

• Out in the field with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, you can see one of my favorite strengthening practices—supporting children in discovering reading. While the science backs more clinical positives of helping young children read successfully by grade three, schools, camps, children, and their parents are being encouraged and supported by community engagement consultants. TPF embraces fresh ways to approach the complexities of reading success and has brought different skills and ways to demonstrate value beyond a check.

The focus of The Patterson Foundation when it undertakes anything new is how it can support the building of connective tissue, also known as relationships. Realistically, these connections occur at the individual level, which is a space often overlooked in traditional grant funding models. TPF, most often, won’t be found doing the same work as other foundations. That’s the point. Looking for new possibilities requires the attitude that it is good to not be working in the same ways as everyone else.

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