Not Your Average Philanthropy: How Patriot Plaza Demonstrates Unique Philanthropy

Not Your Average Philanthropy: How Patriot Plaza Demonstrates Unique Philanthropy

Posted on January 10, 2022 by Connor LaGrange, TPF Fellow 2021/23

"…To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan..." Abraham Lincoln at his second inaugural address.

These words appear large over the east gate to Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery, and Lincoln's quote foreshadows a glimpse into philanthropy.

Now, there are countless services for veterans in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties and a litany of organizations that make it possible. But what if there was a way to bring people together to honor those who sacrificed for our freedom? Something tangible. Something timeless future generations could experience. Patriot Plaza is a spectacular example of this unique philanthropy.

It is built to be whatever a community member needs it to be and has served children, veterans, civilians, older adults, and everyone in between. It is an educational space where visitors learn about history and a contemplative ground to reminisce on what was.

Patriot Plaza is a tremendous demonstration of The Patterson Foundation's push to move from outputs to outcomes. Rather than focusing on the number of folks who come through the door, TPF focuses on guests' stories and journeys. This willingness to honor veterans, their families, and all who have been affected by such sacrifice is a commitment to investing in lasting impact.

TPF is different in many ways, and what sets it apart is its willingness to undertake work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do. TPF is even more unique in its openness to explore and create with others.

Patriot Plaza exemplifies TPF's boldness to take risks within philanthropy and demonstrates imaginative excellence. This engagement was the first time a private foundation partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to work on an enhancement of this complexity at a national cemetery. TPF had zero expertise in building a state-of-the-art, 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater, so it engaged experts in construction, art, and design and asked, "What is possible?" and "What can we accomplish together?"

Sometimes in philanthropy, we tend to address an immediate issue and are out of touch with the ripple effect it may cause. With this foresight, TPF created an endowment to fund capital replacement maintenance so that future generations can experience the fullness of its beauty.

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