Suncoast Remake Learning Days (SRLD), an exciting 10-day learning festival from Friday, April 29, 2022, through Sunday, May 8, 2022, was all about moving the Suncoast region from Outputs to Outcomes — shifting the focus from short-term actions to optimizing efforts toward long-term impact.

SRLD, presented by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with the support of The Patterson Foundation (TPF), consisted of more than 140 events over ten days hosted by more than 165 organizations, including schools, museums, libraries, after school organizations, early child care centers, universities, media outlets and more. The aspiration was to strengthen communities by engaging families in SRLD events, which sparked new ideas on how agencies and government could connect with communities through strategic partnerships.

The process through which SRLD catalyzed these collaborations is explained in what TPF refers to as Opportunities for Impact:
  • From Scarcity to Abundance: Expanding a narrow scope of thinking to a broad view of the collective resources from multiple sectors
  • From Silos to Systems: Rather than acting in isolation, exploring, discovering, and working together in a shared ecosystem

Participating SRLD hosts received catalytic funding from TPF to jumpstart their events. Diverse and brilliant learning spaces were created from the seven Remake Learning Days themes: Arts, Maker Spaces, Outdoor Learning, Science, Technology, and Youth Voice. All the events were free and designed to be hands-on, relevant, and engaging educational experiences for youth of all ages (PreK through high school) and their families, caregivers, and educators. The events produced creative and immersive experiential learning spaces and fostered community-wide participation across Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

While some nonprofits planned and facilitated events on their own, I was inspired by the organic and overwhelming communal move of many SRLD hosts to partner and collaborate with other nonprofits, governmental agencies, and businesses across the region.

I took note of this remarkable and atypical trend. These hosts found ways to work together to fulfill their missions and think collectively about the needs of their communities and how to address them. Here we see community movement from silos to systems. Also, SRLD hosts who typically felt limited by scarce resources now felt equipped by their new partnerships, which transitioned them from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance. Operating with this mindset propelled organizations in optimizing resources through the value each brought to the table.

Reflecting on SRLD and my time working in fundraising and development, I realized that hosts and partners defied the national odds. It is far more common to find nonprofits working in silos than systems in other parts of the country.

There exists an inherent fear of partnering and collaborating with others as it could detract from fundraising efforts. Most NPOs want to own their own work and successes, showing donors in the community that they are most worthy of the funding over "the competition." In the end, these organizationally-centered efforts hurt the community at large as resources are narrowly focused only on efforts that strengthen the mission of the respective organization. This reflects a culture of scarcity. Thus, working in silos is a direct result of perceiving resources as scarce. Leadership at many NPOs still wrestle with the fear of stepping out to explore possibilities.

Suncoast Remake Learning Days gave us all the opportunity to spark learning innovation. The festival was a fun and creative way to establish and affirm parents and families as learning allies. Receiving the overwhelming follow-up from hosts and partners asking if SRLD will happen again next year affirmed the festival's positive impact, evolving the way we work together as a more united community.

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