Photo: line drawing of people in a circle holding hands

Embracing Our Five Constants: Caring, Connecting, Collaborating, Contributing, Creating

Posted on April 10, 2020 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation
At a time when “normal” continues to be redefined daily, it’s important to embrace those aspects of ourselves and our world that endure. The path forward is that much more accessible when guided by our purpose, approach, and work. Indeed, in The Patterson Foundation’s (TPF) case, it’s what allows our team to continue strengthening people, organizations, and communities amid COVID-19 — all while discovering new ways to connect with our world that show promise for future applications.

No matter the circumstances, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) enters each day focused on five constants that power its ability to thrive in the face of change while harnessing that change to work in new, impactful ways.

With its many initiatives — regardless of the aspiration or geography involved — TPF channels empathy and compassion for our world. The unfettered charter undergirding its efforts allows TPF to undertake work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do. This affords TPF unique opportunities to create meaningful change through its philanthropy, and it’s one for which we are ever grateful. Knowing and embracing what’s possible through our work allows each of us to live and work in the spirit of joyful stewardship.

Our world is full of possibilitarians working to create a better future for those dear to them and the communities they serve. While they might often feel alone in their pursuits, many of them are working shoulder to shoulder with other likeminded groups striving for a similar goal — they just don’t know it. TPF opens up new channels for people, organizations, and communities to learn from and share in ways that strengthen their collective effort. The learnings that emerge from these interactions can be shared and implemented by all involved, strengthening the overall impact.

The Stepping Forward Book Circles through TPF’s Aspirations to Actions initiative are an ongoing embodiment of this virtue. The Book Circles provide the opportunity for eight or more individuals to discuss and build on the themes of Stepping Forward by Rich Harwood, founder of The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and nationally recognized advocate for Turning Outward. By connecting through these book circles, participants can build a sense of community, foster positive relationships among their fellow citizens, discover shared aspirations, and embrace possibilities for our collective future through guided discussions.

When TPF seeks to strengthen outcomes within shared aspirations, it looks to the organizations and entities at the forefront of the ongoing work in that space. Rather than arrive at its work with the answer, TPF strives to learn from those actively creating the kind of future people aspire to live in, finding opportunities to strengthen their efforts while continuing to introduce them to other mission-aligned causes and organizations.

This emphasis on collaboration is exemplified in TPF’s approach to strengthening those in our region living on the verge of homelessness. Instead of “going it alone” to generate impact, TPF has, for years, turned to the time-tested and trusted network Season of Sharing provides, contributing $4.5 million in matching dollars and gifts since 2010. Created by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Herald-Tribune Media Group, Season of Sharing harnesses the community’s generosity to support people and families in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Every dollar raised during Season of Sharing goes to those in need through the tireless efforts of more than 60 agencies actively engaged in keeping our neighbors safe and secure in their homes.

As a fully endowed charitable entity, TPF has substantial resources to help strengthen those with which it collaborates. However, the true value of TPF’s support goes far beyond any one-time check. With an eye toward long-term thrivability and mission impact, TPF exercises agility in its response to emerging funding opportunities while creating opportunities to catalyze additional support from donors big and small to these organizations and networks.

COVID-19’s evolving complexities necessitate an equally multifaceted response, and TPF’s contributions to the people, organizations, and communities impacted by the pandemic are grounded in that reality. Its support for Season of Sharing, recently reactivated in response to the pandemic, includes an initial $500,000 contribution and a $500,000 match to help individuals and families in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties financially affected. TPF’s previously announced commitment to provide a 1:1 match for all unique donations in the 2020 Giving Challenge between $25 and $100 per donor, per nonprofit organization, without a cap — puts power in the hands of donors to decide how to strengthen organizations working through COVID-19. Additionally, TPF is using its social media channels to provide daily tips on ways nonprofit organizations and donors can optimize connections created through the event. In global communities, TPF’s $100,000 gift to NetHope aspires to catalyze contributions from additional funders to strengthen its international COVID-19 response effort and support its 57 member organizations with technology solutions developed in partnership with leading technology companies — solutions that will lend resiliency to the developing world into the future.

Beyond sharing promising innovations within these networks, TPF actively works with them to identify opportunities to innovate organically — from idea to implementation. Developing high-tech platforms and virtual experiences can connect more people, organizations, and communities to proven solutions and approaches that advance shared aspirations in new, exciting ways.

The ongoing challenges of COVID-19 presented a timely opportunity to apply these virtues toward creating a stronger future. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR), a communitywide initiative long strengthened by TPF, works to help children read on grade-level by the end of third grade, a crucial milestone for their continued success in school and life. Much of this work involves connecting with children from asset-limited families who are especially vulnerable to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

In collaboration with The Florida Center for Early Childhood, SCGLR worked to vault the current barriers to social interaction by creating and presenting a series of webinars designed to help parents and children talk about the Coronavirus, COVID-19, and how to navigate the challenging new realities we are all facing in ways that are honest, accurate, and minimize anxiety. The webinars, designed separately for children age 6 and under, children age 7 and up, and their parents connected each group with mental health professionals to provide insight and resources that would not have been accessible otherwise — creating opportunities to strengthen people in our region during this unprecedented time.

By relying on the five constants that have always guided its approach to philanthropy, TPF is charting a course forward and remaining steadfast in its commitment to strengthening people, organizations, and communities — all while discovering new ways to successfully generate lasting impact that will serve our region and beyond in the “next normal” that follows this unprecedented time.

Comments (3)

  • Lottie Johnson

    Lottie Johnson

    24 April 2020 at 11:46 | #

    Pre schools should have more funding - Parents needed to get involved with the kids when children steps right in to pre- schools . Kids whose parents are involved in their education get better grades and have higher test scores. And the more parents are involved , the more their children seem to benefit .


  • Karen Gray

    Karen Gray

    18 May 2020 at 14:23 | #

    The blast off zoom was very enlightening . It motivated me and my team to step up our preparation for our summer program


  • Lisa Atwell

    Lisa Atwell

    29 April 2021 at 13:59 | #

    I loved the program!!I had a blast in creating the activities that correlated along with each of the wonderful stories we read .I feel that the children really blossomed individually as well as a large group .I look forward to doing it again !!Best time !!!I love teaching VPK!!


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