Photo: Elephant, Gazelle, and TPF Logo

The Patterson Foundation Strengthens Individuals, Organizations, and Communities in Ways That Foster Wide Participation

Posted on December 31, 2020 by John Ferguson, TPF Fellow 2020/21

TPF Impact Reflections
In early 2020, much of the world's activities came to a full stop due to the onset of COVID-19. As many organizations had to press the pause button while experiencing one or more crises, The Patterson Foundation, grounded firmly in possibility and an unwavering commitment to innovation.

TPF knew that many changes were necessary to continue to drive impact and community engagement when most people were isolating and social distancing. What no one could have anticipated was that the pandemic would still be around, even at the time of this writing, which underscores just how important TPF's contributions, especially those beyond the check, would prove to be throughout the Suncoast region.

TPF's work evolved to connect with community through Zoom while maintaining excellence as TPFers quickly mastered the program, evidenced by a consistently high stay-through rate (the number of people who stay more than 90% of the entire event or meeting) and positive feedback received from after-action surveys. TPF became and remains a leader in the creation and delivery of highly engaging and effective virtual gatherings.

Margin & Mission Ignition (MMI) continued to work with more than 20 local nonprofits to develop and embed effective earned-income strategies. Advancing Mission Thrivability (AMT) is now in its third iteration (AMT 3.0) and has had over 250 participants representing 161 organizations participating in its "labinars" and "webversations," which combined the interactivity of in-person labs and conversations with the convenience of webinars.

Both MMI and AMT address nonprofit thrivability differently; internally, MMI is often referred to as a marathon, while AMT is a sprint. Therefore, each is now under a new umbrella initiative aptly named Nonprofit Thrivability. Under the same banner emerged a new, innovative opportunity for nonprofits to raise money by asking donors to provide opinions on well-known brands as part of the HundredX Pilot Project. The "entrepreneurial eight" raised over $120K combined while showcasing creative and thoughtful ways to connect with their current donors and volunteers, inspiring new supporters to join the fray.

Digital Access for All (DA4A) recently celebrated its first anniversary, and what an inaugural year it was. DA4A began by researching more than 125 reports concerning digital access and interviewing 50+ local and national thought leaders. As a result of those efforts, there is now a robust resource library available on the website and a monthly newsletter that proudly maintains an open rate north of 40%. Additionally, the DA4A team was invited to serve as experts in several local, regional, and national webinars to share insights and learnings during the past year. DA4A is also preparing to launch a new Digital Navigator Program, which will embed the role of digital navigators into the existing work of three local powerhouse organizations with an eye toward refining and expanding the offering in future iterations. Lastly, DA4A recently partnered with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put on five informational sessions to help individuals and organizations understand and apply for (or assist others in applying for) the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. Digital Access for All remains committed to fostering inclusion and well-being while working to enhance all three legs of digital access — connectivity, devices, and digital literacy skills.

To help tell the many layers of stories surrounding digital access, Aspirations Journalism (AJ) explored the topic with relentless abandon. Through its partnership with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, these articles elevate the importance and understanding of digital access community-wide. Additionally, AJ took on a new challenge with COVID-19 vaccine education. Both topics were approached from a solutions journalism orientation and drove readers to available resources for those who wished to take advantage.

Another exciting new partnership within AJ emerged with Solmart Media; a local radio station focused on the Latinx population. That partnership will develop over time but begins with special attention to encourage participation in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading's award-winning Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge.

Speaking of awards, SCGLR continues to be nationally recognized for its contributions and impact, most recently by the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading who named THIS BOOK IS COOL! a "Bright Spot" for its demonstrated success and innovation. This summer, more than 3,300 children will participate in TBIC! That's more than three times the amount from 2020. And that number does not include 5,000+ kiddos who will be participating in 80 summer camps! Additionally, SCGLR continues to lead the way in family engagement success, hosting five events featuring local guest celebrities and activities designed for the whole family throughout the summer.

Engagement continues to be a strong theme for TPF's activities. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, a Walk to Respect, now under the Aspirations to Action (A2A) initiative, offers many different opportunities to engage the community. The popular one-act play written by Beth Duda was originally part of TPF's Honoring & Onward celebration and has been repurposed to catalyze important community discussions around respect during divisive times. Participants affirmed the need to engage respectfully and learn more about others, especially those they may not have much in common with on the surface. A2A continues to partner with the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation to train new public innovators in the 4-county region. In exciting news, Sarasota was selected as one of the cities to participate in Harwood's Mood of America Study, which will explore the feelings of community members as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic and heal from years of political divisiveness. We are honored to participate and look forward to the findings through the upcoming report.

Stemming from an A2A Stepping Forward book circle, TPF is supporting the formation and incubation of Suncoast Villages, which will serve as an umbrella organization offering supports, services, and programs to emerging individual villages and the community as a whole. SCV is undertaking a social calling pilot program, Suncoast CallConnect, to foster well-being and create meaningful human connection, especially for those experiencing isolation.

Thanks to a partnership with the Collaboratory at Ringling College of Art & Design, Patriot Plaza has been beautifully captured in 11 short virtual tour segments, which can be watched all at once or separately. This virtual tour allows local students to experience Patriot Plaza as part of learning through EdExploreSRQ, complete with a Patriot Plaza Guide during an interactive Zoom session. Moreover, it will enable families to experience Patriot Plaza together in new ways and extends that ability to people all over the country. The newly-created and quite popular Patriot Plaza Family Engagement Activity Book provides "Highlights" magazine-style fun for everyone.

TPF's partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy continues to flourish and expand, including a new 1-credit winter session course entitled Beyond the Check: The Patterson Foundation's Approach to Innovative Philanthropy and a new Nonprofit Internship Program offered in partnership with select MMI organizations.

Additionally, TPF will welcome its third class of fellows in the summer of 2021, expanding the budding network of aspiring leaders dedicated to transforming the philanthropic sector. TPF Beyond has laid the groundwork for all current, former, and incoming fellows to continue building connective tissue and supporting each other throughout their careers, propelling fellows forward throughout their fellowship and beyond after their TPF chapter closes. Advancing Philanthropic Leadership is ever-evolving and now exploring an opportunity to partner with The Fund Raising School at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to bring targeted fundraising training to the region as yet another value-add for local nonprofit professionals.

The Bay continued to inspire, successfully raising $20 million within two years, spurring TPF's additional $5 million match. TPF provides consulting services and communications support, which has proven to be a wise investment with an exceptional return supporting a beautiful addition to the Sarasota community that will impact generations to come.

Another sparkling example of return on investment is the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition. SNAC has continued to have a significant impact throughout the community, providing leadership, support, and scholarships under the exceptional guidance of consultant Deborah Gauvreau.

Fresh off of leadership transitions, both NetHope and Center for Disaster Philanthropy are evolving as organizations. TPF remains steadfast in its commitment to disaster recovery and engages with each organization to address recovery from disasters of different forms, including manmade, economic, and those caused by nature.

Season of Sharing offered critical funding to individuals to cover essential needs as a last resort. This became even more important with the onset of the pandemic and remains an important source of support for the community.

Full Speed Ahead
All of TPF's initiatives carry a common theme: connecting with community. Building connective tissue has never been more important as we create new realities during a global pandemic. If we think of TPF as a zoo, there are animals (initiatives) of different shapes, sizes, and focus areas — each contributing to impact. What follows is an at-a-glance view of what lies ahead for the various active initiatives at TPF.

The Elephants
TPF's Elephants are well-established, large-scale, complex initiatives requiring a significant investment of resources and many talented zookeepers (TPFers) to deliver excellence and drive impact while strengthening community.

Coming off of the largest match to date of nearly $7.5MM, the Giving Challenge is set to occur again in April of 2022. TPF looks forward to breaking the record again as the community will try to best its 2020 amount of $19.1MM raised. TPF is honored to serve as an accelerator for so many important nonprofit organizations throughout the region.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) continues to invest in children's success by providing valuable engagement experiences for the whole family in recognition that no child lives in isolation and that stronger, more connected families build stronger, more connected communities. SCGLR partners with local school systems and community organizations to spark a love of reading, setting up today's children for lifelong success. SCGLR continues to be a shining example of success and a sought-after thought partner on local, regional, and national levels. Reading is indeed the key to succeeding. And through its innovative offerings, SCGLR will continue to inspire new realities for the Suncoast region's children, families, and communities.

The Zebras
With a firm grounding in what's possible, TPF's zebras are quickly-emerging initiatives with vast potential that each address bold challenges while working deeply with community organizations to embed best practices and inspire innovation.

Digital Access for All (DA4A) recently had its first birthday, and what an inaugural year it was. Starting as an exploration, DA4A has now shifted focus to moving ideas into action through various collaborations with community partners dedicated to addressing all three "legs of the stool" that allow for one to sit at the table: connectivity, devices, and digital literacy skills. Grounded in the belief that digital access is essential for full participation in today's digital world, DA4A is committed to continuing to learn, design innovative and effective programs, and foster wide participation with the aspiration to cement the importance of digital access for all people and position our region to thrive into the digital future, leaving none behind. DA4A has become sought-after thought-partners and speakers locally, regionally, and nationally and continues to share valuable resources and lessons learned along the way.

Nonprofit Thrivability (NPT) continues to reinvent itself and expand, offering new opportunities to help local nonprofits and the communities they serve thrive. Through Margin & Mission Ignition (MMI) and Advancing Mission Thrivability (AMT), TPF will keep strengthening local nonprofits to drive strategic decision-making through both mission-focused and entrepreneurial lenses. Whether a marathon (MMI) or a sprint (AMT), nonprofits hit the ground running toward success.

Committed to creating meaningful human connection and building stronger communities, Suncoast Villages (SCV) enters the formative stages of becoming an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) organization that will serve as an umbrella organization for new villages throughout the Suncoast Region. SCV explores ways to add value and foster wide participation to create more vibrant communities, especially for older adults. It will keep evolving to best fit the needs of the Suncoast region while weaving connective tissue and envisioning a new model of what a village could be.

With the impressive fundraising success (through a pandemic, no less), The Bay will receive up to an additional $4 million match from TPF — $1 million for every $5 million raised from the community through 2023. TPF is proud to continue to serve as a catalyst and leverage point for the Bay Park Conservancy to build momentum and support towards realizing Phase I development.

The Alligators
Unlike Adelaide, Landry, and Boudreaux, the adorable inflatable alligators that assisted TPFers in safety and social distancing efforts throughout the height of COVID-19, real alligators are a disaster waiting to happen. In the case of TPF's alligators, they are the initiatives that focus on recovering from disasters of all kinds, whether natural, manmade, or economic.

TPF remains deeply committed to partnering with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) and NetHope and supporting the long-term recovery efforts necessary to emerge from disasters stronger than before.

Season of Sharing will continue to be a hallmark of generosity and a shining example of strengthening community, especially those community members who need a little extra help. TPF joyously continues to support and champion the efforts of Season of Sharing.

The Gazelles
Initiatives with high importance requiring low maintenance would describe TPF's gazelles.

A must-see marvel in Sarasota, Patriot Plaza will continue to inspire all who experience it. TPF will continue to oversee the maintenance of Patriot Plaza and building its endowment to preserve its beauty and vibrancy in perpetuity for generations to come. EdExploreSRQ, now armed with an incredible virtual tour captured in 11 modules by the Collaboratory at the Ringling College of Arts & Design, will continue to bring Patriot Plaza to life for area students to embed the principles of honoring service, inspiring patriotism, and embracing freedom. TPF will coordinate the community celebration for EdExploreSRQ's 10th anniversary.

The Carrier Pigeons
Weaving connective tissue is critical to the work of TPF. Community connectedness cannot be achieved without steadfast (and well-coordinated) communications. TPF's carrier pigeons are initiatives that foster that connection and enable effective communication both internally and externally.

TPF's dedication to communications alignment fortifies the work of every TPF initiative. Internal and external communication is vital to the success of any endeavor. Aspirations Journalism (AJ) explores new ways to connect with and inform the community on topics of importance and interest. TPF will continue to assess the appropriate media partners to educate and engage the community related to TPF's initiatives. AJ will continue to tell stories that deepen community understanding and inspire individuals and organizations to create new realities through a solutions-oriented mindset.

Aspirations to Action (A2A) is pursuing its goal for vibrant, thriving communities by continuing to train public innovators through Harwood's Virtual Labs and offering new opportunities for community members to come together and discuss issues that matter to them, even when they disagree. The power of open, aligned communications and the magic of A2A supports TPF's ability to strengthen individuals, organizations, and communities.

As with any vibrant zoo, TPF focuses on gauging the health and vitality of its many animals (initiatives) as each evolves through the various stages of life. TPF's beautifully unique animals (initiatives) are undergirded by TPF values and excellence, and many play with others to support aligned community goals. TPF will begin 2022 with an immersion to affirm impact and propel efforts proven to strengthen individuals, organizations, and communities in ways that foster wide participation.

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