Beth Duda participating in a webinar

The Values That Shape the Work of The Patterson Foundation

Posted on January 23, 2019 by Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Editor's Note: Recently, Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR), was a panelist on a webinar for the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN). The webinar, “Grantmaking to improve health outcomes: How to assess evidence and find programs that work,” explored the variety of ways funders utilize evidence to advance their work. In preparation for the webinar, Beth gathered some of her thoughts.

Preparing for FPN’s webinar gave me a welcome opportunity to revisit The Patterson Foundation’s values and its approach to embedding lasting change. Moderator, Shelley Robertson, provided some questions to guide the panel’s preparation work. I provide my notes now as a way of “sharing the cookies in our cookie jar.” – Beth Duda

Question 1: What is your organization’s goal for using evidence?

  • The Patterson Foundation (TPF) is a values-driven organization.
  • TPF focuses on strengthening people, organizations, and the community.
  • Change requires a depth of resources, value beyond the gift.
  • There is a great benefit in the identification and alignment of Common Aspirations across sectors.
  • TPF’s approach to evidence leans toward the use of already existing common measurements that can help to identify success, encourage broad participation, and help to identify opportunities for recalibration.
  • Several of TPF’s initiatives involve participation in national networks. These networks allow us to benefit from the evidence produced elsewhere. In the case of The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, SCGLR is part of a 390-member community network. It’s relied on national reports on the effectiveness of Reach Out and Read, Mind in the Making, Vroom, and Summer Learning efforts across the nation.
  • Five Sectors: People, Business, Nonprofits, Government, Media. In all our work, TPF believes that embedding lasting change takes effort from every sector.

Question 2: How has your organization approached gathering and assessing evidence?

  • Data sharing is an essential element of our work. Building partnerships across sectors with a strong commitment to data sharing builds trust and allows the identification of shared aspirations.
  • TPF starts by looking for existing measurement tools — what is currently being measured, and by whom? Is there a way to craft data-sharing agreements that will allow each partner to access their progress without being bogged down with new assessment tools or a variety of tests that make data comparisons difficult? Knowing that time is a non-renewable resource, how can we work together for shared outcomes without going down the rabbit-hole of too much unactionable data?
  • Concentration on shared aspirations and outcomes rather than individual outputs. Often, we see or hear about individual programs with measurements of success —pre-test/post-test — yet, collectively we are still failing. This is one reason we look for existing measurements so the entire ecosystem can be strengthened.
  • Because TPF does not award grants, the organizations we partner with are not in competition with each other for dollars. Instead, we look for ways to strengthen the system.
  • Cross-Sector Communication built into everything we do:
    Sharing the cookies in the cookie jar.
    Blogs, project-based weekly newsletters, encouraging the use of social media for qualitative information.

The webinar provided a valuable opportunity to learn from others and a welcome opportunity to spend more time with the values that shape the work of The Patterson Foundation.

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