The Patterson Foundation (TPF) is an organization that takes great strides to invest in the future of philanthropy. I've experienced this firsthand through TPF's Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative, which encapsulates the Fellow's Program and courses with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (LFSOP). Study Away 2023, also known as "The Future of Philanthropy: Experiential Learning with The Patterson Foundation," was hosted in Sarasota, FL, in early March. The week, which had been carefully planned for months, was packed full of collaboration, creating, and connection.

In 2020, I signed up for the inaugural Study Away course, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pivoted to a virtual platform one week before our flights would land in Sarasota. Witnessing TPF evolve to fit the need of something entirely out of their control sparked more interest, and I was impressed with their work, teamwork, and joyful stewardship approach. I witnessed TPF in action and watched how threads wove throughout to create an ecosystem of innovative philanthropic perspectives.

My role in preparing the 2023 Study Away course was to lead the curriculum. First, I needed to determine what themes would guide the coursework and week in Sarasota. Debra Jacobs and I worked thoughtfully to construct four unique themes, the TPF initiatives that would pair with each theme, and the "TPF Faculty" who would create and lead the projects associated with each:
Throughout determining the themes, activities, structure, and preparations, the goal was to ensure TPF approaches shined through, and it was better than I imagined.

Students began the week with a tour of Embracing Our Differences, encouraging conversation and open-mindedness. This message was carried throughout the week, especially during the community conversation simulation, where students received a "role card" to embrace as they took part in sharing what they liked about their community and what might be missing.

The first official day of programming included TPF Faculty and Fellows presentations on TPF approaches such as CLSES, stakeholders, and The Five Cs. Students began to use this language and see it in action throughout their conversations with Suncoast nonprofits and while participating in the Pop-Up Neighbor Through Laundry event.

Seeing the students engaging in projects with questions instead of arriving with answers, collaborating with organizations instead of staying in silos, and approaching challenges with a possibilitarian mindset instead of a scarcity one, encapsulated me. I was in the same shoes as these ten students three years ago and was now part of determining how the week would run. This experience was humbling and showcased how powerful TPF and the LFSOP's approach to advancing philanthropic leadership is.

As a previous student in the course and now a Fellow, I see the threads woven throughout TPF's approach and how everyone who touches this work is moved in one way or another.

I became impressed by TPF and, years later, had a positive memory when the fellowship application became available to me. Many of these students are working in part-time or full-time positions within the field of philanthropy. I heard sentiments that they would use this experience and take an approach back to their team, such as "sharing our cookies" and LWRCC. I heard others state that they had never considered a potential career at a foundation or as a consultant before this.

TPF greatly invests in the Study Away course. From my own experience as a student and as a staff member, I believe it's an investment worth making for the students, for TPF, for the Suncoast Region, for the future of the philanthropic sector, and for the threads that weave throughout.

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