DeSoto County Ahead
DeSoto County Ahead
DeSoto County Ahead
DeSoto County Ahead
DeSoto County Ahead


DeSoto County Ahead

The Purpose

The Patterson Foundation believes that communities can shape their own future by involving people and organizations in the process. DeSoto County Ahead is a result of many months of trust-building through purposeful and meaningful facilitated conversations. During these conversations, eight themes and twelve aspirational actions to uplift the community were identified. The goal is to move from merely recognizing aspirations to taking actionable steps.

Strengthening the Impact

The Patterson Foundation believes that individuals, organizations, and communities can achieve their goals by working together. By collectively pursuing common aspirations, they can strengthen themselves and their communities as they share a vision to shape the future. DeSoto County Ahead exemplifies this approach, where community members learn from each other, share their experiences, and collectively evolve to create a stronger, more resilient community.


Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more about this initiative...

Why does The Patterson Foundation support this initiative?

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) has been working in DeSoto County for several years, implementing various initiatives such as Digital Access for All, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and Suncoast Remake Learning Days. These initiatives have generated a deeper interest in DeSoto County, leading to aspirational thinking and actions. By engaging the community in this way, they have begun to address issues and develop innovative and collaborative partnerships, leveraging the power of collective abundance for meaningful change.

From 2022–2023, TPF's Aspirations to Actions initiative worked alongside the people of DeSoto County, providing space for purposeful engagement, building trust, and strengthening connective tissue. A total of 20 community conversations occurred in Arcadia and DeSoto counties, reaching 427 people. These conversations led to eight community themes and 12 actionable intermediate and long-term collaborations. The community conversations were uplifting and innovative, solidifying the idea that a community's power lies in its people. For over a decade, TPF has focused its aspirational efforts across Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. The rise in readiness in DeSoto County became evident through increased activities around its community-led initiatives and partnerships.

What were the eight themes discovered during the community conversations facilitated by Aspirations to Actions?

The following eight community themes emerged from community conversations:
  1. Beautification of Arcadia (DeSoto County)
  2. A Safe and Peaceful Arcadia and DeSoto County
  3. Nonprofit, Business, Resident, and Economic Opportunities to Support DeSoto County
  4. Technology/Digital Access for All
  5. Family Fun Friendly Events with Sustainability
  6. Preserve the Historical Essence of the Community and Grow with Thoughtful Engaged Planning
  7. Support Advanced Focus on Education Enhancement
  8. Reconnect with Students, Parents, Teachers, and Administration for Educational Support

What is the Aspirations to Actions initiative?

The Patterson Foundation believes that trust is the key to driving change. Aspirations to Actions aims to create an environment that fosters trust by strengthening the connections between people. Through various programs like community conversations and uplifting people, Aspirations to Actions is an innovative and adaptive initiative geared toward tackling the challenges faced by a community.

Aspirations to Actions engages individuals, businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and the media to create opportunities for meaningful engagement. The Patterson Foundation recognizes that the true strength of a community lies in its people. Aspirations to Actions works to promote personal development, active participation, and shared aspirations as new pathways to building trust within a community.

What does the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading do in DeSoto?

Part of a nationwide movement, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a four-county initiative fostering wide community participation to achieve shared aspirations for the success of families and children. The Suncoast region — Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties in Florida — is focused on addressing the most common issues and obstacles that impact a child's ability to read and learn. Examples of SCGLR programs include:
  • Pop-Up Neighbor: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) and The Laundry Project teamed up to hold Pop-Up Neighbor events at SuperMatt Laundromat/Lavandería locations. Pop-Up Neighbor events are unexpected opportunities where volunteers make real connections with the community while alleviating the cost of laundry. For three hours, everyone who walks into the laundromat gets their laundry fees paid, thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation.
  • Suncoast Remake Learning Days: Remake Learning Days (RLD) is a global learning festival (the largest in the U.S.), with thousands of events taking place over the same April/May time frame each year. The 2024 Suncoast Remake Learning Days festival takes place April 20 to May 4, 2024. It is the third time the event will be held in the four-county region, and it is already one of the largest RLD festivals in the country. Click here to access the 2024 Event Guide. On mobile, click here to download the app.
  • THIS BOOK IS COOL!: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is excited to welcome back our 10-week THIS BOOK IS COOL! summer reading program. This FREE summer adventure is designed to engage the minds of incoming students in grades PreK–3 and encourage their continued learning through reading.

What role does The Harwood Institute have in this initiative?

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to working with individuals and organizations to address critical challenges and transform the dynamics of community collaboration. Those trained by the Institute are designated as public innovators who are equipped with unique ways to break down barriers, dismantle obstacles, and enable community change. The Patterson Foundation (TPF) has formed a partnership with The Harwood Institute to bring additional resources to the DeSoto community, reshaping the approach to problem-solving and fostering the creation of innovative, collaborative partnerships that might not otherwise have emerged. This empowers the community to navigate issues with new perspectives and build stronger, more effective collaborations.

In January 2024, The Harwood Institute’s team traveled to DeSoto County to launch a partnership with The Patterson Foundation to deepen and accelerate community-led change, build on the “Solutions to Actions” work already underway, and catalyze change. This initiative has three primary goals:
  1. To illuminate key issues that matter to people and better understand the community's underlying conditions that make DeSoto County
  2. To take action on key issues that matter to people
  3. To strengthen DeSoto County's civic culture so the community can accelerate and deepen its good work.
During the Spring of 2024, The Harwood Institute will host community conversations across DeSoto County to gather insights from diverse people, organizations, and communities.

What is The Harwood Institute’s Catalytic Community Guide Program?

As a part of The Patterson Foundation’s work with DeSoto County, The Harwood Institute’s Catalytic Community Guide Program in DeSoto County is an intensive week-long program for community members who desire to guide their community to create lasting change using Harwood’s approach. Local community leaders are trained in the Harwood approach and become Catalytic Community Guides, helping people in the community adopt both mindset and practice that enables them to step forward, take action, create meaningful change, and unleash the potential of their community.

Currently, five DeSoto County community leaders are participating in this transformative 12-week course. The goals are to provide direct support to local public innovators, develop a network of public innovators within the community, and spread the Harwood approach across the community with the hope of widespread, community-centered change.

What is the DeSoto Solutions to Actions Newsletter?

The Patterson Foundation has launched a newsletter, DeSoto Solutions to Actions, available in English and Spanish. This newsletter is available in digital and print format and aims to showcase the work of TPF initiatives. It also highlights how residents can participate in community-building activities and spotlights the action steps that community members are taking to create a positive future.

The newsletter primarily focuses on sharing the following:
  • Action being taken by community members within the eight themes as identified through Aspirations to Action
  • Updates regarding The Harwood Institute’s work in DeSoto County
  • Opportunities to participate and engage with the work TPF is doing in DeSoto County through its various initiatives (e.g., Suncoast Remake Learning Days, Digital Access For All’s Gap work)
  • The work of other funders in DeSoto
This newsletter will promote widespread participation and engagement by sharing information about community developments.

What was the DeSoto “Solutions to Actions” Dive into Discovery event?

In 2023, The Patterson Foundation hosted The DeSoto Solutions to Actions Dive Into Discovery to showcase community organizations, valuable resources, and meaningful presentations by various community changemakers. The event fostered connections, promoted learning, encouraged the exchange of ideas, and ensured that each person left with a renewed sense of hope and inspiration and steps to propel positive change within our community.

Who can I contact about the DeSoto Solutions to Actions initiative?

For more information, contact DeSoto Solutions to Actions initiative lead Cheri Coryea:
The event fostered connections, promoted learning, encouraged the exchange of ideas, and ensured that each person left with a renewed sense of hope, inspiration, and steps to propel positive change within DeSoto County..
(total time: 9 minutes )

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