The Patterson Foundation

By ericg February 1, 2012


“Tomorrow’s philanthropists will require learning more about what others are doing and reaching out to partners around the corner and around the world. Carrying out one’s mission in isolation will no longer get the job done: Creating new realities requires learning new behaviors.”

— Bradford K. Smith, President, Foundation Center


Unfolding the PossibilitiesUnfolding the Possibilities

“The Patterson Foundation is reconsidering how foundations can work best in the 21st century, what philanthropy can and cannot do, and how it can be most useful to the communities it cares about. I look forward to learning from them.”

—Lucy BernhoLz, Managing Director, ARABELLA ADVISORS and publisher, The Future of Good


A charter to transform lives and communities

Established by Dorothy Patterson in 1997, The Patterson Foundation is an independent charitable foundation. Like a blank sheet of paper, the Foundation holds infinite possibilities for good. And like origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, what we make of these possibilities is limited only by our imagination.

We live in a time of unprecedented change and challenges. The promise of humanity has never been greater, with innovations in technology and communications reinventing the world at a dizzying pace and putting new ideas and potential within reach of every person on the globe. Yet the perils we face are equally enormous—disease, natural disasters, environmental threats, widespread inequality and economic and political upheaval.

Philanthropy must respond to these new realities. In a changing world, it, too, must change. At The Patterson Foundation, this is our charge and our joy—to embrace new ideas and ways of working and to discover how giving can inspire and transform our global society.


“Like origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, what we make of these possibilities is limited only by our imagination.”


Dear Friends,Dear Friends,

Learning and sharing with others is the cornerstone of innovation. It’s this willingness to partner with others that drives us to demonstrate how partnering produces great outcomes for our community, region, nation and world.

In 2010, The Patterson Foundation launched its vision to the world. During this brief journey, we’ve experienced immense change and have been blessed by the dedication, talent and expertise of everyone who has joined us in creating New Realities in philanthropy.

Through the foresight of our benefactor, we have the flexibility, opportunity and responsibility to use our innovative spirit and creativity to work and connect where others can’t, won’t, or aren’t—all for meaningful impact. Our willingness to evolve and adapt with agility has proven meaningful many times over.

In that spirit, we invite you to reflect, discover and enjoy this glimpse into our work and find your own points of connection that resonate with you as our journey unfolds.

With appreciation,

John T. Berteau

Chairman, Designation Committee

The Patterson Foundation

Debra M. Jacobs

President and CEO

The Patterson Foundation                             


“The joy is in creating, not maintaining.” –Vince LombaRdi


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where is The Patterson Foundation located?

A: The Foundation is based in Sarasota, Florida. The office location is: 2 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 206, Sarasota, Florida 34236.


Q: How much will the Foundation grant each year?

A: In January 2010, The Patterson Foundation announced that rather than accepting proposals for grants, it will undertake its work via strategic initiatives with partners selected by the Foundation. Annual gifts will be based on both the Foundation’s assets and the initiatives approved, with a guideline to use at least 5 percent of its endowed assets.


Q: What type of gifts will the Foundation make?

A: The Patterson Foundation has selected partners based on their successful track records and their reputations for achieving positive results in each

of these areas. Consequently, we do not have regular grant cycles, nor do we entertain unsolicited

grant requests.


Q: How can I contact The Patterson Foundation?

A: Please begin by exploring our website,, which has extensive information to assist those interested in learning about the Foundation’s work, including how to contact appropriate staff members.


Our initiatives reached far and wide during our first two years.


· Cultural Connections with Students

· Sarasota National Cemetery

· Sister M. Lucia Haas Scholarship

   Endowment Matching Challenge

· Aging with Dignity and Independence

· Ringling College Collaboratory

· Student Emergency Fund

· Sarasota County Schools

   Assessment Support

   The Giving Partner

· Health Safety Net

· Institute for the Ages

· Collaborative Restructuring

· Season of Sharing Match



· Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter

· Caregiver Connect

· SECF EngAGEment Initiative

· Disaster - Northeast Alabama




· Bringing Science Home

· New Media Journalism

· The Declaration Initiative

· National Council on Aging: Self-Care Management Alliance



· Disaster - NetHope


Our unique legacy and structure.

Dorothy Patterson established The Patterson Foundation in 1997 with approximately $3 million. She died in 2007, leaving most of her estate to the Foundation. After her estate was settled, the trust grew to $200 million, making us one of the largest public or private foundations in the state of Florida.

The Foundation is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. Northern Trust is the trustee, and our Designation Committee is chaired by John T. Berteau and includes Dan Bailey and Ric Gregoria. Debra Jacobs is president and CEO.

As a private foundation established in perpetuity, the Foundation must distribute 5 percent of our assets every year. But Dorothy Patterson left no directives or restrictions about what geographic regions, causes or organizations the funds should benefit, entrusting the Foundation with deciding how and where to create her legacy.

As a result, The Patterson Foundation has the freedom, opportunity and responsibility of choice. We can explore options and take calculated risks that other organizations cannot. We can also undertake philanthropic work that others do not, cannot or will not do.

We invested much of our first year in thoughtful consideration of where we should focus and how we should work. We decided that rather than operating with traditional grant cycles and accepting unsolicited funding requests, we will honor Dorothy’s trust in us by selecting key initiatives and seeking out the best and brightest strategic partners—wherever they might be. By challenging our partners to collaborate with others, we will leverage our influence and funds. Throughout the process, The Patterson Foundation will remain involved, encouraging and equipping our partners to work more imaginatively and effectively together.

The Patterson Foundation aims to be a transformative force, with the economic, intellectual and moral capital to effect change that is deep and lasting. Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see.” To create new realities in the communities we serve and the work we undertake, we must create a new kind of philanthropic approach as well.

During our first two years, we began work on nine Legacy Initiatives inspired by the Patterson family history and three initiatives intended to relieve people in crisis. Under The Patterson Foundation umbrella, each initiative is developed with a unique vision, strategy and leadership. While many of our initiatives are rooted in Sarasota, we are also establishing a national and global presence, with partners around the world and work that reaches far beyond our city.


Dorothy PattersonHer Life and Legacy

Dorothy Patterson quietly enriched the world.

Dorothy Patterson was a quiet embodiment of compassion and generosity—generosity made possible by the family fortune of her husband, Jim. Jim Patterson’s great-grandfather owned the Chicago Tribune and was mayor of Chicago from 1871 to 1873. Jim’s father, Captain Joseph Patterson, started The Daily News in New York City. In the early 1980s, the Chicago Tribune also invested in America Online and created and

Jim and Dorothy started dating in high school in Ossining, New York. While Jim lived in a mansion, where his family often hosted Hollywood stars at lavish parties, Dorothy grew up in modest circumstances. Her father was a prison guard at Sing Sing and was occasionally hired to park cars at the Patterson mansion. The two married in 1944, after Jim graduated from West Point. Their first home was a 17-room estate with acres of land and beautiful gardens.

Those who knew her say Dorothy was a gentle woman, unselfish and thoughtful of those around her. Although she and Jim enjoyed great wealth, she never really considered it hers. The couple was childless, but they lavished love on their 10 nephews and nieces, hosting overnight visits and cookouts for them and taking them to cultural events in New York City.

Throughout their marriage, Jim and Dorothy supported education and the arts—both in their home state of New York, and in Sarasota after they retired to Longboat Key in 1979. Dorothy was involved in charities inspired by her Catholic faith, volunteering in children’s hospitals and supporting schools. But her philanthropy was never showy or self-aggrandizing; she gave from the sidelines, selflessly looking for ways to offer support and bring about change. When Jim died in 1992, many people the family did not know came to pay their respects. It turned out they had been recipients of Dorothy’s quiet generosity.

Dorothy endured arthritis and battled dementia in her final years, but her spirit remained strong. She insisted that her care be provided in a way that allowed for as much independence as possible. In 1997 she established The Patterson Foundation as a way to make a difference for future generations. Her unobtrusive compassion was evident even in her charge for the Foundation: Do good, and do it well.


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a moment before starting to improve the world.” –Anne Frank


Our Initial WorkOur Initial Work

Relieving suffering and honoring the Patterson legacy.


After months of planning and extensive research, The Patterson Foundation officially launched in January 2010. We determined we would initially focus on two areas: relieving those in crises beyond their control and honoring the Patterson family with initiatives inspired by their history.

Our “Relieve” initiatives include Sarasota’s Season of Sharing campaign, which helps families who are on the verge of homelessness and involves multiple community partners; disaster relief; and a Student Emergency Fund.

We chose nine initiatives inspired by the Patterson family and intended to be sustainable beyond the Foundation’s early involvement.

In the two years since these nine initiatives were announced, we have learned and evolved. Our early work continues, and we have launched more initiatives—locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. But today, in everything we do, our primary focus has become connecting with others to create new realities.


Roman Catholic Faith. To recognize the Pattersons’ deep commitment to the Catholic faith—and Dorothy’s friendship with Sister Lucia Haas of Sarasota’s Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School—the Foundation gave $1 million, along with an additional $1 million matching challenge, to establish the Sister M. Lucia Haas Scholarship Endowment for students at Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School.

Military. In honor of the Patterson family’s long military history, the Foundation is developing a 1.77 acre, $5.6 million ceremonial addition to the Sarasota National Cemetery. This is the first time a private foundation has partnered with the National Cemetery Administration, and this beautiful new assembly area, which will allow visitors to honor fallen veterans in a serene and comfortable space, will become a national model for philanthropy to enhance military cemeteries.

New Media Journalism. The Patterson family built much of its fortune by investing in innovative journalism. The Foundation is partnering with independent online community news organizations to develop methods to keep journalists on the cutting edge of their evolving industry and to develop sustainable and financially thriving models for community journalism that promotes democracy and citizenship.

Aging with Dignity And Independence. Despite the stresses of arthritis and dementia in her later years, Dorothy Patterson insisted on living at home with as much independence as she could. As a first step in learning how to connect older adults with support and resources, the Foundation has partnered with SCOPE (Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence) to explore the ways in which our aging population relates to the community. What we learn will be a catalyst for action in communities far beyond our own.

Cultural Connections with Students. Jim and Dorothy Patterson were close to their nephews and nieces, often taking them to cultural events, and they supported education in many ways. The Foundation has established, an online platform that will connect teachers and students with Sarasota’s many cultural and science resources and can be adapted by other communities. A $500,000 matching challenge will raise $1 million to fund Ed Explorations, to support experiential learning in Sarasota County Schools.

Digital Imagery. The Patterson family were trailblazers in visual journalism and technology, and Jim himself was a passionate photographer. The Foundation has partnered with the Ringling College of Art and Design to develop the Ringling College Collaboratory, an initiative to integrate real-world client projects within the curriculum.

Arthritis. Dorothy Patterson endured rheumatoid arthritis, and the Foundation is helping those in similar situations by supporting the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter with fund raising, marketing and social media. In the first year of our partnership, the AFFC reported a 318 percent increase in its Jingle Bell Run/Walk fund raising. The Foundation’s match dollars created an endowment to keep the chapter financially strong and sustainable.

Caregiving. While researching an initiative inspired by Dorothy Patterson’s battle with dementia, the Foundation discovered an enormous need to connect caregivers with information and resources. We have partnered with Central Florida’s Share the Care to take Caregiver Central, an online platform for caregivers, to other communities.

Diabetes. With support from The Patterson Foundation, the University of South Florida, has launched Bringing Science Home, which will transform how societies and individuals manage chronic disease. Jim Patterson lived with diabetes, and this initiative, initially funded with $5.6 million, will start by working with diabetes patients and their families. The Foundation recently issued a dollar-for-dollar matching challenge to build a $4 million endowment to support this initiative.


“A foundation is often challenged in choosing between serving visible immediate needs or longer-term remedies. It is the intellectual choice of being a charity or serving as philanthropy.” —Eugene W. Cochrane, president, The Duke Endowment


Reimagining Philanthropy InnovationReimagining Philanthropy Innovation

In everything we do, innovation is key.

In the 21st century, philanthropists cannot be satisfied with maintaining the status quo; we must embrace new ideas to address a constantly changing world. We seek out the best partners for our work, and we ask questions that challenge them to work more effectively and creatively. Our partners engage and connect with others, which sparks new approaches and solutions to common problems.

We understand that some new approaches will succeed and others may not. Learning what does not work is also an essential part of our journey; challenges as well as successes move us closer to our goal of transforming lives and communities.

Innovation in Action: an Example

Through its Dementia Initiative, The Patterson Foundation partnered with the Sarasota Memorial Health System’s Memory Disorder Clinic, interviewing more than 100 individuals in the healthcare industry to research best practices for caring for adults with dementia. This research revealed that one of the greatest gaps in dementia care is providing resources for caregivers. To address this, the Dementia Initiative evolved into Caregiver Connect, an innovative effort to provide caregivers—of all types, not just those caring for those with dementia—with information and resources.

We discovered that Share the Care, a nonprofit caregiver support service in Central Florida, had developed a new online tool, Caregiver Central, to connect caregivers to each other and to important information and resources. Through The Patterson Foundation’s Caregiver Connect initiative, we will monitor the effectiveness of the online platform and eventually help develop a model to share this tool with other communities.


“Innovation—the heart of the knowledge economy—is essentially social.” —Malcolm Gladwell

“None of us will succeed on our journey alone. The spirit of mutual success is at the heart of how The Patterson Foundation works. Alone we fail; together, we succeed.” —Dr. Byron Harrell, Philoptima



Reimagining Philanthropy CollaborationReimagining Philanthropy Collaboration

Partnerships are at the core of every one of our initiatives. At every level, we are accessible and engaged with others. Knowing that people—and organizations—work better and faster when they work together, we seek out innovative and thoughtful partners in our various initiatives. We learn as we collaborate, and we share both our successes and our challenges. Our partners also collaborate with others, sharing ideas and leveraging their resources and assets. We like to describe the process as creating “connective tissue” that links separate efforts and organizations together into a larger and more effective whole.

It can be challenging to look beyond our individual identities and agendas to work like this, but the process is proving to be rich and exciting, and it is already resulting in transformative new approaches and solutions.

Collaboration in Action: an Example

In response to the 2011 tornadoes in Alabama, the Disaster Initiative focused on inspiring as many people as possible to donate to relief efforts, recognizing that this would not only increase the help the victims received but strengthen community bonds in the stricken areas. The Patterson Foundation partnered with The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama to establish a $100,000 dollar-for-dollar matching challenge for tornado relief. After the Alabama foundation reached its goal, The Patterson Foundation increased its matching challenge twice—first to $200,000, then to $250,000, resulting in $500,000 to aid rebuilding efforts. This strategy allowed The Patterson Foundation to maximize its impact by inspiring collaborative philanthropy from individual donors.


Reimagining PhilanthropyReimagining Philanthropy

Three Critical Lenses

Each new initiative we undertake will be different, but we will view each one through three critical lenses: communication, technology and financial thrivability. These lenses will help sharpen our vision so we can see what could be rather than what is, enabling us to focus on the new realities we will create.


Communication is a crucial part of collaboration, and we want to engage with people who are on the leading edge of their fields. Before embarking on a new initiative, The Patterson Foundation works to gather the appropriate leaders to share ideas and innovations. Members of The Patterson Foundation team connect locally and beyond with leaders in other places to learn from their experiences and bring those ideas back to Sarasota. As we develop and implement ideas and strategies, we communicate openly about what we learn, both from our successes and our failures.

We believe it is critical to improve communication in the nonprofit sector. Effective communication, including through digital and social media, can expand an organization’s reach and improve its outcomes; yet many nonprofits lag behind when it comes to communicating in the 21st century. By connecting organizations with the latest knowledge, tools and resources, we can dramatically increase their impact.

Communication in Action: an Example

For the Arthritis Initiative, The Patterson Foundation helped the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter (AFFC) develop new communication strategies. The Patterson Foundation promoted AFFC’s mission through traditional media outlets such as billboards, radio and print. We also helped develop social media strategies and offered training in online communication for the AFFC staff—training that will help the staff continue to communicate effectively long into the future. By adapting new communications strategies and tools, the AFFC increased its annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk fund raising by 318 percent and developed sustainable methods for increasing results and expanding relationships.


Many charitable organizations are so focused on the demands of their operations and so overwhelmed by fund-raising pressures that they don’t step back and look for new ways to work more efficiently. Yet new technology could make them stronger, facilitating communication, streamlining record-keeping and connecting them and their clients with a wide world of resources. We help organizations adopt emerging tools and technologies so they can focus more energy on their primary missions and increase their influence and achievements.

Technology in Action: An Example

As part of the New Media Journalism Initiative, The Patterson Foundation supported Chicago’s inaugural Block by Block: Community News Summit in 2010. The summit kicked off The Patterson Foundation’s efforts to connect publishers and editors of independent, online news organizations to share ideas about innovation in community-driven journalism. The Foundation also partnered with the University of Missouri Reynolds Journalism Institute to develop Journalism Accelerator, an online communication platform for independent news publishers to share news, ideas and techniques. Journalists and publishers who before might have been working in relative isolation now are sharing their experiences, exchanging new ideas and growing into a deeply connected community. An ongoing blog by our initiative leader further adds to the acceleration of ideas and solutions.

Financial Thrivability

Financial planning is sometimes an afterthought for an ideas-driven, mission-oriented organization. Yet a nonprofit must thrive financially to accomplish its work. Without financial stability and strength, the best intentions and programs will perish. The Patterson Foundation helps nonprofit groups adopt wise business models and sustainable budgets. In addition to ensuring the most effective use of donated funds, we can help groups with other strategies that build economic viability—for example, establishing a venture business to generate new funds. The Patterson Foundation team challenges its partners to think about how their mission will thrive even after the Foundation’s funding is gone. Thorough planning and wise business models ensure lasting impact beyond the initial gift.

Financial Thrivability in Action: An Example

The Foundation established our Collaborative Restructuring Initiative to help nonprofits in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties examine their business structures. This initiative aims to maximize the impact of individual organizations through partnerships, networks, back-office collaborations and mergers.

Last April, The Patterson Foundation’s independent consultant helped three local Red Cross chapters discuss consolidation. After the process revealed that restructuring would reduce operating costs and broaden the impact of each chapter, the Manatee, Southwest Florida and Charlotte County Red Cross chapters merged into a single regional chapter.

The Patterson Foundation’s Collaborative Restructuring leader was deeply involved in the process—an example of the Foundation’s conviction that instead of simply writing a check and walking away, we can make the most significant impact when we join in the work and help facilitate the most effective outcomes.


Rooted in Sarasota, Reaching around the WorldRooted in Sarasota, Reaching around the World

Much of our work begins in—and benefits—our local community.

The Patterson Foundation is proud of its Sarasota roots. This is not only the community that Jim and Dorothy Patterson embraced as their retirement home; Sarasota attracts leaders and achievers in business, medicine, art, education, science and other fields because of its cultural riches and reputation for creative excellence, including in the not-for-profit field. Sarasota provides fertile ground for germinating new ideas and approaches, and we are privileged to work with many local leaders and organizations through our initiatives.

Successful communities share certain elements: They have strong schools, effective healthcare systems and a thriving arts and cultural sector. All our many Sarasota-based initiatives are focused on those areas, and in the process are strengthening what is already an exceptional city.

For example, the Foundation is supporting a collaboration among Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the Sarasota County Health Department and Senior Friendship Centers by funding independent consultants to facilitate a planning process to streamline the county’s healthcare safety net.

We have also helped many Sarasotans in crisis during our first two years, through such efforts as our Student Emergency Fund, which provides local students with glasses, shoes, medical attention and other tangible and critical resources, or our matching $500,000 challenge gifts to the Season of Sharing, which have helped this annual campaign to prevent homelessness achieve record fund raising. We are supporting Sarasota’s Institute for the Ages, which will become a national center to pioneer products, services and strategies for our rapidly aging world.

The Patterson Foundation has already inspired significant change in Sarasota. Much of that work can be a catalyst to inspire change far beyond Southwest Florida—including in the philanthropic world.

And ultimately, that is our intention: to create new realities that will transform communities locally and beyond. Our global initiatives include partnering with the international organization NetHope. We started with an investment in Japan’s earthquake recovery and are now a catalyst funder for NetHope’s Open Humanitarian Data Initiative, a growing collaboration among 36 international organizations.

As the needs of Sarasota and the larger, global community evolve, The Patterson Foundation will continue to ask questions and inspire innovation. It is our privilege to fulfill a legacy generated by wealth that was created by innovation and financial acumen and shared with the world by Dorothy Patterson. We will continue to be inspired by her thoughtful generosity and by her charge: “Do good and do it well.”


“If we shift the focus away from our individual interests and resources and instead look at how to solve problems in combination with others, a host of new possibilities will unfurl.” —Kathleen P. Enright, PREsident & CEo, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations


The Patterson Foundation

The Patterson Foundation believes that communications, technology, and financial innovations may achieve improvements that transcend any single issue, entity, or region. The Foundation provides resources to facilitate, expedite, and share methods, techniques, and tools, joining with others in creating new realities.

2 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 206 | SARASOTA, FLORIDA 34236

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