A Look at the Patterson Foundation’s Six-Figure Bayfront Commitment

There’s a multi-sector, community-led effort in Sarasota, Florida to reinvent the city’s bayfront, and one local funder is taking the lead to support it. The Patterson Foundation, which is based in Sarasota, just announced its $300,000 commitment to the planning initiative, making it the first funder to set aside six figures for Bayfront 20:20.

This park and waterfront project is all about turning 42 acres on the Sarasota Bayfront around the Van Wezel into a premier arts and cultural district. According to the funder’s website, in response to the positive work done to date, the Patterson Foundation approached Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 to provide facilitation expertise. Overall, it seems that this effort and grant support are more about arts and culture development than land conservation and open space preservation.

Yet there’s still a lot of funding needed to make this project happen. It’s estimated to cost at least $2.5 million, so there’s still plenty of room for other foundations to follow in Patterson’s footsteps. Other foundations that have shown support for this effort so far include the Argus Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, and the Van Wezel Foundation.

However, Patterson’s big commitment isn’t all coming at once and will actually be split up into three parts. The first $100,000 is going towards developing a planning organization and nonprofit board. Then the next two $100,000 portions will ultimately be contingent upon the board’s fundraising efforts. When they reach $1 million in fundraising, Patterson will release some more money, and then again when it hits the $2.4 million fundraising mark.

Something that makes this Southeast funder unique is that although it is a fully endowed charitable foundation, it focuses on networked initiatives rather than individual organizations in a four-county region. Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is just one of the many current initiatives at the Patterson Foundation. Counties of interest are Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto. This is a foundation that doesn’t believe in simply writing checks. It sees its staff as “initiative consultants” on a mission to strengthen the community.

These are some of the other topics that are important to this funder and that are addressed in its initiatives:

  • The elderly
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Third grade reading proficiency
  • Disaster relief
  • Nonprofit sustainability
  • Art & design education
  • Veterans
  • Homelessness
  • Healthcare safety net
  • Nursing

In total, the foundation has supported more than 40 initiatives locally, nationally, and globally, but over 70 percent of those donation dollars stay local. You can keep up with how the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 project is progressing and what other funding groups start showing their support by following the organization’s news blog.