This spring break, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy students were able to participate in a Study Away course with The Patterson Foundation in Sarasota, Florida. What follows is their experience, in their own words.
By: Baylee Kasprzak
Last semester I got an email stating that applications for the 2022 Study Away class were going to open soon, and due to the trip in 2020 being canceled I was unsure of what the trip entailed. As a senior in the Philanthropic Studies program, I wanted to make my last year as an undergrad memorable. I did my research on The Patterson Foundation, which has a partnership with the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and fell in love with the work that they are doing in the four-county surrounding areas. The Patterson Foundation is located in Sarasota, Florida, hence why the class is called Study Away. I submitted my application the day they opened and was really excited about what I could potentially be learning in this class. Fast forward to about a month later I found out that I was accepted to take the class, so the countdown began!
During our first class meeting, on January 21st, 2022, we learned all about what our role was going to be in this class. We were each given a set of initiatives to learn about and we were to rank them in the order in which we preferred to work with and learn more about which in Sarasota. At this point in the semester, we were still unsure about what the rest of the semester was going to look like but all 12 of us were hopeful that this trip was going to happen.
Our second class had two guest speakers to talk about Inspiring Philanthropy and Capacity Building. For Inspiring Philanthropy, we had Jeannie Sager who talked to the class about The Giving Challenge and Giving Tuesday, and she offered some very personal experiences and knowledge with something that she is very experienced with. Fredrik Andersson spoke to the class about Capacity Building and Social Entrepreneurship in his research. Fredrik is very intelligent and offered all of us a new perspective on being a social entrepreneur.
On February 18th, our third class, we had Kathi Badertscher come to speak to us about High Touch, High Tech, and the importance of social movements in history. Kathi’s conversation with the class was very engaging and helped to prepare us for our time that we will be spending in Sarasota. For the remainder of the class, we gave our brochure presentations where we were put in groups to research the four counties that The Patterson Foundation works with and present them to the class. These presentations were important for the class to learn more information about the different areas that we would be visiting during our Study Away trip.
Finally, on March 4th, our last class before the group flies from Indianapolis to Sarasota, we were able to have a conversation with a previous Patterson Foundation Fellow, John Ferguson. He spoke to us about his time with the foundation as well as his work with the Digital Access for All initiative. From a student perspective, it was nice to learn more about The Patterson Foundation from someone who spent a year working with them. I think saving John for our last guest speaker was the cherry on top that we all needed before this trip.
Our twelve students and two instructors have received all of our itineraries and we cannot wait to be in the Florida sunshine to learn about such an impactful foundation. What makes this trip even better is that this trip is unique to the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Follow along to see photos and how we spend our time in Sarasota!
Happy Birthday—and Orientation!
By Kelsi Auker
Kicking off our week with rhythm.
By Jumaanah Harris
Embracing our Differences: A Reflective Analysis
By: Joe Trentadue
Education is one of the most powerful ways that we, as nonprofit leaders, can inspire change within future generations to ensure that our world is a better place. Embracing Our Differences, a nonprofit organization located in Sarasota, FL, strives to do just that. The organization believes that “through the transformative power of the arts, we educate and inspire to create a better world.” The organization envisions a future world “that embraces diversity, respects differences, and actively rejects hatred and prejudice.”
As a study away from a student with The Patterson Foundation, I was able to observe and view the variety of artwork and attend the “Embracing Our Differences Tour.” The exhibit was located on Sarasota’s Bayfront Park and contained student artwork from over 123 countries around the world. A myriad of pieces struck me, but the ones showcased below personally moved me.
“We Are All Human” by Farzana Yeasmin tells the story of how all people, regardless of race, place of origin, and status are integral to the human experience. When looking at the piece, you see individuals which different skin tones, different hairstyles, and different types of clothes all engaged in painting the same globe. This reminds us how important it is that all individuals bring a unique and important background and perspective to situations and that their voices matter. We should not value others only because they look like us, or talk like us. It is through meaningful connection and observation that we can learn of these incredible differences and be opened to a new way of thought and empathetic concern. The individuals who are not actively painting the globe within the piece are smiling, eagerly looking at their earthly brothers and sisters with excitement and anticipation of what they will create. In their artist statement, Yeasmin notes that “everyone’s contribution is significant. If all remain united forgetting the external differences, this world will be a better place.”
“Children Playing” by Connie Springer echoes a similar sentiment, showing a group of young children from various racial backgrounds playing and enjoying one another’s company. This image specifically spoke to me and made me think about how racism and hatred towards one another can be a learned behavior within society. These children are most likely toddlers and are excited and eager to be around one another. They have been socialized quite yet into a world where racial differences and status have a history of determining discrimination and exclusion among groups. This image also shows a vision of how Embracing our Differences as an organization seeks to educate future generations. If we can teach our children and youngest generations to love another for their differences and to appreciate and integrate all voices in society, these generations will grow up to become inclusive and open-minded Changemakers.
I think it is important to note that recognizing the innate differences in how different groups are viewed within society is key to fully promoting inclusion and equity. We cannot uplift one another until we analyze and see which of our brothers and sisters need the most help, and have suffered the greatest losses throughout society. These pieces truly conveyed to me that appreciation for our differences is key to creating a society that rests upon social justice and equity; educating our youth to embrace this is crucial.
Tuesday–Pop-up Laundry Day
By Molly Grimm
A week of Growth to Remember
By: Phuong Train Nguyen
By: Emma Rota-Autry
Happy Thrilling Thursday from sunny Sarasota! At seven-thirty am, my classmates and I began our busy day gathered downstairs on the 8th floor for a complimentary breakfast buffet. Since we only had twenty-five minutes to eat, I scarfed down my sausage links, egg casserole, and muffin as I made my way to The Patterson Foundation (TPF) building. As we arrived at the TPF building, my classmates and I were divided into our initiative groups so that we could work diligently on our small team projects.
I met my small team in the large conference room for a one-hour weekly team meeting followed by an ample amount of time to work on my presentation with my partner which was due the following day. After settling down, my partner, Jumaanah, and my team leaders, Cheri Coryea and Kiarra Louis, led us into a team meeting that was focused on Jumaanah and my time at DeSoto County, Florida. Jumaanah and I shared our observations with the Digital Access for All team which provided them with helpful feedback and knowledge. We were able to explain to the team the different challenges that DeSoto county faces like their constant issue with unreliable or expensive internet.
After speaking to the team about this issue and many others, Jumaanah and I were given work time for our presentation that was due the next day. She and I worked to brainstorm in detail five recommendations for the Arcadia Housing Authority needed to leverage their existing resources needed to strengthen their community outcomes. At 11 o’clock am, we joined our classmates for our next activity of the day which was to participate in a Giving Challenge Panel Discussion Luncheon.
Here, my classmates and I had the opportunity to not only learn more about the Giving Challenge but also give feedback to local nonprofit leaders about their Giving Challenge efforts needed to help strengthen their campaign. Hearing from local Sarasota nonprofit leaders truly warmed my heart since I was able to see their passion and love for not only their organization’s mission but also for the Giving Challenge. Around 1 o’clock we headed back to the hotel to rest followed by visiting Patriot Plaza which is a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Ceremony. Here, my classmates and I were able to learn about the history behind Patriot Plaza along with other interesting facts and features.
This was a heart-warming experience that I will remember and tell others about in the years to come. At five-fifteen we departed Patriot Plaza and made our way towards Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse. Since it was Saint Patrick’s Day, the restaurant was busy and had a band play on this thrilling Thursday. At dinner, we were able to eat some of America’s favorite foods like cornbread, mashed potatoes, pulled pork, green beans, mac and cheese, and so much more.
As the food took a while to arrive, we chatted and some of my classmates and I decided to move our way to the dance floor for a quick song or two. After some time, our food arrived and made its way to our stomachs allowing us to go back to the hotel with a full stomach needed to sleep for our small team presentations the following day.
Early Learning for all
By Emily Eshbach
Patriot Plaza: Where Freedom is Embraced, and Patriotism continues to Inspire
By Jenni Evans
“…let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan”-Abraham Lincoln
These profound words etched eternally on the stone walls of the entrance of Patriot Plaza serve as a reminder to all who enter. Patriot Plaza is located within the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, FL. Located within Sarasota National Cemetery, Patriot Plaza was completed on June 28th, 2014, by The Patterson Foundation, and donated to the National Cemetery Association.
When I arrived at Patriot Plaza, the sea of marble headstones dotted the landscape and invoked a sense of formality and grandeur. As I walked amongst the artwork, which included a mosaic tile display, 22 marble plinths, a pair of blue mosaic spires, 16 white marble tablets with engravings and glass-printed photographs, and two majestic 7-foot bronze eagle statues, I was able to understand that this was not a sad place, but a place of peace and reflection that families and veterans could mourn, but also celebrate their lives and those of all military members.
Patriot Plaza features a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater which is crowned by an awe-inspiring 20,800-sq.ft. covering made from 792 glass panels, as well as unique and thought-provoking commissioned artwork that honors veterans, inspires patriotism, and embraces freedom. One of the most impressive sights was the amphitheater itself. The stanchions that were holding the glass panels were misleading. After speaking with our tour guide, we learned that they were holding the glass ceiling down, in order to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Some of my favorite art installations included:
“Night to Day, Here and Away”-This installation included a 50-foot glass and ceramic mosaic on the stage and two giant mosaic spires on each side of the pavilion. The stage mosaic shows depictions of the Earth’s elements of air, water, and land and the 5 branches of the military. The mosaic also shows the change from day to night and back today, representing how military families may be watching nightfall or sunrise at the same time in another part of the world. The two large spires on opposite sides of the pavilion repeat the same themes and include laurel wreaths and service ribbons. Blue and gold stars are featured throughout as blue stars represent a family who has someone active in the military, while gold stars represent those who have lost a military family member.
“Witness to Mission”-Of the twenty-two marble plinths, the two that were most interesting to me were of a WWII veteran who was placing flowers on a memorial to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day and a photo of a family who was buoyant with joy to see their father return from service. My great-grandfather served in WWII and just the pure joy on the family’s face was so positive.
“Testimonies”-These focus on telling the personal stories of service members and their families. The one that was most impactful to me was the “Conflict” tablet. As someone who has worked with veterans who experience homelessness, this hit home because when they return home from service, there are so many other hurdles that they must deal with, that are often unseen.
Patriot Plaza is an amazing place to visit and just reflect on those who gave their lives so that we can continue to embrace our freedom.
Last Day, Best Day: Impactful Presentations, Learning Sessions, & Fun in the Sun!
The Study Away cohort’s final day in sunny, Sarasota began with our usual continental breakfast & omelet bar at the Embassy Suites. A few students were putting final touches on their presentations, while others were using breakfast as a welcome reprieve from thinking about their presentations. When the clock reached 8:45am, we hustled downstairs and started walking to The Patterson Foundation just a couple blocks away. Philanthropy students, unsurprisingly, are a talkative bunch and everyone was questioning each other about their upcoming presentations as we made our way to The Patterson Foundation. Each team of two students had worked with an initiative that local nonprofits were engaged with. Though students only had 72 hours to act as a consultant for these projects, having a fresh set of eyes allowed each team to create unique recommendations for their nonprofits.
Our group walked into a flurry of activity at TPF as each student team was ushered into an office or meeting room. It was presentation time! As my partner, Phuong-Tran, began outlining her recommendations for The Charlotte Players, the faces on zoom froze. Suddenly, heads were poking outside of office doors with questions about the Wi-Fi bouncing down the halls. Stacey heard the alarm calls and quickly reset the router. Beyond the initial turbulence of technological troubles, the delivery of the presentations was smooth and within two hours our student team had gathered in the TPF lobby to share their success. Every nonprofit organization had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of recommendations.
The post-presentation relief was palpable. But the day was not yet done! We loaded into our minivans and headed to the local Community Foundation to participate in a Knowledge Sharing Session. Students shared various learning moments and highlights from the week concerning LWRCC. Everyone could recite this acronym by the end of the week: Leadership, Willingness, Readiness, Capacity, and Culture. We ended the lunch by taking a group photo with the TPF team, eating cake, and saying our final goodbyes.
And then – it was Friday after 2:00pm, meaning we had thirteen hours to call our own before leaving our hotel at 3:00am for the airport. Two of us decided to immediately hop in an Uber to visit Big Cat Habitat to see the animals that a couple of our fellow students had seen during their consulting project. The other students hopped on a trolly and hit the beach! The animal enthusiasts joined the rest of the classmates at the beach for a couple hours of soaking up the iconic Sarasota sun before ending the night with a seafood dinner. We “ubered” back to the hotel and said “see you in three hours” as we parted to our hotel rooms.
The satisfaction of presenting valuable recommendations to nonprofits, sharing our most noteworthy Study Away experiences as a collective, and celebrating our successes on the beach radiated from each of us – even at 3am the next morning. We are ready to bring this energy and enthusiasm back to Indiana and beyond!