• Engage: #2Gen

Two generations. One future.

Sarasota Case Study

As two-generation (2Gen) approaches gain momentum around the country, key communities are emerging as two-generation drivers or hubs to expand the opportunities available to parents and their children together. In partnership with Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Sarasota County, with leadership from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, has explored, developed, and implemented 2Gen efforts since 2012. With a focus on aligning the goals of community-based donors, nonprofit organizations, and businesses with opportunities presented by local educational institutions and the needs of families, the Community Foundation has become a leading model for integrating and driving a 2Gen approach across sectors for improved educational success and economic security for families. This brief details the process by which the Community Foundation embarked on its 2Gen efforts, key lessons and challenges that emerged from these efforts, results from 2Gen initiatives throughout the county, and examples of ongoing work.

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Ascend gratefully acknowledges the leadership and work of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and its donors, grantee partners, and families who have participated in its two-generation (2Gen) efforts over the past five years. We look foward to continuing to partner with the Community Foundation as it deepens and advances 2Gen work throughout the county and state on behalf of Florida’s children, parents, and families.

“When I first started at the Community Foundation, I was overwhelmed by all the great stuff that was happening — literally overwhelmed. It felt like I was on a six-lane highway with traffic moving in all directions, no street signs or lane markers, and congestion around every turn. Occasionally someone would stop to take pictures of sandhill cranes. Exciting, yes, but exhausting and virtually impossible to track and report outcomes. When we were first introduced to the 2Gen approach, I could clearly see a route, a traffic pattern, a destination — a vision for family success with a legacy of economic security and educational success for everyone. The six-lane highway still exists, and vehicles still spin out of control and collide, but the 2Gen approach has made the six-lane highway more efficient, effective, and functional for all who take this route.”

- John Annis, Senior Vice-President,
Community Foundation of Sarasota County



Over the last five years, Roxie Jerde, John Annis, and others within and beyond the Community Foundation have moved from educating colleagues and partners on what the 2Gen approach is to equipping them to implement 2Gen strategies and develop 2Gen programs (for more on the differences between 2Gen approaches, strategies, and programs, please see the 2015 report from Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Making Tomorrow Better Together). This has required significant relationshipbuilding, strategic planning, donor engagement, and culture shifts within and beyond the foundation. Key recommendations for other community foundations seeking to execute a similar approach include:


Be creative in how you embrace and employ existing donor-advised funds. Moving to a more holistic, 2Gen approach from focusing only on children or adults takes time and ingenuity. Engage staff across departments within the foundation to identify opportunities to align resources for children and their parents: For example, the Community Foundation is now being more purposeful with its adult scholarship program, which has existed for many years. The Community Foundation’s scholarship team is now making a concerted effort to engage the single parents in the attendance zones of the four Title I schools the Community Foundation works with to ensure that those funds are applied with a 2Gen focus.


No single organization or philanthropic entity can do 2Gen alone since its approach and principles identify collaboration as an essential element of successful 2Gen work. To that end, organizations must consider board members and community leaders as partners and engage them in the data that supports 2Gen efforts, the contextual challenges for those efforts, and 2Gen solutions. The Community Foundation’s development of a Task Force, which actively engages board members and community leaders, has helped create champions for its strategic focus on helping both children and their parents together. Additionally, the Sarasota County School Board, which helped develop and approve a data-sharing agreement among partners, as well as individual donors, such as the Hensons, Knapps, and Charlotte Perret, provided vital leadership and momentum.


Whether applying a 2Gen lens to a state human services department or a community foundation, institutional culture change is key. Moving toward a whole-family perspective often requires staff members to think differently about their work, including documentation, outreach, data collection, and communications processes. At a community foundation, where grant managers, administrative staff, donor engagement team members, and leadership may see themselves as managing different areas of work, a 2Gen lens requires a collective understanding and embrace of a new vision for serving families: namely, that streamlining resources and aligning services for children and their parents together will yield stronger outcomes than serving them separately. Community Foundation leadership helped guide culture change within the organization by conducting oneon- one meetings, developing vision and messaging statements, and providing input on how to further develop support for 2Gen approaches internally while remaining true to the Community Foundation’s mission and vision. These lessons also apply to the organizations with which the Community Foundation has worked to advance 2Gen initiatives, from staff culture shifts to board support.

Download the Case Study.