Photo courtesy of sarasotagov.com
I’m writing this as I fly back to Washington, DC, from Sarasota, Florida – where the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) is exploring how to apply the two-generation approach that Ascend at the Aspen Institute has put forward. Sarasota is a beautiful place – gorgeous beaches, the crystal blue water of the Gulf, a thriving arts community – “paradise,” some might say. But unfortunately, it isn’t paradise for everyone. With a child poverty rate of 22 percent and 31 percent of single-mother families living in poverty, many families have the odds of achieving economic security stacked against them.
Anne Mosle and I had a chance to spend two and half days in “roll-up-your-sleeves” strategy sessions with the CFSC team – analyzing the foundation’s current grantmaking portfolios to look at how applying a two-generation approach could streamline, link, and connect resources to produce more effective and efficient outcomes for children and parents in Sarasota. What we learned is that Sarasota possesses the necessary criteria to fuel community leaders as they move forward on their two-generation journey over the next several years: community readiness and need to take on an innovative approach to tackle a challenging issue, a strong community anchor partner in CFSC, philanthropic interest and support, nonprofit capacity, and multi-sector engagement.
Ascend Advisory Board member and supporter Charlotte Perret, who was instrumental to connecting Ascend to community leaders in Sarasota, participated in our strategy sessions. As we closed out our time together, Charlotte noted, “I could not have imagined a more extraordinary, mutually supportive, creative and strategic relationship that is creating a huge potential for transforming our Sarasota into a paradise for all its citizens, not just for those at the top.”