Sarasota resident Dorothy Patterson waited until her own death in September 2007 to make the biggest contribution of her life: a gift of $225 million to the Patterson Foundation. She formed the Patterson Foundation in 1997 in honor of her husband, Jim, who died in 1992.
But the charter she left behind was blank. The trust document that established the foundation allows it to do good in a way that maximizes impact.
With no grant cycle or application process, the foundation announced Wednesday it will be honoring the Patterson family heritage through nine initiative areas: Roman Catholic faith; military; new media journalism; aging with independence and dignity; connecting culture with students; digital imagery; and debilitating diseases: arthritis, dementia and diabetes.
The Patterson Foundation Leadership Designation Committee is made up of Chairman John T. Berteau and Dan Bailey Jr., of Williams, Parker, Harrison, Deitz and Getzen law firm, and Ric Gregoria, a certified public accountant.
The committee has selected partners based on their successful track records and their reputations for achieving positive results in these specific areas.
“As we honor the Pattersons’ heritage, we look for transformation outcomes,” said Debra Jacobs, Patterson Foundation president and CEO. “(The initiatives) are all related to the family, whether passions, concerns or a part of their life.”
With the Roman Catholic Church being an important part of the Pattersons’ lives, and because Patterson became a close friend of Sister M. Lucia Haas, the foundation will establish the Sister M. Lucia Haas Scholarship Endowment to benefit students attending Cardinal Mooney High School. It will make an immediate contribution of $1 million, with a matching challenge for an additional $1 million to be completed by Dec. 30, 2011.
In honor of the Patterson family’s history of military service — Jim Patterson attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and rose to the rank of captain during World War II — the foundation will fund the design and construction of a permanent memorial to enhance the National Shrine Assembly Area at Sarasota National Cemetery. Other local contributions will include the creation of a Memory Care Center in Sarasota County; partnering with Sarasota County public schools to connect students in kindergarten through 12th grade with local cultural assets; and partnering with Ringling College of Art and Design to create a unique laboratory environment where senior art-and-design students will earn academic credits by working with clients from both for-profit and non-profit sectors, governments and other organizations.
The nine initiatives will enable the foundation to learn while making an impact and reaching its long-term goals: to transform communities for the better and to “relieve” — provide support to help alleviate the impact of crises on individuals.
The foundation’s second long-term goal, “relieve,” will focus on three areas: Season of Sharing, where it will invest $250,000 to take the fund to its $1 million goal and offer a challenge grant for an additional $250,000; Students in Need Fund, a financially sustainable fund to provide last-resort funding to assure all students have the necessary resources to be productive and engaged in learning; and Health Safety Net, a partnership with the Senior Friendship Centers that provides a sustainable system of funding to meet last-resort, one-time, medical-and-dental needs of the elderly.
“We want to use our resources to do what others can’t, or aren’t able to, do,” Jacobs said. “We don’t know where we’ll end up, but we know the style.”