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Foundations Funding Age-Friendly Work, The Patterson Foundation Skip to content

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The Patterson Foundation

Sarasota. Florida, at night.


The Patterson Foundation logo

Created by Dorothy Patterson in 1997 from money she inherited after the death of her husband, Jim, a journalist and heir of a media family (Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News), The Patterson Foundation is a fully endowed charitable foundation that works with "partners to accelerate positive change" because "the act of creative collaboration produces results and knowledge that can be applied more broadly to transcend any single act of philanthropy."

Target Audience or Region: The Foundation has an “unfettered charter” of, it says, "no stipulations of geographic or issue focus."

Focus of Its Work: The Patterson Foundation provides "independent initiative consultants" to assist partners by filling in gaps of specific knowledge and providing strategic and tactical expertise. The Foundation describes its "partnering approach" as building long-term relationships to "ensure the thrivability of the outcome long past the life of the collaboration." Since the Foundation has the flexibility to be imaginative in its philanthropy, the initiatives it has supported include public-private partnerships and multi-sector networks such as the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the Aging Mastery Program, an initiative of the National Council on Aging.

The Funding Model: The Patterson Foundation does not solicit grant proposals, nor does it accept funding inquiries. Instead, it partners with organizations, primarily nonprofits and philanthropic foundations, by leveraging its "existing relationships with subject matter experts and providing direct support, delivering the strategic insights and resources it takes to create new realities." Future endeavors usually evolve from existing partnerships and initiatives. 

Why Age-Friendly Work Is a Priority: The Foundation is based in Sarasota, Florida, which has one of the nation's highest populations of older adults. "The Patterson Foundation engages in innovative philanthropy in our region and beyond to create new realities," says Debra Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. "This mission aligns beautifully with the age-friendly community model, which fosters learning and sharing among government, businesses, organizations and people as they work to build a better community for all ages."

Age-Friendly Work IT Funds: Sarasota County, Florida, joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2015. The Patterson Foundation supports Age-Friendly Sarasota, a county-wide effort to promote healthy and happy living for people of all ages, by facilitating a partnership that includes AARP Florida, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Sarasota County government and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

How an Interested Community Can Engage: Sarasota County residents age 50 and over can add their voice to the community's age-friendly conversation by taking the online "Age Friendly Sarasota Survey." The survey will be used to assess the community's age-friendly assets and aspirations to guide next steps. Visit for more information or follow Age-Friendly Sarasota on Facebook and Twitter.


Related AARP Content: Download "Age-Friendly Community How To's," a presentation by Kathy Black, Ph.D., a professor of gerontology and social work at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and The Patterson Foundation consultant to Age Friendly Sarasota.

Profile published September 2015

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