While I’ve traveled across Florida and the southeast this last year and half, it’s been a while since I had the chance to gather with leaders from other philanthropic institutions. A few weeks ago, though, I was reunited in Asheville, North Carolina with colleagues through Philanthropy Southeast where the call for courageous leadership guided hallway conversations and insightful sessions.
One such session, hosted by Paul Shoemaker, author of “Taking Charge of Change: How Rebuilders Solve Hard Problems,” captured my attention. Several years ago, I had served alongside Paul and other philanthropy leaders as part of a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation convened group to craft a strategic giving guide, so I was familiar with his work and leadership. In his session, Paul described five vital traits of tomorrow’s leaders: 24-7 authenticity, complexity capacity, data conviction, cross-sector fluency, and generosity mindset. His underlying message:
Advancing change for the world we live in now, as well as tomorrow, requires an all-encompassing approach, one that is grounded in results as much as it is in abundance.
Experiences had and lessons learned in Asheville came neatly packed in my suitcase back home with me. Along with my colleagues at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we are reviewing nearly a decade of investments made using data to power decision-making, especially how we think about our two generation (2Gen) approach to lift parents up toward educational success and economic security.
Recently, we published a 2Gen Parent Success Impact Report that offers an annual snapshot of community partnerships, pilot programs, and strategies supporting children and the adults in their lives in north Sarasota County. From a three-year preschool pilot at Horizons Unlimited Christian Academy to the launch of our Parent Advisory Council, our investments in this space have expanded to ensure all perspectives and generations can be touched by change.
Students, teachers, and parents at Horizons Unlimited Christian Academy (HUCA) preschool in north Sarasota, where a 2Gen pilot – funded by our Community Foundation – combined high-quality early education for all HUCA students, with targeted family supports for 11 Pre-K families.
By the numbers, more than 330 parents were served, with two-thirds of those parents enrolling in college and the other one-third participating in foundational programs, such as workforce trainings.
While these statistics underscore the vitality of a whole family philosophy, if you look closely, you can see something else at work. Be it the complexity of data analysis, authentic testimonials from parents, or cross-sector collaboration between foundations, nonprofits, and the school district, I see those five traits for building a better tomorrow as both a current reflection of our 2Gen approach and as an aspirational blueprint to emulate, refine, and bring to life in our region and beyond.
We’re still putting the finishing touches on this 10-year review of a long-term shift to a multi-generational, multi-sector approach to addressing some of our greatest challenges through philanthropy. Look for more details about our investments and opportunities to offer input into our next step in this lifelong journey in the weeks and months ahead.
I’d like to end this message with a call to action of my own. As you ponder your resolutions for the year to come, ask yourself how you can expand your definition of courageous leadership. Remember that no matter where or when you find your answer, a generous mindset paired with thoughtful action has the potential to warm all hearts.
With wishes for a hopeful holiday season,