Hope & Belonging

Categories: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, EMPOWERMENT AND SUCCESS: Literacy Support, CEO Message,

Dear Friends:

In January, I wrote to you about the values that were guiding my focus for this year. There were 10 principles, and each continues to inform all we do with our donors and non-profit partners. Today I wanted to share with you how I have seen two of those values - hope and belonging - come together this last month.

As many people know, one of my favorite sayings is "All of us are smarter than one of us." It is more than a colloquialism; I believe this is a mathematical truth. When people are connected and working toward a common goal, the whole is greater than the individual.

"All of us are smarter than one of us."

This plays out time and again. We recognize it through championship-winning sports teams, collaborative scientific researchers advancing medicine, and actors whose performances create transcendent experiences for audiences.

In our community, philanthropy has that same generative energy. Like-minded people coming together in support of causes they are passionate about (the hope) builds momentum through a network (the belonging) to accelerate change.

Often, I have the privilege to meet individuals who care deeply about an issue like children's literacy, women's rights or justice reform, just to name a few. In a region like ours that regularly welcomes new residents, those new to the area are eager to understand how they can meet others who have similar interests and create solutions around those hot-button, global issues right here in our community.

In the last month the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has hosted or attended several small gatherings of our donors who have amazing knowledge about subjects like children's mental health, breaking the cycle of multi-generational poverty, better integrating the true diversity of our region across our cultural and social institutions, and building education programs that can change healthcare for decades to come.

These are large, complex subjects that no one person or organization can address on their own. The smart and strategic work needed around these issues will take time to manifest social change. But what I find motivating are the energy and actions that build from these discussions.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a wonderful example of how many individuals, businesses and agencies uniting around a specific issue can affect change in a variety of ways. Together, we can be proactive and develop forums to address these issues. Each of us has a role to play. Your Community Foundation of Sarasota County is committed to be the inclusive convener, creating connections and conditions that allow us demonstrate how "all of us are smarter than one of us."

As always, I want to hear from you. What change do you hope for and how can we help build spaces to unite you with others? Let me know. We're listening.

With gratitude for making a difference,


About Author

Roxie Jerde

President and CEO