The Abundance of Diversity

Categories: BELONGING AND CULTURE: Uniting Community, Grants, Nonprofits, CEO Message, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion,

Think back to your high school economics course. Amidst the swirl of supply and demand curves, graphs, and calculations, you may remember your teacher talking about the fixed pie analogy. In economic terms, we tend to assume that the pie is rigid, that resources are limited, and that sharing a slice of the pie means giving up a piece of my own. You win, I lose, and the pie remains intact. However, I suggest we rethink this analogy. Instead of a fixed pie, life is more of a potluck, where each of us can bring something of value to the table and nothing is lost that isn’t given in return.

At the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we tend to look beyond limitations, instead seeking opportunities of what can be. Repeatedly, the path to success is marked by embracing abundance and rejecting a scarcity mindset. After all, our most precious resources – hope, love, and respect – are infinite, expanding as we connect, collaborate, and come together as a community. These ingredients are essential to expanding the pie, and the crème de la crème of this is our diversity.

This past month, I had the privilege to attend Sarasota Magazine’s 10th annual Unity Awards, a celebration honoring individuals who build bridges across differences and take strides to promote respect, acceptance, cooperation, and tolerance. While each of these leaders was recognized for their unique story of community impact and collaboration, all of them were united by the belief that embracing diversity is the foundation for building the community we all want to live in. This spirit of celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion inspired me to offer a grant in each honoree’s name to the nonprofit organizations they are passionate about supporting.

Celebrations like the Unity Awards show us that diversity is an abundant resource. It is part of a larger effort to recognize that all of us are smarter than one of us, that we have something to bring to the table, and that our similarities as well as understanding our differences bring our community that much closer together.

Our Community Foundation looks at the abundance of diversity as one way to “expand the pie,” to ensure each one of us is empowered with plentiful resources and opportunities to realize our full potential. Earlier this month our Board of Directors approved nearly $7 million in grants to further the sharing of knowledge within our local nonprofit community. Some of these grantees include:

  • 22 nonprofits – including Big Cat Habitat, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, and WSLR Inc. – received a portion of about $45,000 in funding to support communications planning through the Edward K. Roberts Fund for Emerging Needs to better demonstrate their purpose and mission through unified communications.

  • 22 Sarasota County schools received more than $70,000 in EdExploreSRQ grants to take students on experiential, curriculum-based field trips to expand their learning, which range from Venice High School students exploring the Harlem Renaissance to Cranberry Elementary students learning about forces and physics at The Circus Arts Conservatory.

  • Several nonprofit organizations that work across generations to help families realize their full potential: a second $10,000 grant for Parenting Matters to further the development and implementation of a comprehensive early learning pilot for children ages 3‐5 with a primary goal of kindergarten readiness and success; $32,000 for Sarasota Housing Authority to support their “Pathways to a Better Life” program, which supports families who agree to work or be in school full time through case management, housing and savings support, childhood health screenings, and childhood development; and, an additional $50,000 of our $200,000 commitment to The Florida Center for Early Childhood to support a mental health therapist in Emma E. Booker, Gocio, Alta Vista, and Tuttle Elementary schools.

As you can see, each one of us has something of value to bring to the table, and there is plenty to go around. Don’t believe me? I encourage you to venture more intentionally into your own day to day community, broaden the lens to see beyond the norm in your daily routine, and strive to make everyone feel validated regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation…whatever makes them them. If you do this, I think you’ll find that life isn’t a just neat, round pie – it’s a potluck of our abundant diversity.

With appreciation,

Roxie Jerde

About Author

Roxie Jerde

President and CEO