Collaboration is Key

Guest Correspondence

As the school year winds down here in Sarasota, I feel a touch nostalgic for my own school days in Iowa. Looking back, I realize the friendships and connections I made as I progressed through my education truly enriched my experience and made me into the person I am today. Some of you may know I was a cheerleader, started my university education focused on a nursing career, changed to a business major and found friendship through a sorority. I see now I was drawn to each of these collaborative environments where working as a team was highly valued. Together, we felt courageous, unstoppable, empowered to make a difference.

I feel the same way when I look at our diverse community and its robust spirit of collaboration. Every day, nonprofits and community leaders alike are forming unique collaborations to cultivate goodwill, foster initiatives and create opportunities for donors to work with groups across organizations with ease to fulfill their charitable dreams.

In more ways than one, the richness of our community shines through these great partnerships that help bridge passion and potential to inspire lasting impact.

One notable example is the Cross College Alliance, a collaboration across institutions of higher education to expand learning experiences for local students. Since 2014, the Alliance has linked The Ringling Museum, New College of Florida, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Ringling College of Art and Design and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, allowing for cross registration, faculty collaboration and resource sharing. 

Further demonstrating the spirit of collaboration, the initial funding for the Alliance was provided by the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and our foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

As separate entities these are all effective and important institutions, but when combined they offer more than 150 degree and certificate programs to 16,200 students under the guidance of 400 faculty members and 1,500 full-time employees. By building these relationships across so many different boundaries, the Alliance is creating a culture of cooperation and innovation that is rethinking higher education in our community.

With such a close connection, the possibilities for lifelong learning, research and growth are limitless.

In fact, just recently the Alliance was awarded a $55,000 grant through an anonymous donor with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to support its Environmental Discovery Awards Program, a field-immersion internship program for students passionate about the environment. The Alliance’s distinct partnerships with local nonprofits and organizations not only offer these invaluable experiences for career development, but also amplify opportunities for students and communities to create a better future together. 

As the achievements of the Alliance clearly show, we all can maximize our impact through collaboration.

Our community foundation sees this value in collaborative philanthropy, and through other programs like the Giving Circles, The Giving Challenge and Season of Sharing, we strive to bring people and organizations together to uplift, inspire, and make a difference as one community.

Looking forward, let’s all find ways to build bridges. Just as my fellow classmates inspired me growing up, so too can each of us through our individual actions that have the potential to be even more far-reaching than we originally envision.

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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