Bequest Boosts Small Florida Foundation Into 'Big Leagues'

Bequest Boosts Small Florida Foundation Into 'Big Leagues'

A nearly quarter-billion-dollar bequest from a Sarasota widow has boosted a modest and largely anonymous local charity into the ranks of the twenty largest foundations in Florida, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports.

The Patterson Foundation will receive an unrestricted gift of $225 million from the estate of Dorothy Patterson, who died in 2007. Established in Sarasota with $3 million after the death of her husband, James, in 1992, the foundation had provided solid but unspectacular annual support to such local charities as Goodwill Industries, All Faiths Food Bank, and Habitat for Humanity.

Patterson left no stipulations for how the funds were to be spent, enabling foundation trustees to define its mission. With its new financial clout, the foundation expects to award $11 million in grants in 2009 alone, and will likely focus initially on organizations, individuals, and special areas of need in the greater Sarasota area. "It would seem to make sense for us to start with what we know," said foundation chairman John Berteau.

Debra Jacobs, longtime CEO of the Selby Foundation, also in Sarasota, has been tapped to lead the Patterson Foundation, starting in January. "There are seventy thousand private foundations in this country, and every one of them is different," said Jacobs. "But this one — the degree of 'no strings' — really is unique."

Bill Hutchinson. "Gift Puts Sarasota Charity in Big Leagues." Sarasota Herald Tribune 07/29/2008.