The Patterson Foundation: Florida Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder supports a wide range of initiatives in many funding areas and prioritizes the Sarasota, Florida, area. Patterson’s source of wealth derives from former Chicago Tribune owner, Joseph Medill.

FUNDING AREAS: Aging, science, nursing, public parks, disaster relief, grade-level reading, and health safety net, and over a dozen other initiatives

IP TAKE: It can be a bit difficult for new grant seekers to conceptualize this foundation’s strategy since it has so many initiatives and does not approach grantmaking with funding cycles. The approach seems a bit vague, but Sarasota groups can still get in touch with the office manager with inquiries.

PROFILE: The Patterson Foundation is based in Sarasota, Florida, and makes grants locally. It seeks to strengthen “the efforts of people, organizations, and communities by focusing on issues that address mutual aspirations, foster wide participation, and encourage learning and sharing.” Dorothy Patterson is the foundation’s benefactor; this is a fully endowed charitable entity that was established in perpetuity. However, the foundation’s funds can be traced back to Joseph Medill, who was the great-grandfather of Dorothy’s husband, James J. Patterson. Medill was the owner of the Chicago Tribune in the mid-1800s. The foundation’s trustee is Northern Trust.

Unlike many foundations in the Southeast, Patterson does not invest time in grant cycles or requests for proposals. Instead, it prioritizes collaborations and connecting people and organizations in broad ways. Sarasota and Manatee Counties are regions of interest for this foundation.

There are many different initiatives at this foundation that touch on topics like aging, science, nursing, public parks, disaster relief, grade-level reading, and health safety nets. In fact, this funder typically has around 20 different initiatives at any given time. Grant seekers can visit the website to view current foundation initiatives. This approach with many initiatives has been a staple of Patterson Foundation funding since 2009. It does not give an indication as to when existing initiatives will end, new ones emerge, or priorities shift.

Once Dorothy Patterson’s estate was settled in 2009, the foundation’s endowment grew to over $200 million. Current financial data can be viewed here. Unfortunately for grantseekers, this foundation does not accept new inquiries for funding. Therefore, grant seekers should not approach this foundation like other funders in the region.

The foundation is run by a small staff consisting of a president/CEO, director, office manager, initiative specialist, and communications coordinator. Contact them at 941-952-1413 or via online form. There is also a governing board and consultants that work with the foundation.

Keep up with the foundation on its blog. Past topics touch on access to healthcare, early literacy, disaster philanthropy, and healthy aging. Patterson also posts press releases on the website to highlight recent grantmaking.  


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)


Funding Model


Current Initiatives


A Look at the Patterson Foundation’s Six-Figure Bayfront Commitment