A Family Story, One Decade in the Making

Community Foundation of Sarasota County | February 21, 2022 | Ascend Network

Think of how much our families evolve in 10 years. A seven-year-old will move from second-grade spelling tests to walking down the hallways of their dream university. At the same time, their parents may transition from school pick-up lines to their own school successes and career advancement. We don’t traverse our lives alone. We build upon our experiences together, as individuals, as families, as communities.

A decade ago, our Community Foundation came together with Ascend at the Aspen Institute to ensure these very same hard-earned cycles of opportunity would endure long into their children’s – and even grandchildren’s – lives. Building on the groundwork of programs like L.E.A.F. (Literacy Empowers All Families) and the generosity of donors like Edward K. Roberts and Jo Bowen Nobbe, our partnership with Ascend crystalized a strategy long in the making that infuses all we do at the Community Foundation. Our whole-childwhole-family philosophy – a two-generation (2Gen) approach – guides all our community investments and supports. 

Our 2Gen approach became the critical lens in which we view our work and move the needle on core indicators in our region from education to workforce development to economic vitality so families can thrive.

A decade on of intentionally leading with this philosophy, we’ve seen invaluable lessons emerge that I hope will enrich your own efforts:

  • Collaborate to push through complexity: Early on, evidence-based partnerships were trusted catalysts in adopting and broadening 2Gen success. Pilots like the Eagle Academy at Alta Vista Elementary School, guided by Principal Dr. Barbara Shirley and philanthropists Mary Kay and Joe Henson, soon became models for other initiatives across all Title 1 elementary schools in Sarasota County. Multifaceted challenges like summer learning loss, school readiness, and parent education were met with solutions equally as diverse – from stipend and mental health support to ESOL classes and leadership programs – offered by community partners that continue to this day.
  • The success of an adult’s life directly influences their child’s success: Through our Parent Success Program, post-secondary support – including scholarships provided by our foundation and other opportunities from our partnership with Sarasota County Schools – has empowered parents to enroll in post-secondary education or seek out foundational skills essential to continue on this path.
  • Center those voices closest to the challenge: Listening to the concerns and hopes shared by parents – and acting upon them – is the purpose of our Parent Advisory Council. In addition to being a social support network, the council serves as a way for those who have been touched by our 2Gen work to have an active role in refining its ongoing blueprint and execution

That blueprint is still ongoing as we conduct a thoughtful review of our decade of investing in a long-term, multi-generational approach, and engage our community for guidance on our next step in this lifelong journey to address our greatest challenges. Look for more details in the weeks and months ahead.

The Community Foundation engaged in a three year, collaborative 2Gen pilot with Horizons Unlimited Christian Academy that included support for teachers, students, and their parents. Upon the conclusion of the pilot, parents shared how they felt they had a greater capacity to create a better future for their families.

In many ways, our own experiences of learning, listening, and leading with a 2Gen approach mirror both the complexities and aspirations of the many families our nonprofit community serves. As long as parents are willing to embark on the pathways to educational success and economic security, we will be ready to help continue their story, in this decade and all those to come. 

If you’re willing, I invite you to share lessons from your own family story, especially how you’ve looked to them in your service to others, in a personal message. As always, I’m eager to continue listening and learning alongside you.

With hope,

Roxie Jerde

President and CEO

Community Foundation of Sarasota County

This blog post was originally published in the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Blog.

Related Posts

This Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Week session discussed two-generation (2Gen) strategies to achieving improved outcomes for families.
Ascend NetworkJuly 19, 2023
On May 9, members of the Ascend team had the opportunity to visit Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. Here are three takeaways from our site visit.
Ascend NetworkJune 14, 2023
Ascend at the Aspen Institute builds intergenerational family prosperity and well-being for children and the adults in their lives through a two-generation (2Gen) approach. This mean we intentionally and simultaneously focus on supporting children and the adults in their lives together. We center racial, gender, and economic equity in all our work along with the …

Meeting Young Parents in LA County Where They Dream Read More »

Ascend NetworkApril 27, 2023
We are delighted to share a new research report in partnership with Child Trends: Data on Families with Low Incomes Across America Can Inform Two-Generation Approaches. In this new analysis, research experts Elizabeth Wildsmith and Marta Alvira-Hammond paint a detailed picture of how families in households with low incomes in the United States have changed …

Data on Families With Low Incomes Across America Read More »

PublicationMarch 1, 2023
Magazine cover reading Kansas Child
In a recent article for Kansas Child Magazine, Ascend executive director and founder Anne Mosle discusses the how 2Gen approaches can build on family resilience to meet the moment for children and families.
Media MentionsOctober 19, 2022
Mental illness affects 1 in every 5 Americans, however, inefficiencies, siloes, and disparities among systems make it challenging for families with low-incomes to access the health supports that are essential for them to live their healthiest lives. Health and well-being is foundational to individuals’ and families’ ability to reach their full potential, which is why it’s one …

The Family Partnership’s 2Gen Approach to Mental Health Read More »

Ascend NetworkOctober 11, 2022
As an organization with a vibrant Early Head Start program and a two-generational approach to alleviating poverty, All Our Kin has been a proud partner in Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s Family Prosperity Innovation Community. Being part of this group among 20 partnering organizations has given All Our Kin the opportunity to bring its innovative model …

Mom and Son Duo Reflect on Family Prosperity Convening Read More »

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation CommunityAugust 11, 2022
To help families cope with loss, trauma, and isolation, community leaders and practitioners are using the two-generation (2Gen) approach that honors their experiences and builds off their strengths as a whole family.
Ascend NetworkJune 28, 2022
In episode 14 of the City of Kalamazoo's Shared Prosperity podcast, Ascend's Sarah Haight sits down with Kevin Ford, the city's Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Coordinator. Throughout their discussion, they speak about the two-generation (2Gen) approach to improving family and community well-being.
Media MentionsMay 2, 2022
Intake forms are important because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I'm heartened by Ascend Network partners' efforts to simplify intake processes for families with low incomes involved in two-generation (2Gen) programs.
Ascend NetworkApril 28, 2022
Although Black women continue to make significant contributions to their families and society, including being the top breadwinners and the most educated demographic earning a postsecondary education, the road to economic recovery and well-being is still further from their reach than their counterparts.
Ascend NetworkMarch 24, 2022
A commitment to rigorous learning and evaluation is fundamental to the implementation of a two-generation (2Gen) approach so that we’re measuring how well programs and policies serve the whole family. This is reflected in research being the first principle of a 2Gen approach, and it’s embedded in the day-to-day work of Ascend’s 450+ nationwide Network Partners. These visionary practitioners and systems …

From Proof Points to Building Evidence: Creating A Two-Generation (2Gen) Research Agenda Read More »

Ascend NetworkMarch 10, 2022
Mayor Muriel Bowser has officially proclaimed today, December 1st, 2021, as Two Generations, One Future Day in Washington, D.C.!
BlogDecember 1, 2021
Anne Mosle and Marjorie Sims co-authored an op-ed in Penn Live/ Patriot News discussing the accomplishments of Ascend Network partners in Pennsylvania and present opportunities ahead to advance family well-being by centering families through two-generation (2Gen) approaches. We are at a moment in the nation – and in Pennsylvania – when a paradigm shift is in …

We’re entering a new era that will provide stronger support for struggling families in Pennsylvania Read More »

Ascend NetworkOctober 19, 2021
Two-generation approaches (2Gen) meaningfully engage and listen to families as equal partners in setting and achieving family goals. Family expertise and advice drive the design of two-generation policies, programs, and services. The voices and perspectives of people affected by policies and programs are essential elements of making them work. The words of parents and caregivers animate and reinforce what we learn from the data and the facts on the ground about these policies.
BlogAugust 3, 2021