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The Bay Reaches Next Fundraising Milestone

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The Bay Reaches Next Fundraising Milestone

The Bay Reaches Next Fundraising Milestone

Propelled by a $5 million match challenge from The Patterson Foundation, The Bay Park Conservancy has raised $15 million towards its $20 million initial funding goal from private sources

SARASOTA, Fla. – November 17, 2020 – The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC), the non-profit organization responsible for overseeing the transformation of 53-acres of city-owned land along Sarasota’s bayfront into a world-class public park, has reached another important milestone for the project. Through a generous $5 million match challenge from The Patterson Foundation, The BPC has now raised $15 million towards its $20 million initial funding goal from private sources.

The Patterson Foundation’s $5 million match challenge includes an initial $2 million investment made in May 2019, followed by three additional $1 million contributions made each time The Bay raises $5 million from private sources toward its initial $20 million goal. This latest milestone marks the second $1 million contribution achieved so far. Donors can trigger the third $1 million gift from The Patterson Foundation by contributing toward Phase 1 of The Bay’s master plan, which will create a 10-acre park for everyone in our community to use and enjoy.

“From its earliest vision to the ongoing Phase 1 optimization and beyond, The Bay has shared The Patterson Foundation’s aspiration for creating inclusive opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect,” said Debra Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation. “The diverse collection of donors who contributed $5 million to achieve this $1 million gift affirms The Patterson Foundation’s long-term support for The Bay and this ongoing match challenge.”

These private contributions from foundations, philanthropists and individual donors will be combined with support from government sources to fund the capital cost of the first phase of The Bay Park. Government sources of funding include annual capital and operating budget support from the City of Sarasota, grants from various government agencies for projects such as the natural shoreline and kayak launch, and importantly tax increment financing by the city and Sarasota County.  

The city and county commissions recently approved up to 30 years of tax increment financing (TIF) for the new Bay Park and a new performing arts center. This TIF financing could be worth as much as $190-$200 million in capital project support over the next 30 years.

“From the very beginning, we’ve had the goal of creating a park that is open and accessible, free and welcoming to the full and rich diversity of our entire community,” said AG Lafley, Founding CEO, The Bay Park Conservancy. “We are so grateful to The Patterson Foundation, as well as our many private donors and public partners, who through their generosity and continued support, are helping to make this vision for The Bay a reality.”

Several key components of the first phase of the Bay Park are either completed or underway.  

In June 2019, the city replaced an old, crumbling seawall with a resilient ecological shoreline to improve stability and sustainability. This project was a collaboration between the City of Sarasota, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Coastal Protection’s Resilient Coastlines Program.

In January 2020, The Bay Park Conservancy opened a completely transformed Fountain Garden adjacent to the Blue Pagoda and Sarasota Garden Club at the corner of North Tamiami Trail and Boulevard of the Arts, which has provided a much-needed refuge and respite for the community during COVID-19.

Last month, the western portion of the recently revitalized mangrove walkway was opened to the public. This multi-million-dollar transformation of the Mangrove Bayou, including a walkway that will encircle the mangroves and connect to existing walkways along Sarasota Bay, rest and relaxation areas, and a kayak/paddle board launch, will be completed in January 2021.

The recommended site plan for the balance of the first phase of the park, including a pedestrian sunset Boardwalk, park lawns and a park pavilion, continues to work its way through the approval process with the city.

While park planning and development is underway, fundraising momentum continues. The BPC is on track to meet or exceed its goal of raising at least $20 million in private funding for the first phase of the park from private sources. Once this fourth and final milestone is completed, The BPC will earn the full $5 million match challenge from The Patterson Foundation.

In addition, The BPC continues to encourage the public and anyone in our community to become a founding Friend of the Bay. Nearly 500 Friends of The Bay contributed to The Bay Park during the 2020 Giving Challenge in April, raising more than $135,000 including matches for both number of donors and dollars donated. Today, there are 600 contributing Friends and when The BPC reaches 1000 Friends, the organization will earn a total of $100,000 in matching gifts for participation.

“Becoming a Friend of The Bay is a meaningful way to make philanthropy accessible for every member of our community,” said Veronica Brady, Director of Advancement, The Bay Park Conservancy. “For as little as $25, $50, or $100, anyone can have a part in building this legacy park that will be enjoyed for generations to come.” 

To become a Friend of the Bay or learn about ways to give to The Bay, contact Brady at (941) 374-2626 or visit For more information about The Bay Park, visit

About The Bay Park
The approved Bay Park master plan will conserve 53 acres of city-owned land and create an iconic public park along Sarasota Bay. The park will cost about $100-150 million and will take between 10-15 years, over 5 or more phases to complete. The Blue Pagoda serves as a welcoming center for visitors and an on-site office for The Bay Park Conservancy. For more information or general inquiries about this initiative, please visit: or call 941-203-5316.

About The Bay Park Conservancy
The Bay Park Conservancy (BPC) was formed as a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in 2019 to implement the master plan approved by the Sarasota City Commission to conserve 53 acres of public land for a community park on Sarasota Bay. The BPC entered into a long-term partnership with the City and will fund, develop, operate and sustain the park for the benefit of the community, now, and for generations to come. For more information, visit

About The Patterson Foundation
The Patterson Foundation strengthens the efforts of people, organizations, and communities. The Foundation focuses on issues that address common aspirations and fosters participation and ways organizations learn and share as they evolve. For more information, please visit and connect with @ThePattersonFdn on Twitter.

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655 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

Phone:  (941) 203-5316

Press & Media

Julia Groom

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(941) 365-9200

General Inquiries

Lori Denny

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(941) 203-5316

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