Crummer Alumna Leverages Social Entrepreneurship Class to Secure Major Grant for Bach Festival Society

January 9, 2019 - by Jake Rakoci

Jolene Patrou '18MBA credits Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on’s social entrepreneurship class for helping her receive a significant grant from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation.

There was something about Dr. Conway Dato-on’s social entrepreneurship class that really stuck with Jolene Patrou.

As the development manager for the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Jolene Patrou had the task of writing a grant that would propel the Bach Festival’s long-term strategic plan.

Founded in 1935 at Rollins College, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park is one of the longest operating Bach Festivals in the country and the oldest performing arts organization in Central Florida.

Operating as their own 501©(3), the Bach Festival Society has enjoyed a long-term relationship with the college, with every Rollins president serving on the Board of Directors. They also use the Knowles Memorial Chapel and Tiedke Concert Hall as their main event venues.

As a nonprofit, the Bach Festival Society relies on grants and community support to continue their operations, so securing a major grant from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation—an organization founded in 1959 to provide grants for Central Florida nonprofits and a major supporter of the Society in the past—was a crucial get.

Fortunately, she found herself preparing the grant at the same time she was taking Dr. Conway Dato-on’s social entrepreneurship class as a Professional MBA student.

“I was working on the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation Grant, and my boss looked at the draft and asked if there is anything I was learning in school that might help change it,” said Patrou.

The social entrepreneurship class, which emphasizes experiential learning by assigning each team a company and the task of developing an actionable social business model, immediately stuck out to Patrou.

Patrou recalls learning about sustainability and scalability, and how you can’t scale if you’re not sustaining greatness in your core principles.  

“In Dr. Conway Dato-on’s class, I learned how important is it to take a step back when attempting to further the mission of an organization. As great as it is to continue to do all of these amazing things in the community and continue the organization’s mission, you really have to focus on the core things you do for the community and continue to do them well. You can’t take on a new project at the sacrifice of something in core programming,” said Patrou.

After speaking with her boss and telling her about what she had been learning in her social entrepreneurship class, Patrou said they decided to revamp the grant proposal, focusing the entire request on sustainability.

She broke down the request into three categories that relied on sustainability; staffing, donor development, and marketing.

“For staffing, we need to sustain our staff in order to grow. For donor development, it’s cheaper to market to someone already within your organization than to go out and find new patrons. Finally, we want to keep people close to the organization who are passionate about it and market it to new ones who will be passionate as well,” said Patrou.

With a newly written grant request, Patrou submitted it to the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation and was able to secure a major grant for the Bach Festival Society.

“It is very exciting. This is such a big grant,” said Patrou.

For Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, seeing the class concepts applied to the real world and helping an historic Central Florida nonprofit to continue its mission is what makes her so passionate about her career.

“I am immensely proud and excited that Jolene and other students applied the concepts from class to improve themselves and their business/organization,” said Dr. Conway Dato-on. “This is truly an inspiration for me and epitomizes why I love teaching at Crummer. The fact that the grant Jolene authored will have a rippling effect in our community truly manifests Crummer’s mission to positively impact our communities.”

Looking forward, Patrou says the grant will open up opportunities in the Bach Festival Society’s long-term strategic plan to scale into an even larger Central Florida arts institution.

“If we could focus on our sustainability with the Elizabeth Morris Genius Foundation grant, then we can shift our focus to then finding new ideas in the future,” said Patrou.

As a recent MBA graduate from Crummer, Patrou says Crummer has provided her with a newfound confidence in the workplace, especially what she got out of the social entrepreneurship class.

“You’re going to work in Dr. Conway Dato-on’s class but you are going to be better for it. It may be a little bit harder than some of your other classes, but it feels so good when you meet the expectations,” said Patrou.

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