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From High Potential to High Performing: Announcing the Second Cohort of Nonprofit Capacity Building

February 12, 2019

Only by reaching across sectors and joining together can we improve the lives of young people in Greater Washington. Recently, Venture Philanthropy Partners and the Prince George’s County Council announced an expansion of our effort to ensure that high school students have the skills, tools and resources they need to be career- and college-ready by strengthening the local nonprofits who serve them.

In 2017, VPP launched the Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative with a cohort of four nonprofit partners. The initiative is propelled by a belief in the power of local organizations to serve the community, and that investing in nonprofits to strengthen them empowers these organizations to not only serve more young people but better support them.

A key goal of Ready for Work is to build networks of community-based organizations that can provide integrated supports for students. The Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative is working to strengthen the capacity of these nonprofits to provide more students in the County with high-quality services. The nonprofits that participate in the initiative are multi-service organizations that support a broad range of positive children and youth outcomes. This cohort includes nonprofits offering an array of complementary programmatic supports for students, for example, academic achievement, workforce readiness programs, expertise in serving immigrant high school populations, healthy behaviors and high school completion.

VPP has seen significant progress with the first cohort of four nonprofits. With the help of our partner in this effort, Fair Chance, each nonprofit received a rigorous assessment and developed a tailored workplan that was designed to build their internal capacity. Each nonprofit executive director spends 8-12 hours per week with their assigned capacity building specialist on their workplans in addition to attending quarterly workshops on topics like program evaluation and board development. Prince George’s County has recognized the value and benefit of this work, deciding to continue this partnership to support a second cohort of participating nonprofits.

After a rigorous and selective application process, VPP is pleased to welcome the following organizations to the second cohort of the Ready for Work Nonprofit Capacity Building Initiative:

  • The Training Source provides education, training, and services that promote positive economic mobility. Their youth programs help young people remove barriers of success in high school and prepare for the workforce or post-secondary opportunities.
  • College and Career Pathways, Inc. helps facilitate postsecondary access and success for students from historically underserved populations, while increasing their awareness of the wide range of educational and career options available to them.
  • Liberty’s Promise supports young immigrants in need while encouraging them to be active and conscientious American citizens. The Nonprofit Capacity Building program will enhance the organization’s expertise serving high school-aged immigrants to better serve the needs of students in the county.
  • Community Youth Advance has a special focus on serving youth during out-of-school time, where they aim to fill existing gaps and harness the power of community to help underprivileged youth excel in school and life.

As with the first cohort, each of these organizations will receive support from VPP and Fair Chance during this three-year program.

Prince George’s County Council Chair Todd M. Turner (D) of District 4 supported the initiative in his statement, “The Council appropriated funding in FY 2018 and FY 2019 to support Ready for Work, and it was important for us to continue this critical program dedicated to improving the lives of young people. We are pleased to partner again with VPP and the Council congratulates the selected nonprofit participants.”

Each of these organizations was selected for their potential to create positive outcomes for young people and to meet the needs of their community, especially as we think about the kind of nonprofit networks that we need as our work continues in the community. The initiative represents a slight evolution in VPP’s approach: Rather than investing in organizations only to help them scale, we are also looking at organizations with high potential to help them become high performing. We know the importance of having strong local organizations serve communities in this region and we are committed to ensuring that Prince George’s County has a robust ecosystem of nonprofits that can help improve the lives of young people long into the future.

Helping nonprofits transform into high performing organizations is a complex process that offers support with multiple parts: strengthening their grant writing skills, management and report writing skills, their board leadership, and increasing capacity within the organizations. As further assistance, nonprofits in this initiative are also eligible to compete for mini-grants that they can use to focus on select organizational or programmatic capabilities.

To read more, see the Prince George’s County Council press release here.