Where in DC is VPP?

December 10, 2018

VPP has been busy over the past few months! We’ve shown up for many events to listen and learn from our community; share our approach to philanthropy and our latest thinking; and to participate in conversations about how we can improve Greater Washington so that more young people have opportunities to succeed.

Here’s a quick look at where we’ve been recently and what we’ve been up to!

Raise DC Fifth Annual Graduation Pathways Summit

VPP is proud to serve on the leadership council of Raise DC, a collaborative effort creating cross-sector partnerships to provide young people opportunities from cradle to career. On October 29, Carol Thompson Cole, President and CEO of VPP, was invited to provide opening remarks. She said, “While we act with urgency, we also know that change doesn’t happen overnight. Learning from previous efforts across the city, Raise DC emphasizes investment in sustainability of our efforts. This investment means mission buy-in deeply within and broadly across organizations to weather leadership transitions, funding to fill gaps and scale what works, and maintaining effective staffing within Raise DC to facilitate the multiple workstreams over time.”

The summit was part of the Graduation Pathways Project, a citywide initiative that engages education agencies, schools and civic leaders to act on a shared vision that every young person in DC has a path to high school graduation. VPP leads the Disconnected Youth Change Network, committed to reengaging young people who aren’t currently enrolled in education or a training program.

Pathways to High-Quality Jobs for Young Adults

Along with charting pathways to graduation, we look at where the road after education goes. Child Trends partnered with the Brookings Institute’s Metropolitan Policy Program to release research on what young people need to have high-quality jobs by the time they’re 29. Our Director of Outcomes, Assessment and Learning, Isaac Castillo, moderated a panel about the research findings and what organizations can do to ensure young people have what they need to get good jobs.

WRAG Brightest Minds Event

VPP is an active member of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, a network for nonprofits and foundations who are dedicated to improving the health and vitality of our region. This fall, Carol moderated a panel on “How Philanthropy & Business are Growing the Economy of Northeast Ohio.” During the discussion Deborah Hoover, President & CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, shared insights from their work to create collaboration between the business and philanthropic sectors in Ohio to strengthen their region – they also discussed lessons for how these strategies could be used in Greater Washington. Carol emphasized that, “You have to be patient but persistent to move this work forward.” Bill expanded on this point, drawing distinctions between patience and acceptance, that the former is about being more strategic and understanding in order to get results.

We were also pleased to again attend the WRAG Annual Meeting, and congratulate Tamara Copeland on her 12 years of leadership and immense contribution to improving our communities.

Special Funder Briefing With DCPS

As DC Public Schools entered a new school year, VPP sat down with Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander and former interim Deputy Mayor of Education Ahnna Smith. Carol led a discussion and facilitated the panel for area funders to learn about DCPS priorities for the 2018-2019 school year and discuss how the philanthropic community can help students, teachers, administrators and families have a successful school year. The event was co-hosted by the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation, Venture Philanthropy Partners, The World Bank Group and WRAG’s Children, Youth & Families Working Group.

The Economic Club’s 32nd Year Milestone Celebration

VPP is honored to have received a prestigious award from The Economic Club of Washington, DC. The award is intended to “provide meaningful support for organizations that have a clear focus on the education of underserved youth in the Greater Washington area for success in school, the workforce, and life.” With that intention, the Economic Club has directed the $50,000 award to support our Ready for Work initiative in Prince George’s County. The initiative works to ensure that young people are getting the support and resources they need to become successful adults and contribute to the region’s economy.

WeDC Fest

During a three-day conference that brought together entrepreneurs, leaders, investors, creatives and innovators from all over the Greater Washington region, VPP joined a panel on “How to Run Your Nonprofit Like an Impact-Driven For-Profit.” Our Vice President of Finance and Operations, Chuck Redmond, explained how VPP invests in nonprofits and models with a rigorous commitment to evaluation and impact. He shared lessons on what nonprofits can do to better plan for success and attract future funding.

CityFirst Enterprises Impact Forum

Using philanthropy to improve our region requires staying abreast of different funding strategies that support good work. VPP participated in a panel at CityFirst Enterprises to share lessons about impact investing and how to prepare nonprofits to receive investments.

Photo Credit: CityFirst Enterprises

In a discussion led by Lisa Hall (Case Foundation, Georgetown University, Beeck Center of Social Innovation), the panel discussed investing in existing communities, working in Opportunity Zones and VPP’s approach to investing in organizations so that they have the capacity to do pay-for-success models.

Photo Credit: CityFirst Enterprises

Carol shared the panel with Bruce McNamer (President and CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation), Kimberlee Cornett (Managing Director, Social Investment Practice at The Kresge Foundation) and Bill Bynum (CEO, Hope Federal Credit Union, Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative).

In response to an audience question about how nonprofits who don’t produce a financial return should position themselves as enticing investments for this approach, Bruce pointed to VPP as “the pioneer in impact investing in this region in terms of a new approach. It’s not about financial return but it’s about intentionality. it’s about measuring for impact. It’s about holding their nonprofit partners accountable, even with great respect.”

WRAG Nonprofit Summer Learning Series

Earlier in the summer, Carol participated in another WRAG event, this time as part of the panel, “Today’s Funders are Looking to Invest in Solutions NOT Organizations.” The discussion highlighted cross-sector strategies that funders use to actively improve the region.

Where is VPP headed next?

As part of our commitment to building the philanthropic field in Greater Washington, VPP participates in many events across the community. To keep up-to-date on where we are, be sure to subscribe to us on social media, where we share what we’re doing and the discussions we’re having!