“Try new things and never give up and settle for the temporary solutions.”
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the Suitland High School drumline performance for the launch of our new initiative, Ready for Work: Champions for Career and College Ready Graduates in Prince George’s County.
I could not help but make a connection with the way the drumline played to the way Venture Philanthropy Partners collaborates with leaders from nonprofits, business, government and philanthropy. Neither VPP nor the drum line has a lone drum major.
And that is an important distinction.
In 1968, Martin Luther King delivered a sermon to his congregation. He told them to avoid the Drum Major instinct. The Drum Major instinct is the desire to be out front, to crave distinction, to lead alone. Dr. King said,
“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter... But I just want to leave a committed life behind.”
Over the past 15 years, Venture Philanthropy Partners has tried to provide a steady drumbeat of investment, support and innovation. We do this work because the success and dreams of the more than one-and-a-half million children and youth of the National Capital Region matter.
Their potential is only limited by our imagination.
Oh, how time flies.
This has been a joyous spring for my family. We are celebrating the achievements of nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. Ryan, Johnathan and Claudette are now college graduates. And we are praising Niya, Larkin, Joyce and Kayla who completed high school this month.
It is hard to believe they have reached these milestones. It seems like yesterday when they started school. Some days have been tough and there have been twists and turns in their journeys. Now we are applauding their successes. And they are planning for the next phase of their lives.
It takes caring adults to help young people make the transition to adulthood. Sometimes those adults are family members and sometimes they are community members.
As high school and college graduation season winds down, I want to recognize the hard work of our youthCONNECT partners who developed innovative programs in our communities to ensure more young people graduated from high school, went on to college and stayed in college once they got there.
Our youthCONNECT partners worked with VPP to develop a network of high-performing nonprofits who worked collaboratively to provide nearly 22,000 vulnerable youth with a range of services and support to help them develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors needed to graduate from high school and go on to succeed in postsecondary education and in the workplace.
In May, VPP and its network partners celebrated the innovations created and outcomes achieved through youthCONNECT. The event was full of lively music, artistic vibes and lots of excitement. It was a burst of vibrant colors.
We are proud of the effect that the youthCONNECT initiative has had and will continue to have on our six network partner organizations (College Summit-NCR, KIPP DC, Latin American Youth Center, Whitman-Walker Health, Urban Alliance and Year Up-NCR) and the youth that they serve.
And VPP is proud to serve as the backbone organization that coordinates and supports the network’s work.
Together we achieved what none of us could have done alone.
youthCONNECT has served nearly 22,000 vulnerable young people in the National Capital Region by offering a myriad of supports to help them develop the knowledge and skills they need to become successful adults.
There’s more than one way to host a celebration. One person might plan a sedate dinner party, with a carefully-curated guest list. Another person might opt for a big bash where “plus ones” are welcome. Though each approach looks different, the end result is the same: a group of friends enjoying a special occasion, a convening of people around the same table.
Similarly, we have found that there’s more than one way to “set the table” or begin the kind of collective-impact-inspired work that is happening in communities across the country.
Many collective impact initiatives begin with establishing a leadership council of community leaders and other stakeholders. We set the youthCONNECT table differently, beginning with a small cadre of youth-serving nonprofit organizations and inviting additional stakeholders to the table as we fleshed out our goals.
Our initiative to reach more than 20,000 youth in the National Capital Region began in 2010 with six youth-serving nonprofits and was developed in partnership with the executive directors of these organizations.
On April 20th, the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) released a study on the impact of their Promotor Pathway program, which has served approximately 450 young people in the Washington, DC area.
LAYC was a subgrantee of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) program through youthCONNECT.
Through youthCONNECT, each network partner developed and expanded their innovative programs, and then implemented rigorous evaluations of their programs. LAYC is the first of the six network partners to release their evaluations, and the results are impressive.
The study reported that participants in the program are 30 percent more likely to be in school, 30 percent less likely to have born or fathered a child in the past year and 60 percent less likely to have slept in a shelter in the previous six months.
Urban Alliance was established in 1996 to give youth access to professional growth and experience. The cornerstone of Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program (HSIP) model is paid, year-round internships funded by employers.
Urban Alliance has been an investment partner of VPP’s since 2010 through youthCONNECT.
VPP’s investment helped Urban Alliance:
• Grow the number of youth it serves through its internship program;
• Provide ongoing support services to its internship alumni;
• Expand curriculum outreach through workshops for young people beyond their internship participants. The curriculum covers basic work skills, such as punctuality, attendance, professional attire and communication skills;
• Explore replication strategies to scale elsewhere; and
• Conduct a high-quality, experimental design study to confirm the program’s objectives of increasing high school graduation rates and college enrollment.
VPP sat down with Julia Jones, who is a graduate of KIPP DC and the KIPP Through College program that was funded by youthCONNECT. She reflects on the difference KIPP Through College made in encouraging her to go to and stay in college at a time when she did not think it was possible. After you read the interview, be sure to watch this inspiring video of Julia telling her story at the youthCONNECT celebration.
VPP: After graduating high school, where did you envision yourself being in five years? Did you see yourself going to college?
Julia Jones: In five years, I envisioned myself either attending college or graduating college. When I went to KIPP DC Key Academy and all my other schools after, it was always instilled in me that college was one of the best paths to a brighter future.
|Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) makes the future brighter for youth living in the National Capital Region by tackling the largest barriers to their success and forging partnerships that bring the expertise, passion and reach necessary to achieve life-changing results. Over the past 15 years, VPP has raised $100 million to help children and youth of low-income families in the National Capital Region access quality education, health care and career training – setting them on the right path to learn, graduate, and become successful, healthy adults. This funding, coupled with our management expertise and support in strengthening staff leadership, has increased the capacity of local nonprofits to help them expand to 80 new sites and serve 50,000 young people each year.|
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