Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


April 2012

Fri, 2012-04-13

Pioneering Philanthropic Initiative Completes First Year of Results

One year after announcing the completion of its network selection process, the youthCONNECT network has completed its first full year of serving low-income and disconnected youth in the National Capital Region.

The collaborative group of six nonprofits, supported by VPP, other local and national funders, as well as the federal Social Innovation Fund, served over 6,000 youth in the first year. The network aims to provide comprehensive services and improve the life opportunities of low-income youth ages 14-24. Each network partner has made significant progress towards this goal.

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Five Additional Investment Partner Stories Released

As a part of its commitment to sharing what it learns, VPP has released five additional case studies on its first portfolio. VPP has previously released five case studies, and it now adds to the list case studies telling the story of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW), the Center for Multicultural and Human Services (CMHS), the Child and Family Network Center (CFNC), Friendship Public Charter School, and the SEED Foundation.

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President's Perspective         APRIL 2012

Carol Thompson Cole

Two Sides of the Same Coin: Outcomes and Collaboration

At VPP, we talk a lot about one number: $31 million. $31.4 million, to be exact; the amount of money we raised for our first fund of nonprofits in the National Capital Region. We are proud of this number, for good reason, but there is another number we do not talk about as much: $3 million, the total number of dollars invested from the first fund in outcomes and performance management systems to support our investment partners to grow their capacity and make smart decisions about their programs. These investments included staff, consultant resources, and technology tools. Looking back, we can see that this number made a big difference in the success of our first investments.

"Outcomes" and "performance management" do not exactly jump out as the most important investment strategies for funders supporting nonprofits during these tough times, with organizations stressed by increased demand for services while experiencing budget cuts across the board. But the popularity and response to Leap of Reason, our recent publication on the issue, shows that outcomes management is a hot topic, despite cutbacks.

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Pioneering Philanthropic Initiative Completes First Year of Results

One year after announcing the completion of its network selection process, the youthCONNECT network has completed its first full year of serving low-income and disconnected youth in the National Capital Region.

youthCONNECT logo

The collaborative group of six nonprofits, supported by VPP, other local and national funders, as well as the federal Social Innovation Fund, served over 6,000 youth in the first year. The network aims to provide comprehensive services and improve the life opportunities of low-income youth ages 14-24. Each network partner has made significant progress towards this goal:

•College Summit trained 200 rising high school senior Peer Leaders and 50 educators to implement its curriculum, serving over 3,000 students;

•In KIPP DC’s class of 2011, 86% have graduated from high school and of those who graduated 75% matriculated to college;

•Latin American Youth Center's (LAYC) Promotores Pathway served 220 youth with a 96% retention rate;

•Metro TeenAIDS began offering health education courses in 14 new charter schools;

•Ninety-eight percent of the youth that graduated from Urban Alliance’s 2010-2011 High School Internship program enrolled in college this fall, the highest percentage in its history; and

•Year Up-NCR hired its first Health Navigator and 3 Masters of Social Work (MSW) interns to provide additional counseling, healthcare services, and educational workshops.

"Working with these six organizations over the past year has been an honor and a privilege," said Marc Schindler, VPP's lead partner on the youthCONNECT initiative. "The results delivered for the youth of this region speak for themselves, and I believe we are on our way to building a truly transformative network of organizations."

One youth that is being helped by the network is Oscar, a young man who recently emigrated from Honduras. He was abandoned by his father once he arrived and was living on the streets when LAYC's Promotores Pathway found him. Through the program, he was placed in foster care and enrolled in high school.

"I hope that he will do very well in this country," said LAYC Executive Director, Lori Kaplan.

youthCONNECT combines the services and expertise of on-the-ground nonprofit providers with philanthropic and government resources in a pioneering approach to improving the lives of youth and strengthening communities. The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) has committed to at least three years of support for youthCONNECT, and those dollars committed will be matched three to one by VPP and the nonprofits in the network.

The network has already developed a common outcomes framework, a system for tracking and measuring progress across the network. Not only will this framework assist the network with managing and adapting its performance, it will also be a valuable resource to the field for others considering the best way to measure their work in these critical areas. A white paper on the framework will be released in the near future.

Other significant results of the network include beginning a strategic planning process, securing full match funding for the initiative’s first year as required by the SIF, and the development of external evaluation plans to evaluate individual programs.

youthCONNECT has also been fortunate to have the support and collaboration of other key funders and thought partners. "We’re proud to support the youthCONNECT network," said Sheldon Caplis, Regional Director of Community Development for Citi. "This is a terrific resource for empowering young people, and I hope to see communities in other regions looking to this network as a model."

Five Additional Investment Partner Stories Released

As a part of its commitment to sharing what it learns, VPP has released five additional case studies on its first portfolio. VPP has previously released five case studies, and it now adds to the list case studies telling the story of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW), the Center for Multicultural and Human Services (CMHS), the Child and Family Network Center (CFNC), Friendship Public Charter School, and the SEED Foundation.

VPP's investment in BGCGW coincided with an inflection point for the organization, as it had recently merged with the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. The BGCGW case study examines this critical juncture in the organization's history. The CMHS story chronicles its work to establish the organization as a leader in providing culturally-sensitive care for low-income youth and families. The CFNC case study shows how the organization strengthened its capacity to provide early childhood education for low-income children, helping them prepare for success in kindergarten and beyond.

The Friendship case study highlights how the organization grew from a few schools to one of the largest charter networks in the country, all while maintaining a focus on quality education. SEED’s story focuses on how it overcame the challenges they addressed as the first urban public boarding school in the US.

To read all the stories, visit VPP’s learning page. Check back for the remaining story on investment partner Heads Up soon!

Making Good Gives Advice on How to Make Money and Do Good

Two prominent social entrepreneurs released a book to encourage those interested in creating social change to follow their dreams, and make some money while they are at it.

Making Good, released last month by Billy Parish, co-founder of the Energy Action Coalition, and Dev Aujla, founder of DreamNow, offers a practical guide on how to develop your career in a way that prioritizes a difference, but also does not sacrifice financial stability. The book is based on three years of interviews conducted by Aujla and Parish with hundreds of Millennials, and contains case studies, exercises, and thought experiments to help the reader determine their perfect career path.

While aimed at the Millennial generation, the book is applicable to all those interested in working for change as a career. You can learn more on the book's website.

PerformWell Helps Practitioners Deliver More Effective Programs

Last month a group of researchers launched a new website, PerformWell, to improve the delivery of nonprofit services and help staff better manage day-to-day performance. The site offers information on surveys and assessments, identifying outcomes, and ways to improve service delivery.

The site was developed as a partnership between the Urban Institute, Social Solutions, and VPP's evaluation partner in youthCONNECT, Child Trends. The site is currently in a beta form, but offers a multitude of different resources to benefit nonprofits serving children and youth. Broken down by service area, there are several surveys and assessments to choose from to assess programs. Additionally, there is a database of available outcomes to track to determine program effectiveness.

To learn more, explore the resources on PerformWell.


Guests “Get Involved” at AALEAD’s 13th Annual Dinner

Thanks to Rick Chen, Director of Development and Communications, for this update.

AALEADOn Wednesday, March 21, AALEAD Board, Staff, and Student Ambassadors welcomed over 300 guests to the Silver Spring Civic Center for an evening celebrating student achievements and honoring local leadership. Guests included a diversity of supporters including major corporations, individual donors, Asian business owners, and community and education leaders. During the event itself, over $5,000 was raised through the support of guests’ red envelope donations, setting a new record. With this collective donation alone, AALEAD will continue to have middle school programs this summer for its youth.

Student ambassadors share their experiences at AALEAD programs with guests.

Prior to the program, guests enjoyed an opening reception, featuring authentic dim sum, drinks, and conversation. Guests also had the opportunity to interact directly with student ambassadors, who were also current participants of AALEAD’s programs.

The program began with inspiring words from Keynote Speaker, Eun Yang, anchor/reporter of NBC4, and was hosted by Becky Lee, Executive Director of Becky’s Fund and 2nd runner-up of "Survivor: Cook Islands" TV series. The evening proceeded with the presentation of the Washington LEADer award to international law firm, Latham & Watkins, for its many years of pro-bono legal services.

As a special highlight, AALEAD’s Dinner featured three student speakers from DC and Maryland schools, each sharing their personal AALEAD stories. AALEAD student alumna, Zefanya Rampengan, closed the evening discussing her previous experiences at AALEAD and its lasting impact on her life:

“One of my…personal challenges was college preparation. I was so uninformed of this process until I went to a girl’s AALEAD trip to Boston. It was my junior year in high school and it was my first time in Boston. The trip was educational, fun and most of all, eye-opening. We attended an ASPIRE [Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence] conference. Visiting colleges was my favorite. We visited Boston University and Harvard. The trip made me think about where I should go and what I should major in.

"Indeed, AALEAD is close to my heart; the staff, the friends, the memories and experiences. I’m grateful for everything they’ve done for me and especially for letting me share my experience with you. Thank you.”

Germantown Youth Wins Regional Club Tech Digital Arts Festival

Thanks to Andrea James, Communications Manager, for this update.

Connor Lugo-Harris, a 15-year old member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington's Germantown Branch, was named the regional winner of the 10th Annual Club Tech Digital Arts Festival.

Connor Lugo-Harris

Lugo-Harris's music creation, entitled Outer Space Synchronicity, showcased his creativity and tech skills learned at the Club. Club Tech Digital Arts Festivals allow Boys & Girls Clubs, along with founding sponsor Microsoft and Comcast, to give young people an avenue to get creative and design original pieces of digital artwork-from posters and PSAs to stop-motion animation and logos.

Lugo-Harris will advance to the national level and compete for an opportunity to receive an all-expense paid summer trip that includes sightseeing and job-shadowing experiences.

Listen to Connor's winning entry now!

CFNC Parent Wins Women’s Opportunity Award

Thanks to Alison Doherty, Development Associate, for this update.

Rebecca Tarawally with her family

CFNC parent, Rebecca Tarawally, has been chosen as the Soroptimist International of Alexandria 2012 Women’s Opportunity Award Winner. She was presented with the $3,000 grant at their dinner meeting on March 27th at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria. The Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards give women the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. This grant will allow Rebecca the opportunity to complete her Nursing Degree at the Virginia School of Nursing & Medical Institute.

Rebecca was born in Sierra Leone and came to the United States on a Lottery Visa about eight years ago to start a new life, progress professionally, and provide for her family at home. Rebecca first became involved with CFNC when her eldest son was enrolled at its preschool in 2006-2007. During that year she built a strong relationship with her preschool social worker. With this support, she was able to maintain her job as a single mother while she had her second son; she bought herself a car, began studying for her nursing degree, and moved into her own apartment. Today, her youngest son is a student at CFNC.

“It has been a challenging journey, full of big changes, but it boosted Rebecca to where she is today,” said CFNC social worker, Glymaris Lugo. “This grant represents the reward for all her years of hard work and a bright future for her family.”

CentroNía’s Students Participate in DC Reads Spelling Bee

Thanks to Laura Anduze, Communications and Marketing Manager, for this update.

Six CentroNía students participated in the annual DC Reads Spelling Bee held at George Washington University’s Funger Hall last month. About 40 1st-6th grade students from various DC public and charter schools received prizes for participating and enjoyed a reception with their families. Two CentroNía and DC Bilingual students placed in the final three.

Alyssa Cuff, CentroNía’s DC Bilingual Public 2nd grade student who came in at 3rd place at DC Reads Spelling Bee.

“CentroNía’s nine-year partnership with the DC Reads program at George Washington University, American University, and the Catholic University of America has significantly impacted the work that we do to improve the literacy skills of our children. During those nine years, over 300 tutors have kindly donated their time and effort to motivate CentroNía’s students to read and participate in events that foster literacy like the DC Reads Spelling Bee,” said Shahidah Abdul-Lateef, CentroNía’s Family Literacy Program Director.

“I had so much fun. It was excellent because I practiced hard and got 3rd place. I will do the Spelling Bee next year too!” said Alyssa Cuff, a second grade student at CentroNía’s DC Bilingual Public Charter School.

Through CentroNía’s Family Literacy Tutoring Program 180 students receive individualized reading support once a week. The program is open to all students from grades K-12th from all communities in DC.

College Summit Alumni Trained as Advocates for Capitol Hill Day

Thanks to Vinette Brown, Director of Development, for this update.

Attendees at the training

In November, College Summit convened 20 of its most successful alumni to engage in policy advocacy around postsecondary success. Alumni met with 18 Members of Congress and their staffs on Capitol Hill to establish relationships and educate them about College Summit’s overarching work and its efforts in education policy. The previous day, these same alumni attended an event supported by the Citi Foundation, where they were trained to become Citi Alumni Advocates (CAAs). Training was provided by the president of Public Squared, Richard Tafel, a leading expert in public policy training for nonprofits.

KIPP DC Hosts "March Madness" Benefit

Thanks to Lindsay Kelly, Communications Manager, for this update.


On March 23rd, KIPP DC held its 6th annual March Madness fundraiser at Nationals Park, highlighting KIPP DC's belief that every one of its students is college-bound and will someday have the chance to cheer for their own college teams during March Madness.

Guests enjoy the batting changes

At this year’s event, more than 300 guests had behind-the-scenes access to Nationals Park, including live batting practice in the Nationals’ batting cages. In addition to an amazing event space and gorgeous weather, participants enjoyed the excitement of the Sweet Sixteen games, a Silent Auction, a raffle, and food and drink. Guests, including Mayor Gray, were able to learn more about the ways in which KIPP DC is working to close the achievement gap. The event raised nearly $200,000 and celebrated KIPP DC’s 10 years of success.

Latin American Youth Center Hires New Development Officer

Thanks to Araceli Curiel Rosenberger, Communications Specialist/ Grant Writer, for this update.

The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) has named Elliott Gaskins as its new Chief Development Officer. Mr. Gaskins, who had been Vice President of Resource Development at America’s Promise Alliance, will be responsible for the design and implementation of LAYC’s comprehensive fundraising strategies in accordance with community needs and LAYC's strategic priorities.

Elliott Gaskins

“We are thrilled to welcome Elliott Gaskins to LAYC. As our new Chief Development Officer, he brings a wealth of fundraising experience and contacts through his work with corporations, individuals and national foundations over the years,” noted Lori Kaplan, President & CEO of LAYC. “He is very excited about being at an organization that transforms the lives of so many young people in our region. We welcome his passion for youth and his new energy.”

Before joining LAYC, Mr. Gaskins built support for the Grad Nation Campaign, America’s Promise Alliance’s ten-year effort to mobilize the country to end the high school dropout crisis and ensure young people are prepared to succeed in college, work, and life.

He serves on the Board of College and Career Connections and volunteers with Manna House, Mentor’s Inc., Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and many other organizations. He is a member of Leadership Greater Washington, an organization of change agents in the Greater Washington, DC area.

LAYC thanks former Development Director, Linn Shapiro, Ph.D. for nearly eight years of exemplary service. She will continue with LAYC as Development's Lead Writer.

The SEED Foundation Welcomes Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick to Board of Directors

Thanks to Laura O'Connor, Director of Communications, for this update. , for this update.

The SEED Foundation recently appointed Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick as a member of its board of directors.

Dr. Grasmick was Maryland’s first female state superintendent and the U.S.’s longest serving appointed schools chief. Known for her strong focus on student achievement, teacher quality, parent involvement, public school funding, and early childhood education, Dr. Grasmick served as Maryland State Superintendent of Schools until June 2011. Many of the pioneering policies enacted over Dr. Grasmick’s tenure—instituting an explicit pre-K–12 curriculum; developing statewide assessments and holding schools and school systems accountable for their results; disaggregating performance data by race, poverty, disability, and English fluency—have become commonplace in American classrooms.

Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick

Dr. Grasmick is a Towson University Presidential Scholar for Innovation in Teacher and Leader Education. Her career in education began as a teacher of deaf children at the William S. Baer School in Baltimore City. She subsequently served as a classroom and resource teacher, principal, supervisor, assistant superintendent, and associate superintendent in the Baltimore County Public Schools. In 1989, Governor William Donald Schaefer appointed her Special Secretary for Children, Youth, and Families and, in 1991, the Maryland State Board of Education appointed her State Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Grasmick received her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University, her master’s degree from Gallaudet University, and her bachelor’s degree from Towson University.

Urban Alliance – Deloitte Partnership Leads to Success for District Youth

Thanks to Sean Segal, Chief of Staff, for this update.

Urban Alliance Alumni Services works to connect program alumni with networking opportunities to help lead them to successful careers. Recently, through Urban Alliance’s ongoing partnership with Deloitte, it saw a wonderful example of program success.

James Yarborough, an Urban Alliance ‘06 and Babson College ’10 Alumnus, successfully turned an Alumni Services graduate networking event into a career opportunity. After attending the “Winter Networking Soiree,” an Urban Alliance Alumni Services event held in January and hosted by Deloitte, James became extremely interested in a career with Deloitte. Following the event, James emailed the contacts he made and sat down for coffee with an analyst, who provided him with more insight about the firm. Thoroughly impressed with the firm’s reputation and commitment to community service and pro bono work, James checked out the Deloitte career website and researched a wide variety positions in which he had an interest. Under the guidance and mentorship of a Senior Manager at Deloitte, James secured a full-time consultant position with the Enterprise Risk Services group.

Urban Alliance is committed to the success of its alumni, proud of James for his initiative, and thankful to Deloitte for the continued partnership.

Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) is a philanthropic investment organization that helps great leaders build strong, high-performing nonprofit institutions. It concentrates money, expertise, and personal contacts to improve the lives of and boost the opportunities for children and youth of low-income families in the National Capital Region and cultivates a growing donor community of high net worth families to generate funding and influence in support of these institutions and of social change.
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