Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


December 2011

Fri, 2011-12-02

Supporting the Adult in All Students: Tamika Harrison and “KIPP Through College”

Last year, a student that Tamika Harrison had been trying to reach for weeks walked into her office. The student, in her first year at Norfolk State University, was having trouble with her studies and was considering dropping out. Harrison had been trying to reach the student by phone, with little success. It was not until they met in-person that they really connected and Harrison was able to put her back on track.

Without Harrison’s repeated phone calls and persistence, that student might not have come in to her office at all.

“We borderline stalk students,” Harrison said. “We almost need to in order to get them to see that we are a service trying to help them. Just because you left KIPP DC, you haven’t left the KIPP family. We want students to know we care about their success.”

More >>

VPP Community Represented at George Mason Conference on Social Entrepreneurship

Last month, the George Mason University (GMU) Center for Social Entrepreneurship hosted its fourth Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship conference, which featured several members from the VPP community. VPP Chairman Mario Morino participated in a keynote question and answer session with GMU President Alan Merten on “Managing to Outcomes,” which centered on VPP’s recent publication Leap of Reason. Morino was also given the inaugural Social Innovation Champion Award preceding his keynote.

More >>

President's Perspective        DECEMBER 2011

Carol Thompson Cole

Taking on the Challenge to Support our Children

As 2011 draws to a close, I am inclined to step back and reflect on the year behind me and the VPP team. We have had a busy year for many reasons, not in the least because of VPP's recent publication Leap of Reason, a book on helping nonprofits manage to outcomes, written by our Chairman and co-founder Mario Morino. Mario (as those of you who read his column know) has been all over the country speaking about Leap of Reason, but we at VPP have had few chances to link our work to the book in a public setting.

This fall, I was invited to speak to the annual meeting of the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools about this very subject. In preparing for the speech, I had the opportunity to reflect on my own personal story and how I got to be the leader I am today. In the spirit of one year ending and another beginning, I thought I would share parts of my speech and my story with you to help us all reflect on how we as a community can better serve the children and youth of our region.

More >>


Supporting the Adult in All Students: Tamika Harrison and “KIPP Through College”

Last year, a student that Tamika Harrison had been trying to reach for weeks walked into her office. The student, in her first year at Norfolk State University, was having trouble with her studies and was considering dropping out. Harrison had been trying to reach the student by phone, with little success. It was not until they met in-person that they really connected and Harrison was able to put her back on track.

Tamika Harrison
Tamika Harrison

Without Harrison’s repeated phone calls and persistence, that student might not have come in to her office at all.

“We borderline stalk students,” Harrison said. “We almost need to in order to get them to see that we are a service trying to help them. Just because you left KIPP DC, you haven’t left the KIPP family. We want students to know we care about their success.”

Tamika Harrison is a College Support Advisor for KIPP DC’s KIPP Through College (KTC) program. She is part of a team that supports KIPP students after they leave the KIPP DC schools.

Harrison had a career in higher education prior to joining KTC, which is funded in part through VPP’s youthCONNECT initiative. She worked in admissions, student support services, and as a residence hall director, at her alma mater, Salem State University, and other colleges in the Northeast. After over a decade in higher ed, she decided to make a change. When the KIPP DC job came up, it caught her eye.

“Before I applied for the position, I did not know a lot about KIPP,” she said. “What really attracted me to the organization was that it followed alumni beyond the time they were in school. I thought, ‘I have never heard of an organization doing this. How amazing is that?’”

Even with her successful career, she looks at her own path to and through college and draws upon the lessons learned from the obstacles she faced. This helps her connect with her clients.

“I was not a stellar student when I was in school,” she said. “I know what it means to be on academic probation. Here I am now, with a Master’s degree, and, God willing, in the next year I will be starting a PhD program. I represent a student population that struggles through school… I think of my story and think of these students and see a little bit of me in them. Because I know the potential that’s in there -- how dare I give up on any of them?”

KIPP DC launched their KTC program in 2005 when the first class of KIPP DC middle school students received support to transition to high school. As the number of KIPP DC alumni grew, what was once a small office became a 10 person team, offering services that span from 8th grade through the students’ senior year of college and career support. The staff provides a wide range of services, from working with families to helping with financial aid to finding internships for the students in the summer months.

“We have an amazing team in our office of dedicated people who are really into working with the students,” said Harrison. “We all have our unique approach, but at the end of the day, it’s really about helping the student and the parents.”

Alumni from the KIPP DC charter school network

The KTC program is not limited to DC. There are 31 KTC programs in KIPP networks across the nation.

KIPP DC recently opened its high school in 2004, and many students supported by KTC staff are not in college, but are instead in non-KIPP DC secondary schools. The high school team serves 320 students at over 70 different high schools within the District as well as neighboring counties. Harrison has a case load of about 50 students, with about 150 students being served by the college team. Of those 150, 130 are enrolled in college. The program starts connecting with students in the 8th grade, unless they stay in the KIPP DC network for high school by attending KIPP DC: College Preparatory. All graduates of KIPP DC middle and high schools have access to KTC program offerings.

Within youthCONNECT, VPP is funding a rigorous evaluation plan for the KTC program. This plan will measure the impact on the academic achievement of KTC participants and their success in post-secondary education.

Harrison and the others on the KTC team have learned that a successful relationship with a student means treating them as an equal. A goal of the program is encouraging students to be independent and to take initiative, and KTC counselors interact with their clients with that in mind.

“We [in this field] tend to refer to them as kids, but we want them to be young adults. If you are referring to them as kids, you can’t expect them to translate that into thinking ‘Oh, she is treating me like an adult…’ I try to stay away from doing things for them. I try to help them do for themselves.”

After that initial face to face meeting, the Norfolk student continued with her studies. A sophomore now, she maintains contact with the KTC staff for support and to stay in touch.

“We are extremely proud of her,” said Harrison. “She has not yet reached her full potential, but she is getting there.”

The most recent request from that student showed the variety of problems the KTC staff tackle. It wasn’t about covering the cost of tuition, or academic help. Instead, it was something that we all can relate to, no matter our background:

Roommate issues.

VPP Community Represented at George Mason Conference on Social Entrepreneurship

Morino and Merten
Mario Morino and Alan Merten

Last month, the George Mason University (GMU) Center for Social Entrepreneurship hosted its fourth Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship conference, which featured several members from the VPP community. VPP Chairman Mario Morino participated in a keynote question and answer session with GMU President Alan Merten on “Managing to Outcomes,” which centered on VPP’s recent publication Leap of Reason. Morino was also given the inaugural Social Innovation Champion Award preceding his keynote.

Warner and SHore
Senator Warner and Bill Shore

VPP Co-Founder and Investor US Senator Mark Warner opened the day-long event with a plenary alongside VPP Honorary Board Member Bill Shore. They discussed “Opportunity from Austerity” and touched on a number of subjects, including the government’s role in social entrepreneurship and social change. The day concluded with a conversation between Director of the Social Innovation Fund Paul Carttar and entrepreneur Terry McAuliffe. VPP is a member of the inaugural portfolio of the Social Innovation Fund.

For more information about the event and to view pictures and video, visit:

VPP Hosts Forum Discussion with youthCONNECT Network Partners

Partners at Forum
The network partners at the Investor Forum

(Please click on the links throughout the article to view videos from the event.)

Last month, VPP hosted a forum that brought together partners at all levels of the youthCONNECT initiative for an energized two-hour discussion about the progress and challenges of this collective approach to change young lives in the National Capital Region (NCR). Introduced by Jonathan Greenblatt of the White House Office on Social Innovation, and moderated by Sheldon Caplis of Citi—one of youthCONNECT’s match funders—the panel discussion featured representatives from each of the six high-performing nonprofits that make up youthCONNECT.

Topics discussed ranged from the state of low-income youth in the region to the benefits of collaborative partnerships to the role of the federal government in community solutions. The nonprofit partners thanked the VPP investors and donors for the ability to be a part of youthCONNECT and the Social Innovation Fund and recognized VPP’s leadership for creating this initiative in the region.

Much was said about the need for a vision to help youth in this region. Many participants stated that up until this point, work to improve the lives of and outcomes for youth in the NCR had been done in silos, with limited success. Now that youthCONNECT has brought a collaborative approach to this work and VPP has developed true partnerships with the nonprofits involved, youth are at the center of the work being done. Several of the panelists stated that they believe the number of youth being affected through youthCONNECT will not be limited to those directly touched by the six nonprofit network partners, but thousands more will benefit over time because of the systems-change work the network has undertaken.

Individual impact was also discussed alongside long-term impact. After less than a year of convening the youthCONNECT network, direct results are being realized. Shana Payne and Lori Kaplan, of College Summit- NCR and Latin American Youth Center, respectively, shared stories of youth who have already been affected by the network.

The evening ended with brief remarks by VPP’s Chairman Mario Morino, who thanked all for attending and participating in a unique and inspiring dialogue, and noted that something like youthCONNECT was not possible even a dozen years ago. After the event ended, participants and audience members mingled to reflect on what was discussed. Attendees agreed: as the region continues to change, the youthCONNECT network has the potential to lead the way in solving some of the most intractable problems faced by youth each day in our region.

To view more video clips of the event, please visit VPP’s YouTube page.

Brookings Report Highlights the Growth of Suburban Poverty

Last summer, the Brookings Institution released a report on the growth of poverty in the suburbs of four major metropolitan areas in the US and how foundations have reacted to these changing demographics.

Using data from local funders in the Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Detroit regions, as well as interviews with practitioners, the report found several key takeaways from philanthropy’s involvement in suburban poverty. Most of the community foundations in the suburban areas are smaller and newer, and do not give out enough grants compared to their urban counterparts proportional to the poverty levels in the areas they served. Additionally, the report highlighted the need for capacity building in suburban social service nonprofits, but noted that most suburban funders are not providing this necessary support.

Read the full report on the Brookings website.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Launches “Partner.HUD.Gov”

To connect its grantees with the philanthropic community, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development recently launched its Partner.HUD.Gov. The goal of the site is to connect foundations and major philanthropic actors to recipients of its Choice Neighborhood grants, which focus on transforming distressed neighborhoods into mixed-income communities by building the communities’ infrastructure.

The site not only provides information on the winners of the Choice Neighborhood grants, but also runners-up with strong potential for implementation. The site hopes to leverage resources of the philanthropic sector so each community featured on the site can generate enough resources to operate at full capacity.

To learn more, visit Partner.HUD.Gov.


AALEAD’s Boston Girls Trip Teaches its Students the Importance of Female Empowerment

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

AALEADFrom November 4-6th, female students from AALEAD’s High School programs attended the 3rd Annual Boston Girls Trip, where they attended the Asian American Women’s Leadership ASPIRE conference, visited Boston and Harvard Universities, and toured the Boston metropolitan area.

AALEAD students and new friends at the ASPIRE conference

Students had the opportunity to experience a variety of unique workshops at the conference. Several students attended the Asian American Women in the Arts workshop where they were able to express and represent themselves through art. Other workshops included the Asian American Women Scholars-Activists Unite, Life Balance, and Asian American Girls and Women Ethnic and Racial Identity Development. One student said, “My favorite workshop was the art workshop. I enjoy expressing myself through art, but I’ve never had the chance to share it with others. It was fun and interesting to learn that my passion could become my career in the future.”

Students were also able to network with other high school girls from the ASPIRE young leadership program, as well as young professionals, professors, college students, and other successful Asian American women. Another highlight of the conference was spending time with Genki Spark, an all-women taiko drum crew, and receiving autographs from Asian American singer Sophia Moon. After this interaction with Asian female leaders and students like themselves, AALEAD students said that they felt inspired to teach their peers about the lessons they learned during the conference.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Unveils New Traveling “Artmobile”

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

As areas schools and organizations continue to reduce, and even eliminate, arts programs and activities, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) has broadened its cultural arts initiative by unveiling its new “Artmobile” at the Women’s Leadership Group’s ICON 11 Dinner & Talent Showcase Benefit Gala last October.

Boys & Girls Clubs volunteers and staff members celebrate the new Artmobile (Daniel Steinkoler of Superior Home Services, Inc., Barbara Hawthorne, Patty Andringa of the Women’s Leadership Group and Tony Small, BGCGW Artistic Director)

Through the support of the Friess Family Foundation and Superior Home Services, Inc., the newly retrofitted art studio on wheels will travel across the National Capital Region to bring visual arts instruction, activities and opportunities for creativity and imagination for kids and communities that need us the most.

Launched in 2003, BGCGW’s ICON Talent Showcase program inspires, motivates and builds the self-esteem and confidence of its members while providing an opportunity to develop and showcase their many hidden gifts and talents.

With over 300 guests at this year’s annual benefit gala, youth presented a unique piano accompaniment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech, an original hip-hop and mine dance fusion, and rousing vocal and instrument performances.

Child and Family Youth Centers Distribute Thanksgiving Dinners

Thanks to Manager of Development Anna Berke for this update.

CFNC Dec11
CFNC staff and volunteers distribute dinners to families

For the fourteenth year in a row, Westminster Presbyterian Church and McLean Bible Church donated more than 100 Thanksgiving dinners to families served by The Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC). On Saturday, November 19th beginning at noon, CFNC distributed the Thanksgiving dinner boxes at their Birchmere location on Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria. The boxes included a 15 lb turkey, 5 lb bag of potatoes, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, and brownies,. CFNC staff and dozens of community members volunteered their time to deliver unload and distribute the meals, allowing CFNC families, some of Northern Virginia’s neediest, to enjoy a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving.

To read more about the event and see photos, visit the Alexandria Gazette Packet.

College Summit Releases White Paper on Postsecondary Data

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

CS Dec11
College Summit founder JB Schramm at the event

The national branch of College Summit and the Data Quality Campaign (DQC), a national effort to improve availability of educational data, co-hosted an event in October to discuss the demand for postsecondary data and the progress states have made. Participants included US Senator Michael Bennet, Representative Duncan Hunter, and a panel of local and state experts. As part of the event, College Summit released a white paper “Seizing the Measurement Moment: Why Now is the Time for States to Help High Schools Get the Postsecondary Data They Need and Want,” detailing the local demand for postsecondary data and analysis, which included profiles on local community efforts. The paper reports the progress each state has made in getting data into the hands of parents, educators, and policymakers and makes recommendations for all states to ensure they are aligned and making progress on their college and career-ready goals. The paper was made possible through generous support from Deloitte.

View the event webcast, read the white paper, and read related articles here.

Big Plans for Bundy Fields

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


KIPP DC has committed to investing in more than students, families, and great teachers. At all three campuses, KIPP DC has renovated facilities and invested in community projects that support the safety and beautification of the surrounding neighborhoods. KIPP DC’s Shaw Campus currently houses: Grow Academy, an early childhood school; WILL Academy, a middle school; and will soon house Lead Academy, an elementary school. This campus has always needed one thing: a field on which students could play and teams could practice.

KIPP Dec11
The proposed field site

With the support of local officials and the surrounding community, KIPP DC secured a lease for the Bundy Athletic Field across the street from the Shaw Campus. Through a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Foundation, KIPP DC will be able to renovate the field using turf to create a multi-purpose field for soccer, lacrosse, baseball, softball, and more.

Sam Zivin, a teacher at WILL Academy and the coach of their soccer team, is particularly excited about the renovation: “I am thrilled that my students will have the opportunity to both train and play on their own home turf. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve as a team.” The U.S. Soccer Foundation will also be leading soccer coaching lessons for both KIPP DC students and neighborhood children.

The Convention Center Community Association (CCCA) and the Shaw community have embraced the renovation project with enthusiasm. Martin Moulton, President of the CCCA, explained: “Children and adults in the Shaw neighborhood will finally have access to a world-class field and facility that will become a community anchor and source of pride.”

KIPP DC hopes to complete the renovation by Spring 2012 and will be using and sharing this turf field for years to come.

To learn more about how you can support the renovation of Bundy Athletic Fields, contact Rachel Wandell at KIPP DC.

Latin American Youth Center Raises Funds for Homeless Youth in the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon

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

Over 1,500 supporters registered to walk with LAYC on the National Mall, November 19th, raising over $17,000 for LAYC’s housing programs. LAYC also expects additional funds from the Fannie Mae Foundation for reaching 1,500 registered walkers.

LAYC Dec11
LAYC staff and volunteers at the homelessness walk

LAYC offers numerous services to homeless and runaway youth, including street outreach and survival kits, emergency and transitional housing, and supplemental programs that connect youth to education, workforce, and counseling services among others.

Executive Director Lori Kaplan will meet with DC Mayor Vincent Gray on December 5th to discuss the need for hundreds of new affordable housing units and employment opportunities, and funding for homeless services for youth in the District.

A Bountiful Harvest at Mary’s Center this Thanksgiving

Thanks to Lyda Vanegas, Director of Advocacy and Communications, for this update.

Mary's Center

This year, Mary’s Center was pleased to provide over 260 Thanksgiving meals to clients identified by its program staff.

Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary’s Center, expressed her gratitude for the incredible outpouring of support this year: “Despite the tough economy, we were able to collect plenty of food thanks to the generosity of our friends. The response to our call to action was exciting to witness.”

MC Den11
Volunteers packing the Thanksgiving dinners

Turkeys were donated by NBC4, the DC Fire Department, Poor Robert’s Charities, and El Toro Supermarket. Mary’s Center staff and supporters donated canned green beans and corn, rice, beans, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes to fill out the meal. On Sunday, November 20th, over fifty volunteers and staff gathered to assemble the Thanksgiving baskets.

With the winter holidays just around the corner, Mary’s Center has now begun preparing for its annual Toy Drive.

The SEED Foundation Welcomes Tia Diaz-Balart as the SEED South Florida Director

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

The SEED Foundation appointed Tia Diaz-Balart of Miami, Florida as its South Florida Director. Tia is responsible for leading and managing plans to open a SEED school—an urban, college-prep, public boarding school—in Miami-Dade County, which will be modeled after The SEED School of Washington, D.C. and The SEED School of Maryland.

SEED Dec11
Tia Diaz-Balart

“SEED is thrilled to have Tia on-board,” said Cheye Calvo, chief expansion officer with The SEED Foundation. “As an active community member and entrepreneur, we’re confident in Tia’s ability to lead the charge in bringing a college-prep, public boarding school to South Florida.”

Tia is also the founder of the EcoChamber, the first and only global green chamber of commerce. Previously, Tia was a vice president at rbb Public Relations, the national marketing manager at Hewlett-Packard’s USA operations, and director at GDB Miami. Tia’s other prior positions include finance director for a Florida Secretary of State Election campaign and the corporate coordinator for the Hemispheric Summit of the Americas hosted by the White House. Tia resides in Miami, Florida with her husband, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, and their young son.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us to open a school in South Florida, but I’m excited to bring a public boarding school to the community,” said Tia Diaz-Balart. “The model has been proven in both Washington, D.C. and Maryland, and it’s a great compliment to our schools to help our most underserved children.”

The SEED Foundation partnered with Miami-based nonprofit Educate Tomorrow 18 months ago. Together, SEED and Educate Tomorrow successfully lobbied to pass legislation that would allow for a public boarding school in Miami-Dade County. As the law was passed this summer, and SEED’s charter application and proposal to serve as the school operator are both under review, SEED is moving forward with plans to open the school in 2013.

Urban Alliance Continues Work Supporting Alumni

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

Over the last few months, Urban Alliance (UA) has increased its focus on an extremely important area – serving program alumni. Urban Alliance’s Alumni Services department features two full-time staff members who focus on both connected and disconnected alumni.

UA Dec11
Robin Vilorio

Connected Urban Alliance alumni are alumni who are either enrolled in college or working. These alumni have services to keep them in school or employed. One new UA program matches alumni in their first year of college with older alumni at the same school to increase college persistence rates. These peer mentors serve as a resource for UA youth that are just beginning their college experience. First year students and their peer mentors meet periodically to discuss how college life is going and to support each other.

Disconnected UA alumni are alumni who have left college and are currently unemployed. Alumni Services works with these youth to find work or enroll in post-secondary education. One youth who benefited from this work is Robin Vilorio:

Robin interned at WilmerHale law firm last year. Working in the records department kept him busy and he began taking on more and more responsibilities. After completing the program, Robin spent the remainder of summer with family in Puerto Rico. He had not enrolled in a college or university and planned to look for full-time work upon his return. Robin met with the Alumni Services department to review his resume before submitting it to an agency that filled temporary positions in law firms. He used his Mentor, and the network he built at WilmerHale, as references and landed a job at Drinker Biddle and Reath, LLP in the records department. Robin is currently working full-time and will meet with Alumni Services in the new year to discuss enrolling in college.

Celebrating Geeks In Style

Thanks to Marlissa Hudson, Manager of External Relations, for this update.

Year Up Logo

On Thursday, November 3rd, Year Up National Capital Region hosted the Geek Gala 2.0 at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC. The celebration brought together nearly 300 attendees to recognize individuals, corporations, and organizations that are committed to advancing Year Up’s mission of closing the Opportunity Divide for low-income young adults. This year’s honorees were Michael Powell of Freddie Mac (which was accepted by Rob Lux) and Viki Betancourt of the World Bank.

YU Dec11
Michael Powell of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Viki Betancourt of the World Bank, and Rob Lux of Freddie Mac

From the first moment attendees entered, celebrating geekiness was encouraged. Highlights of the reception included an area where students demonstrated their IT knowledge, a “Geek Boutique” which provided extra geek attire for attendees, and the opportunity to play the “Michael Jackson Experience” on Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.

The program featured honoree tributes including testimonials by alumni and current students whose lives were touched as a result of the honorees’ involvement, as well as a moving rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by a jazz vocalist and Djembe player. At one point, Year Up-NCR Board Chair John King and staff members performed an “Angry Birds” skit where pigs flew (literally!)

”Our gala highlighted the need to support excellence in technology – and by celebrating “geeks” we are promoting achievement and taking another step toward fulfilling our mission” said Ronda Harris Thompson, Executive Director of Year Up National Capital Region.

The sponsors for the gala included the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and John and Susie King. Other major sponsors included Capital One, Bruce and Lori Rosenblum, Freddie Mac, Pepco, Acumen Solutions, and CGI Federal.

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.
Subscriber Tools



Investment Portfolio Investors Impact Learning About Us
Copyright 2011© Venture Philanthropy Partners