VPP President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole writes about how the coming retirement crisis and the changing expectations of the middle class are putting new pressures on youth seeking to escape poverty.
In the two years since VPP launched youthCONNECT, the network is already serving 10,000 additional youth on their path to successful adulthood while hitting some important milestones, including the development of a Common Outcomes Framework, which some have described as “historic.” But the road to this success has not always been simple or easy.
We sat down with VPP's lead partner on the initiative, Marc Schindler, to learn more about the process of developing the network, as well as the potential of other similar collaborations.
Why did VPP create youthCONNECT?
Every day young people and their families are climbing up a very steep hill with lots of obstacles and barriers. In VPP’s first fund we equipped organizations to become better able to help young people climb up that very steep hill. But nothing happened to make the hill any less hard to climb or less steep.
What has been the success of youthCONNECT thus far?
Additionally, we have put a lot of time and capital into rigorously evaluating the programs in youthCONNECT. We expect the organizations will learn a great deal from these evaluations and use them to make their programs even stronger. The evaluations will also allow the organizations to demonstrate the positive impact they are having which will support their efforts to further grow.
Those represent some pretty significant achievements, but we see them as the starting point. Our ultimate goal is to achieve real systems change and so we invited the organizations to come to the table and challenged them to explore how they could be more impactful collectively than they could be individually.
Why is collaboration so important?
No single funder or organization or sector is going to solve these intractable problems. If you get nonprofits, philanthropy, government and the business community working together, now you've got a shot. If we are all pushing in the same direction, taking the best from each sector, challenging ourselves, coordinating our efforts and have an effective “backbone” organization like VPP supporting the work, then I think we have a chance at getting at these challenges.
How do you deal with the challenges that go along with forming a network like youthCONNECT?
To achieve results, you also need solid financial support, logistical support, and high performing organizations. You can't do this type of collaboration effectively if the individual organizations don't have the vision and capacity to think beyond their respective missions to a bigger vision of what can be achieved.
One of the lessons we learned in forming the network is that the work needs to be distributed at all levels of the organization—not just among top leadership. Team members at all levels need to buy in to the strategy. We also learned the value of open communication. The opportunities we provided for one-on-one conversations among the executive directors and the VPP team allowed for more candid feedback.
How do you get organizations to commit to a collaborative approach?
It’s important for funders and others not to view the organizations' self-interest as a negative. You want to create a space where organizations are free to say this is in my self-interest, or this is what I think we should do, and there's something I'm going to get out of it. That also means they are more likely to take ownership of the project and drive it.
What's one example of a system-level problem the network is considering tackling?
How did you decide on the outcomes?
That's the kind of work we all need to do to better support our young people.
Urban Alliance's expansion was featured in the latest issue of Washington Business Journal.
Last month, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) released its first investment report, which covered the start of the Fund in 2010 up until 2012.
Among the results from the first two years include:
Through our youthCONNECT initiative, VPP is an inaugural member of the SIF, and network partner the Latin American Youth Center, is featured in the report.
Read the full report. [pdf]
Fight For Children has named the DC Bilingual Public Charter school, founded by VPP investment partner CentroNía, a winner of the 2013 Quality Schools Initiative.
Chaired by VPP co-founder and investor Raul Fernandez, and founded by another VPP investor, the late Joe Robert, Fight For Children awarded DC Bilingual the prize because of its work to improve student achievement for low-income kids. The school, along with fellow winner, Columbia Heights Education Campus, will receive $100,000 to implement a three-year strategy to expand programs to continue improving student proficiency with the goal of being two of the highest performing public schools within three years.
For more information, read Fight For Children's latest newsletter.
KIPP DC’s growth continues with the opening of two new schools this summer in Northeast DC serving pre-K and Kindergarten students.
Connect Academy and Spring Academy will both be located at KIPP's new Webb Campus in Ward 5, formerly the site of DC’s Webb Elementary School. The campus will open with 300 students, but eventually grow to serve 1,100 children from PreK through 8th grade. The founding principals of the Webb Campus, Donny Tiengtum and Lindsey Hoy, are both former KIPP DC LEAP Academy teachers who were selected for KIPP's prestigious Fisher Fellows program where they were trained to open new KIPP schools.
“With thousands of students on our waiting lists, we are thrilled to open the doors to our new Webb Campus so that we can serve an additional 1,100 students,” said KIPP DC Founder and CEO Susan Schaeffler. “We are eager to build relationships with the Ward 5 community and to provide students with access to the high-quality seats that they deserve.”
On May 2nd, LAYC celebrated 45 years of service in the community with over 400 supporters, staff, distinguished alumni, and elected officials, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The event raised over $450,000 and featured a VIP reception hosted by Capital One Bank, silent and live auctions, an exciting program featuring LAYC alumni, and an after-party that included dancing, salsa lessons, and a festive 45th anniversary cake. NBC4 reporter and anchor Erika Gonzalez emceed the program.
Special guests included: CareFirst President and CEO Chet Burrell, Capital One Financial Treasurer Steve Linehan, Maryland Senator Victor Ramirez, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilman David Grosso, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.
Child and Family Network Center's Mothers Group sold jewelry and hosted raffles to raise money to donate to the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation… College Summit honored two high school seniors for supporting their peers on the path to higher education with its annual Peer Leadership Award ceremony… Urban Alliance raised over $21,000 as a part of Spring2Action: a one-day, online fundraising competition. The funds will support an Alexandria youth, who will receive a 10-month paid internship, and one-on-one mentoring.
|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.|
|Copyright 2013© Venture Philanthropy Partners|