"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
From the chill in the air to families around the table, November is rich with reminders to give thanks. We are grateful for our generous investors and donors, our program partners as they constantly strive for more, and the youth and families supporting each other and their ambitions to thrive.
VPP President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole reflects on the dedicated people and organizations that inspire her work serving the city she loves.
Read her note here.
VPP Chairman Mario Morino delves into the potential power of E-learning and how it could become a powerful tool for leaders in all sectors.
Read about his recent research here.
This month, we've been reading The Generosity Network, a new book that brings a thoughtful perspective on the relational aspect of philanthropy. Our investor development team takes a look:
There has been no shortage of books on nonprofit fundraising in recent years, with many of them covering similar strategies, for instance the importance of stewardship and when to make "the ask." The Generosity Network: New Transformational Tools for Successful Fund-raising, by Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker, is a valuable contribution to the prolific field for how it steps back and frames the discussion. They view fund-raising not as a transactional relationship between donors and nonprofits, but as a tool for creating deep, trusting relationships between nonprofits and anyone who wants to rally behind their cause.
It is apparent from the foreword, which is written by Deepak Chopra, that this isn’t just another fundraising book – indeed, on page three he discusses what is at the heart of McCrea and Walker’s thinking: evolutionary consciousness, which is the idea that in order to improve the world, “humankind must experience a new kind of evolution—not physical evolution but evolution of the mind, soul, and spirit.” Keeping this framework in mind, McCrea and Walker then take us on a journey that starts with knowing yourself, especially around the topic of money, and moves on to taking the fear out of fund-raising, mastering your narrative, finding champions for your cause with similar worldviews, and eventually best practices for developing strong relationships with prospects and donors, including event ideas such as the Jeffersonian Dinner.
One of The Generosity Network’s strongest features is its accessibility. Fund-raisers, board members, executive directors, and nonprofit staff can all benefit from thinking about and discussing the various topics it addresses. The book facilitates group discussions with “food for thought” pages at the end of each chapter. This book can be a useful new tool to help nonprofits and philanthropists think about and advance their work using a fresh approach to fund-raising.
Dr. Rustin Lewis will be the new Executive Director for College Summit National Capital Region. He will join the team on December 9, 2013.
Most recently, Rustin led the D.C. Department of Youth and Rehabilitative Services’ Division of Workforce Development for court-involved youth. After serving as CEO of College Bound, Inc. and President of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, Inc., he founded RML Consulting Group, Inc. to provide expert guidance to nonprofits in the areas of organizational, program and resource development. He has served as an advisor to several nonprofit groups, managed diverse programs, conducted fundraising events, garnered resources, and supported governing boards. Rustin is also an external advisor to PRISM Global Management Group in their Non-Profit Business Division.
youthCONNECT partners are leveraging their collective clout to advocate for better transportation access for youth in the National Capital Region.
youthCONNECT was invited to speak at the Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board meeting last month to advocate for more accessible and affordable transportation options for youth in the National Capital Region.
“I am reminded of a young man Urban Alliance served,” said Nathaniel Cole, associate executive director at Urban Alliance. “Derek caught three busses to attend our Monday-through-Thursday pre-work trainings for a month. Four days a week, three buses a day, 2 hours round trip travel, within the parameters of one city. There has to be a better way.”
Derek is not an isolated case. Nathaniel spoke on behalf of the youthCONNECT network to share how lack of access to effective, affordable transportation is keeping many low-income youth from school, jobs and internships.
Students in the youthCONNECT network spend an average of $110 per month on public transit, and the problem is especially acute for young adults who travel across the region for internships. Those same youth often do not utilize subsidies available to them because they are complicated to obtain and eligibility criteria can vary.
In the public comment, youthCONNECT suggested three action items for the Board to consider:
The Planning Board is currently reviewing all public comments on a draft of the Regional Transportation Priorities Plan for the National Capital Region. The plan will ultimately highlight funding priorities for state and municipal implementation.
youthCONNECT’s focus on transportation came early on in the organizations’ partnership, recognizing that transportation was a hindrance for each of them when it came to best serving their youth populations. The ongoing conversation with the Transportation Planning Board came out of this collaborative work.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
At VPP that philosophy is at the heart of our youthCONNECT initiative, in which six of the most effective local nonprofits are working together to improve education, employment, and healthy behavior outcomes for low-income and disconnected youth, ages 14-24, in the National Capital Region.
Collaboration is never simple, even among the best-intentioned people. And increasingly groups want data to prove that it’s worth the time and effort. The call for evidence in the nonprofit sector has been growing increasingly louder in recent years. But good data doesn’t come cheaply–it takes time and effort to collect, compile and analyze information. Having the data is just the beginning. If you don’t know what to do with it then you have wasted your investment.
youthCONNECT has provided VPP with many valuable lessons on collaboration. Once we selected the nonprofits that comprise the network, we deliberately stepped back to allow them to take ownership of the initiative. These leaders have their finger on the pulse of what is going on with disadvantaged youth in this region. Who better to decide the direction youthCONNECT should take?
A network won’t be effective if trust does not exist between members and trusting relationships aren’t forged overnight. And it’s important to recognize that this network did not form organically, but was created by VPP. Recognizing this, VPP allowed space for the partners to get to know each other and build trust naturally, over time.
There aren’t standard short term outcomes measures for trusted relationships. They can take years to build. We continue to see ‘signs’ of trust through greater organizational and programmatic interactions between the youthCONNECT partners, but it will take years to really know if it sticks.
Another key part of the youthCONNECT process was the development of the Common Outcomes Framework (COF), a shared tool of measurement in which the six yC Partners, all of whom have very different missions and goals, are driving towards specific indicators that are relevant to their programs. This was no easy task, requiring 18 months of hard work among the Evaluation Directors from each yC Partner, myself, and Child Trends, our evaluation partner.
The development of this framework is a great example of the type of work that must come if we are to collect that data everyone wants so badly. Yet few funders are interested in paying for this type of work or are patient enough to let the process take hold.
Whatever information a funder or nonprofit leader seeks, resources must be deployed strategically to support the infrastructure for collecting that data. As with most things in life, with data collection you get what you pay for. Nonprofits and funders need to recognize this and put their money where their mouth is.
- Ayo Atterberry, VPP Director of Outcomes, Assessment and Learning
This article was first published in full at MarketsforGood.org
Mary's Center reflects on the challenges it faces serving patients who struggle to read.
“The barrier between caregivers and patients who can’t read, write or speak is a ‘huge problem, every day,’” says Alis Marachelian, head of the health education program at Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care.
Low literacy often means low-end employment, higher risk for crime and, as Alis’ experience confirms, potentially poorer healthcare. Mary’s Center is one example of the challenges high school dropouts experience in Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza, a WAMU 88.5 documentary series on poor and disenfranchised Americans. From illiteracy to homelessness to hunger, the series seeks to shed light on the challenges of individuals and communities that are invisible to many.
At the clinic and social service center Mary’s Center, a former VPP Investment Partner, nurses have a significantly more challenging time accurately diagnosing and prescribing medications when it comes to illiterate or non-English speaking caregivers and patients. For example, patients might not understand diagnoses or follow what they’re asked to do.
“For some common conditions such as diabetes, the least compliant patients are the ones with low literacy. It’s not that they’re resisting medication; they just don’t know how to measure the amount of insulin or understand the potentially fatal consequences of a wrong dose.”
Low literacy is a systemic problem. Mary’s Center has implemented color coding and illustrations to overcome some of the immediate challenges low English literacy and numerical literacy causes for its patients, but support and solutions require participation and investment across sectors.
At least 6,720 young people in DC—7% of the total population of 12-24 year olds—are neither in school nor working. What needs to change?
At least 6,720 young people in DC are neither in school nor working, and the number is likely higher. A recent report from DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) and the Raise DC Disconnected Youth Change Network seeks to understand what DC businesses, elected officials, parents and youth themselves can do to promote their reentry into school or the workforce.
DCAYA makes six recommendations based on key findings from a survey and a series of focus groups with youth who “were at least marginally reconnected” to a school or community organization.
DCAYA’s members include VPP current and former investment partners Asian American LEAD, CentroNìa, Latin American Youth Center, Mary’s Center, Metro TeenAIDS, Urban Alliance, and See Forever.
Read the full report here.
VPP charter-school investment partners are showing improving or sustained success in the DC Charter School Board's measurements.
The DC Charter School Board announced the results of the 2013 Performance Management Framework, an evaluation tool designed to monitor charter schools, and VPP investment partners stood out for their successful performance.
Current and former investment partners KIPP DC, Friendship Public Charter School, and the SEED Charter School all attained Tier 1 status, the highest performing rank. All of KIPP DC’s eligible schools were rated as Tier 1 for the third year in a row, and KIPP DC’s KEY Academy achieved the highest rating of any DC public charter school, earning 91% on the framework.
"The Performance Management Framework that has been put together by the DC Public Charter School Board is a tremendous quality assurance tool and feedback tool," said Washington, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray. "We want to see every one of our schools reach the highest level of quality."
Posse DC Recognizes Michele V. Hagans’ Commitment to the Region
VPP board member and investor Michele V. Hagans was honored this October with the 2013 Power of 10 award from Posse DC. Michele is President and CEO of Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, which developed a 360-acre community in Northeast DC. She was recognized for her deep involvement in civic and community organizations in the National Capital Region.
Posse DC, a college access and youth leadership development program, hosted the event. The national Posse Foundation identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential that may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse Scholars join supportive “posses” of 10 students and receive four-year, full tuition leadership scholarships from the Foundation’s partner colleges and universities.
Michele also received the Economic Impact award from the DC Chamber of Commerce at the 2013 Chamber's Choice Honorees event in October. The award recognized her work to complete the Fort Lincoln Urban Renewal Area, which is bringing an estimated 1,700 new jobs and more than $22 million in new tax revenue to DC.
Artis Hampshire-Cowan Recognized for Commitment to Youth
The National Bar Association awarded VPP honorary board member Artis Hampshire-Cowan with the Wiley Branton Award this October in recognition of her commitment to the National Capital Region’s youth and under-served citizens. As senior vice president and secretary of Howard University, Artis leads the university’s development of the North Research Campus.
“Staunchly committed to children, education, the under-served and the future of the Washington metropolitan region,” the National Bar Association recognized Artis’ service to Howard University as part of her dedication to local education throughout her career.
Artis has been a part of organizations such as Prince George’s Country, Maryland Business Advisory Committee, promoting the county’s education agenda; the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County; the Washington Metropolitan area Teach for America board; and the Girl Scouts Advisory Council, among others.
The Wiley A. Branton award is presented by the National Bar Association “to persons demonstrating leadership on the cutting edge of law for civil, social and economic justice.” The National Bar Association is the nation's oldest and largest association of African American lawyers and judges.
VPP honorary board members Terri Lee Freeman, president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, and Julie L. Rogers, president of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation were honored by the Washingtonian as two of DC’s “Most Powerful Women” of 2013.
In response to September’s shootings at the Navy Yard, Terri and her team launched two new funds, the Navy Yard Relief Fund and the Safer Communities Fund to support victims and survivors as well as prevent gun violence. Julie will finish her 28-year tenure at the Meyer Foundation next June, during which the Foundation has dispensed more than $153 million in grants to nonprofits in the National Capital Region.
The Washingtonian also recognized Terri as a Washingtonian of the Year in 2002 in response to her work at the Community Foundation and the founding of the Survivors’ Fund after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The full list of women is available here and in the November 2013 print edition of the Washingtonian.
Fight Night Raises $4 Million to Benefit Fight for Children
Raul lauded the creativity and passion of the Fight Night board chair, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, and late Fight for Children founder and VPP investor Joe Robert in making the evening a success.
“It’s about creativity and passion,” said Raul. “That’s the one thing that [Kevin and Joe] and all have – passion for kids, education and health. The biggest thing we can do to honor Joe is to keep growing this and to keep reimagining it.”
Fight for Children seeks to ensure low-income children in DC receive a great education and stay healthy so they can learn.
Leap of Reason now has its own, brand-new site! Check it out at LeapofReason.org.
Several nonprofits in the DC region, the Latin American Youth Center among them, are turning to the charter school model to offer a tenable solution to serving youth and adults.
DC Chancellor Kaya Henderson gave an optimistic "State of the DC Public Schools" address this October. Did you know? A record 44% of the city's public school students are enrolled in charter schools in DC.
The National Capital Region is now a "majority minority" region, according to a new analysis of Census data.
The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success is a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Kids Count that delves into the state and the needs of early childhood development in America.
A recent report from Monitor Institute looks into the emerging technological tools that are helping facilitate collaborative work like youthCONNECT.
|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