Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


March 2015

Thu, 2015-03-26

“VPP’s investment took us from scrappy to strategic. Every dollar that was invested was planned for and utilized so effectively that it had a huge outcome for the students we serve.”
- Susan Schaeffler, KIPP DC Founder and CEO

From Carol’s Desk: Empowering Women and Girls in the NCR

More and more, when I’m speaking with our partners or asked to give speeches for VPP, people are asking me about what VPP is doing for girls and young women. It’s a subject that I’m happy to talk about – both because I’m so proud of our work, and also because the issue matters to me so much personally.

Earlier this month, I had the honor to speak at the Ideagen Quarterly Summit at the United Nations, where I met dozens of innovative and dedicated leaders from around the world. At the event, Ideagen named Venture Philanthropy Partners to its 2015 Impact 100 list – a group of inspiring people and organizations that empower women and girls through their leadership and mission.

My experience at the Summit reminded me why I am extremely proud to be part of the work VPP and our partners are doing every day to help improve the lives of low-income youth across our region. Having worked in government at both the city and federal level, and in my current role at VPP, I know personally and professionally how important it is for women to lead the charge to make things better – because that’s how change really happens.

Read more about VPP's commitment to empowering women and girls in this column from VPP president and CEO Carol Thompson Cole.


Expanding Education Opportunities for Youth

Between 2010-2014, VPP partnered with KIPP DC, a nonprofit that operates high-performing, college-preparatory public charter schools in Washington, D.C. KIPP DC became part of the national KIPP network in 2001 with the opening of KEY Academy, which served 80 students in its first year. Since then, KIPP DC has grown to serve over 4,600 students in 15 schools - and will serve over 6,000 students at 16 schools by 2020. 

The goal of VPP’s four-year, $5.9 million investment was to strengthen KIPP DC’s internal infrastructure to enable the organization to increase the number of students it serves without compromising the quality of the education that each student receives. To do this, our investment focused on four areas: developing a pipeline of talent for KIPP DC schools, making technological advancements across the organization, improving KIPP DC’s financial security and increasing engagement with KIPP DC students, families and nearby communities.

Over the course of the investment period, KIPP DC more than tripled the number of students it serves, while also improving the quality of its schools. In fact, metrics related to increased enrollment, campus and school growth, and student academic achievement all have one thing in common: KIPP DC met and exceeded the goals VPP and KIPP DC set at the beginning of the investment.

Download the case study we recently released here. to learn more about KIPP DC and the successes and lessons learned from this investment.


The Performance Imperative: Inspiring Greater Social Impact

The Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, which has strong ties to VPP, recently launched its first collaborative work, “The Performance Imperative: A framework for social-sector excellence”, for nonprofit executives and boards, funders, public agencies and others committed to high performance. 

What is “high performance” exactly? The Performance Imperative defines it as the ability to deliver – over a prolonged period of time – meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.

In 2011, VPP published the book Leap of Reason. The book become a staple for nonprofits and increased awareness of the need to improve performance for greater social impact – a premise that has guided VPP from its inception. Building on the book’s momentum, a cadre of leaders came together to form the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community as a way to help advance high performance in mission-driven organizations.

Learn more about the community and the seven disciplines that lead an organization to high performance through this short video.

Please share the Performance Imperative with your nonprofit and philanthropic communities. We know this important resource will serve as a North Star to help us all achieve new heights for many important causes, including our own to create brighter futures for low-income youth in the National Capital Region.


Urban Alliance Launches Partnership with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office”

In January, VPP investment partner Urban Alliance launched a partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, expanding the organization’s reach in Northern Virginia to serve more youth and set them on a path to success in the workforce.

As part of the partnership, 20 high school seniors from T.C. Williams High School will participate in paid year-round internships at the USPTO campus in Alexandria. The internships will have a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focus, which creates a real-world connection to the subjects students are learning in school and prepares them for jobs in these in-demand fields.

The Urban Alliance High School Internship Program prepares high school students from under-resourced neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Baltimore and Chicago for the world of work and a life of self-sufficiency through a 10-month paid internship, mentoring and professional development training. In addition to the paid internship with corporations, nonprofits and now the federal government, students also attend job readiness workshops once a week that cover conflict resolution, interview skills, professional writing and work etiquette, among other skills.

Urban Alliance’s new partnership with the USPTO is a result of its recent expansion to Northern Virginia two years ago, which VPP helped support through its investment.

“Our hope and ultimate goal is that we will help young people build careers in the federal government and that we can work with USPTO and other agencies to build an even deeper pipeline to help the federal government identify, train, and hire local talent,” said Eshauna Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Urban Alliance, at January’s kick-off event at the USPTO.


Links We Love

Brookings released research about improving youth programs and outcomes in the National Capital Region, calling for funders and direct service providers to coinvest at the organizational level to improve outcomes (also, Leap of Reason served as a resource for the report).

NPR’s Starting Over series featured a story about unemployed people under the age of 25 and their struggle to bridge the opportunity gap, highlighting the great work done by our partner Year Up.

A recent report from the Aspen Institute, “The Bottom Line: Investing for Impact on Economic Mobility in the US”, looks at the success of impact investing in improving economic mobility for struggling families.

Check out the newest issue of Leap of Reason’s monthly newsletter to learn more about encouraging and supporting superior nonprofit leadership.

The Case Foundation and Arabella Advisors recently co-hosted a gathering for more than 100 journalists and communicators to discuss impact investing and social enterprise.


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 13 years, VPP has raised $90 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 serve an additional 15,000 children and youth across the region each year.
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