Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


October 2014

Mon, 2014-10-20

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
- Nelson Mandela

From Carol’s Desk: Setting the Agenda

Fall is in full swing in the National Capital Region and elections are right around the corner for many critical seats across our region. I’ll leave the speculation about who will win to the pundits, but I have spent some time talking to our investment partners about their hopes, priorities and recommendations for policymakers in this transitional political season.

Encouraging and facilitating collaboration between nonprofits, businesses, philanthropy and government, is one of the cornerstones of our work at VPP. We hope the new D.C. mayor, as well as leaders in Maryland and Virginia, and all those returning to or coming into elected office, are listening to some of our region’s brightest minds. 

Read about our investment partners' suggestions for the National Capital Region’s agenda in this month's column from VPP president and CEO Carol Thompson Cole.


VPP Receives Funding for youthCONNECT Program

On September 17, the Social Innovation Fund announced that the Corporation for National and Community Service would be continuing its support of VPP for a fifth year with a $2 million investment. This award brings the Fund’s total commitment to $10 million – funding which VPP investors and private funders have matched to bring our youthCONNECT investment to $36 million in the region.

"Five years ago, the Social Innovation Fund was created to find solutions that work and make them work for more people…. Five years later, we’ve become a national solutions accelerator and amplifier, investing hundreds of millions of dollars, along with our private sector partners to prove, improve and scale solutions that work," said Michael Smith, the director of the Social Innovation Fund. The Social Innovation Fund at the Corporation for National and Community Service provides investments to innovative organizations focused on youth development and economic opportunity.

Thanks to this funding, VPP can continue the incredible collaboration with our youthCONNECT network partners to achieve our five-year vision. youthCONNECT – an initiative to create a network of high-performing nonprofits to focus on collective work to improve education, employment and healthy behaviors for low-income and at-risk youth – is on target to bring new opportunities to more than 20,000 vulnerable youth in the National Capital Region. You can read more about the youthCONNECT program here.

We’re looking forward to continuing to work with our partners to expand our transformative network, providing increasing numbers of our region's youth with a robust and comprehensive set of services to help them transition to a self-sustaining adulthood.


Urban Alliance Shines Spotlight on Youth Employment

The number of young Americans who are struggling to enter the workforce is skyrocketing – last year, 22 percent of 16- to 19-year-old Americans were unemployed. Earlier this month, VPP partner Urban Alliance cast a spotlight on the importance of youth employment and the need for communities to take action to address this issue.

On October 3, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Urban Alliance hosted its "Youth Employment Matters! High Quality Solutions & the Role of Corporate Engagement” forum to bring together business leaders to identify solutions that employers can implement to address youth unemployment.

"[Youth unemployment] poses a serious threat to our economy and America’s long-term prosperity," said John McKernan, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. "It telegraphs a growing trend of underprepared workers in the future."

Melody Barnes, CEO of Melody Barnes Solutions, LLC and former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, explained the urgency in taking a new approach to these issues: “We have to stop just looking at this as a program-by-program solution. We are program rich but we are system poor. We have to think about how these programs work together and how we leverage them in larger systems so we can get to scale because we are talking about at least 6.7 – 7 million young people …that we can bring into our workforce.”

Vice President Joe Biden keynoted the event, highlighting the importance of addressing unemployment. "If you’re 18 to 24 and you’re out of work and out of school, it doesn’t bode well for you when you’re 35 and 45," Biden noted.

Other speakers included: Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Kathleen Matthews, chief communications and public affairs officer at Marriott International; Thomas Nides, vice chairman at Morgan Stanley; and Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of Urban Institute, among others.

Read more about the event here.


Federal City Council Profiles VPP’s Carol Thompson Cole

We were excited to read an interview with Carol Thompson Cole, VPP’s president and CEO, about her work with the Federal City Council and her years of service as an executive committee member.

The Federal City Council (FCC) brings together local business leaders and professionals to focus on opportunities and challenges in Washington, D.C. The FCC works with local business and civic leaders to align the federal government’s interests with the needs of the District, engaging stakeholders such as the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

"I have served as a member of the Executive Committee for many years. There, I share my perspective as a representative of Venture Philanthropy Partners, and I help identify pressing issues in the community," she notes. "Historically, the Federal City Council’s purpose was to bring together top civic and business leaders in the District. I believed that by joining the Council, I could play a role in making D.C. one of the best places in the country to live, work and do business."

Through the FCC, Carol helps impact policies that affect residents of the District. "Because of my work with Venture Philanthropy Partners, my primary policy issue today is youth development and education reform. I have been a lifelong resident of the city and I have seen the importance of education first-hand. Education creates life opportunities for children that they otherwise would not receive. We can have a wonderful, beautiful city, but we need to make sure that kids can live their dreams."

You can read the full interview with Carol and learn more about the Federal City Council here.


Links We Love

The Washington Post reported some good news on the local education front in its October 8 article, D.C. public schools enrollments continue to climb. The piece highlights that enrollment has increased by about three percent in both public and charter schools across the area.

Congratulations to the students of Friendship Public Charter School for launching Code FNN, an online news site of Friendship News Network (FNN), written by and for students in grades preK-12 at Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released "Sustaining Momentum: Improving Educational Stability for Youth in Foster Care,"a report that outlines successes achieved to-date in helping states across the country implement the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

Michael D. Smith, director of the Social Innovation Fund, offers insights on taking a proven solution and scaling it for maximum impact in the Stanford Social Innovation Review piece, Making “What Works” Work for More People. The feature also includes Q&As with two on-the-ground veterans of nonprofit scaling: Bob Giannino, the CEO of uAspire, and Lois Loofbourrow, the founder of Breakthrough Collaborative.

Stories Worth Telling: A Guide to Strategic and Sustainable Nonprofit Storytelling, published by the Meyer Foundation and the Center for Social Impact Communication, shares a treasure trove of tips, best practices and resources for nonprofits looking to share their stories more effectively.

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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