"This administration today, here and now,
Fifty years ago, President Johnson declared war on poverty. Today, we continue to strive for good schools, quality jobs, and positive futures for our young people. Learn more about that work below.
For many of our most vulnerable youth, gaining acceptance to college is just the beginning. The success--or failure--of our students pursuing post-secondary credentials has enormous economic and social impacts for all of us. So what should we be doing?
Read Carol's piece here.
The $1.95 million pledge will enable nearly 900 middle and high school students in Prince George's County, Md., to gain work experience from local employers and the support needed to successfully graduate.
Read the announcement here.
Dr. Rustin M. Lewis is the new Executive Director of VPP investment partner College Summit – National Capital Region, and he comes to the college access organization with a great deal of passion, energy and experience for setting youth up for college and career success.
"Whatever exposure you provide, and I'm certain of this, becomes a part of that youth's reality," Rustin says, and he is eager to join College Summit in providing young people that exposure to college as a pathway to success.
Dr. Rustin Lewis: I’ve been with College Summit about [two months] as regional executive director (NCR). The work that College Summit does directly ties to my passion, academic and career preparation. Previously, I ran a local college access program in the District for about 10 years, and then I ran a national program that focused on youth development and mentoring. My doctoral research focused on how to build human capacity in underserved youth through college access and mentoring programs.
I’ve worked in nonprofits for more than 25 years, and always with youth development and education programs. The nonprofit sector has always been my home, I’d like to think of it, so this is a great opportunity for me to work in the DC community and provide programming and services that are critical gateways to economic and social mobility for youth.
Why concentrate on college access as a way to create those opportunities?
Youth who complete college increase their social and economic mobility. It is the best investment you can make (an investment in yourself). However, when we look at statistics around the country we see that nationally, kids are just shy of ~75% college enrollment and in the District it is well under that.
What can we do, not just as an organization but as individuals, to make a difference, to emphasize in communities the importance of a college education?
I believe that there needs to be a shift in thinking from focusing on a youth deficits to nurturing a youth developmental assets. I’m a true advocate for, and believe that youth have to have exposure and mentoring, because youth can only aspire for what they’re exposed to. If they’re not getting that exposure at home, where do they get it? It has to be through the school and systems that are in place. Guidance counselors and teachers need support systems to help them help these kids.
Whatever exposure you provide, and I’m certain of this, becomes a part of that youth’s reality. So College Summit’s ability to provide these support systems and services within the school system is critical, because it creates exposure through a team of writing coaches and educators, peer leaders who are on the front lines doing the work.
What role does College Summit play in that consistent support system for youth?
The teams here, and in the national office are making a significant difference by working with various school districts throughout the region to make sure that the curriculum is being effectively delivered and by providing adequate support systems. The systems are there; I hope to provide leadership and maybe make a few suggestions along the way that will help further advance an organization that is already doing phenomenal work.
What do you find compelling about working in the National Capital Region?
The National Capital Region is a fascinating place to live. It’s a compelling place for a couple of reasons. You have the political /government world that operates in this region but you also have the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. The nonprofit sector is what I’m most comfortable speaking about, and it is a powerful and influential community that encompasses both corporate and community-based nonprofits. You have people who live in this region who just care!
Organizations like Leadership of Greater Washington are great examples of where you have a culmination of executives from the for-profit and nonprofit sectors whom, together, go through their program solely to learn about ways to improve this region. I think it’s phenomenal to be here and be around people who connect with their community’s needs.
And what does this community need?
Well, it’s ever-evolving, I’ve been living in Atlanta for the last four years, and upon my return [to DC] in March 2013, it is amazing for me to see all of the economic development that is taking place across this city; the cranes are everywhere!
As a result, the needs constantly change. It’s my personal interest to make sure we’re balancing growth and development with the needs of long-time residents, particularly youth, so we’re not just shuffling them from school to school, neighborhood to neighborhood, but that we’re trying to create sustainable communities for them. It’s been my experience that youth must have consistency in their lives. They have to have that neighborhood, that guardian, that school, and that institution that consistently gives them the same message. In our case the message is college is for you!
As part of your new role, you are also one of the representatives for College Summit in the youthCONNECT network. From your initial interactions, what are your first impressions?
I’m familiar with the great work that VPP has done from my former life in DC, so it doesn’t surprise me that two great organizations would partner to further advance the need for college access throughout the region and nationally. I’m still in the learning curve, but from what I know about youthCONNECT and the other partners—organizations like Latin American Youth Center, Metro TeenAIDS, Year Up, whom also have strong national reputation—for them to be around the table all focused around the same mission, it’s exciting. It’s working with a group of people who speak the same language, who share a common vision, and that’s how we’ll make a difference.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s about the vision of [College Summit founder] JB Schramm, the National College Summit office and the NCR staff. From the onset of my administration, I’ve encountered a group of passionate people who understand the need for evaluation, measurement, outcomes and leveling the college access playing field. It’s been a pleasure.
VPP investment partner College Summit joined the White House in sharing new efforts to make college more accessible.
VPP Investment Partner College Summit continues to be a leader in college access, bringing its expertise to the White House Summit on College Access on January 16. College Summit Founder J.B. Schramm and College Summit board members joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and college leaders from around the country to get low-income students to and through college.
“There is this huge cohort of talent that we’re not tapping,” said President Obama to the crowd. “Here, we have dedicated citizens from across the country that are ready to meet this challenge.”
At the assembly, College Summit introduced ScholarJob, a collaboration with business leaders that provides high school students with the pathways they need to take through high school and college to start their career. The program harnesses the power of employers who can show students the direct connection between the education they need and the careers they want.
The day before at the White House’s “Education Datapalooza”, College Summit showcased its leadership in new technologies making college more accessible. College Summit introduced their CollegeAppMap which uses a host of apps to support, inform, and coach [students] to and through college. The map helps guide high school and college students through what they need to know to get to and through college. Then it connects them to technological resources that will help them achieve their goals, whether it is finding the best college matches or finding scholarships and filling out financial aid paperwork.
"It's a win for the urban communities, it's a win for the students, and it's a win for our company," said American Express CEO Ken Chenault. "We would not be doing this unless these students were active contributors as employees. And they more than pull their weight."
VPP investment partner Year Up was showcased on 60 Minutes last month for its work closing the opportunity divide. The powerful feature story is available online: Jobs program benefits Fortune 500 and underprivileged youth.
The piece closes with Year Up's plans to scale its work, in part through partnerships with community colleges across the country. This expansion pilot grew out of VPP's "influence investment" in Year Up to help them reach more young people and narrow the skills gap facing underserved young adults today. VPP Board Member Dr. Robert Templin played an integral role spearheading the community college partnership work and as the board representative for Year Up National, and VPP Vice Chairman David Joubran has worked closely with Year Up - National Capital Region on its advisory board.
Our investment in Latin American Youth Center supports the Promotor Pathways program, which pairs disconnected youth with Promotors who provide long-term, extensive support. Just over two hundred youth are currently active in Pathway. Angela’s story is a powerful, personal insight into how the meaningful a Promotor can be for the life of each one of these young people.
Her Promotor was able to safety plan with Angela, assisted her in calling the Domestic Violence hotline, and even developed a code language to use via text message to ensure her safety. Angela attempted to leave her boyfriend several times and went to domestic violence shelters, but would return back to him. Statistics show that a woman will leave her abuser an average of seven times before finally ending the relationship and Angela fit that pattern. Through it all, her Promotor never judged or pushed, and instead would assist Angela every time she needed transport to a shelter or a person to talk to after being harmed.
Throughout this time, Angela began to identify her goals and her Promotor helped her to see that she could be an independent mother. Together, they began to gather her son’s medical records and important documents as well as navigate various benefits and community resources to move toward her goal of independence. One of Angela’s dreams was to join the Army. After meeting with a recruiter, she saw this as her career path and a way to gain the resources that would help her and her son. However, as a single mom, she found it difficult to see this goal fulfilled, and soon became reliant on her child’s father because she felt she would need his assistance to care for their son. They decided to get married which led to Angela falling deeper into the unhealthy relationship. Through it all, she was able to maintain her relationship with her Promotor and stated that it helped her to “keep hope.”
Little by little, Angela began to pull away from her husband and gain control of her life. She began to move toward her goal of enlisting in the Army. Her Promotor encouraged her in moments of doubt, motivated her, and drove her to Army recruiting centers. She stopped using substances, and this summer, enlisted and received her date for basic training. After making arrangements with family to care for her son, her Promotor took her to the base in North Carolina. Angela continued to contact her Promotor and share her experiences. It has been amazing to hear her transformation. She is managing her mental health with therapy rather than substances, and has built a positive support network. She has gained self- worth and confidence in herself as a woman, takes care of her son financially, and is seeking a divorce to end her unhealthy marriage. This Christmas Angela came home from training to spend the holidays with her son. Her Promotor drove down to pick her up and brought her to our holiday party. We were able to see firsthand how this young woman has transformed into a strong and vibrant adult. It is clear that Angela has the confidence needed to continuing fighting for her and her son to have a successful future.
“Stories of Impact from the Social Innovation Fund,” a recent publication from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), profiled VPP and the other grantmakers participating as intermediaries in the Social Innovation Fund. The piece looks through the eyes of two students onto what the uniquely collaborative effort of VPP and the youthCONNECT network means for them.
The Social Investment Fund provides funding for grantmaking intermediaries like VPP to make smart investments in strong organizations within the communities they know so well. So far, it has supported 20 intermediary organizations that have gone on to support more than 220 sub-grantees. To date, the Social Innovation Fund has granted VPP $8 million to promote the youthCONNECT network in its effort to improve the education, employment, and healthy behavior outcomes for 20,000 low-income youth, ages 14-24, in the National Capital Region.
The youthCONNECT network is unique within the Social Innovation Fund’s set of investments because of its collaborative approach. Ever since VPP first applied for funding from the Social Innovation Fund, it sought to frame the Fund’s intermediary approach as a way to bring nonprofits together toward a common outcome. It meant making a shift from individual capacity building to something greater, for greater impact. That idea developed into the youthCONNECT network as it continues to grow today.
“Stories of Impact from the Social Innovation Fund” takes a look at what the youthCONNECT network looks like now as the nonprofit partners begin to work together in a charter school in DC. Take a look at page 41 in this document to learn more and flip through the report to see the important work that is happening across the country thanks to the Social Innovation Fund’s support.
GEO is a coalition of grantmakers dedicated to building strong and effective nonprofit organizations. VPP is a member of GEO.
Together, the college & career preparatory nonprofit and the beauty magazine share the importance of a strong first impression in the professional world.
A strong first impression and a confident presence are valuable assets in the professional world. They are also two of the many hard and soft skills that students in the Year Up program learn as they prepare for college and careers.
This year, VPP investment partner Year Up teamed up with Allure magazine to celebrate some of the program’s most successful students for a photo shoot to celebrate that transformation. Take a look at the video to meet some of the young women who are getting “career building makeovers” with Allure and learn about why Year Up’s program has been so valuable to them. Watch here: Year Up Behind-the-Scenes Video: Career-Building Makeovers.
VPP investor Ted Leonsis is helping draw attention to a range of social issues through film.
VPP investor Ted Leonsis is committed to “filmanthropy,” a term he uses to capture the growing trend of creating socially relevant movies meant to make a difference. Ted co-created SnagFilms in 2008 with the mission to make films and documentaries like these accessible to wider audiences online. His work was recently highlighted in “Changing the World Through Storytelling,” a compelling feature article in the Philanthropy Roundtable’s quarterly Philanthropy magazine.
Take a look at the article and find the sidebar by scrolling down to the end of the article: Changing the World Through Storytelling.
Thank you to the many businesses that supported nonprofits serving the National Capital Region in 2013.
Take a look at this impressive list of companies giving their time and treasures to organizations that include VPP investment partners Urban Alliance, Latin American Youth Center, Mary’s Center, and Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools.
Mario Morino on why the difference between outputs and outcomes matters when measuring philanthropic success.
A recent article on how to achieve progress in DC schools showcased two VPP investment partners that are providing some of that momentum: KIPP DC and its CEO Susan Schaeffler, and AppleTree's Every Child Ready preschool program.
From Clinton Global Initiative CEO Robert Harrison: Why Cross-Sector Partnerships Are Increasingly Essential to Creating Positive Change
VPP research partner Child Trends delves into what the war on poverty, declared 50 years ago by President Johnson, means for kids today.
A list of some of the challenges facing higher education in 2014 includes workforce development, cost, and competency-based education.
Take some time to explore this interactive graphic from the New York Times: mapping poverty in America.
How much does persistent youth unemployment cost our country?
|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