Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


November 2014

Mon, 2014-11-24

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
- Melody Beattie

From Carol’s Desk: A Time to Give Thanks

As we start this Thanksgiving season, all of us who are a part of VPP – investors, staff, and partners – have a tremendous amount to celebrate. This year, we have helped provide resources, mentoring and life-changing services to thousands of youth who are struggling to connect with opportunities in our region.

Take for instance, Jasmine Chestnut – who is a young woman from Washington, D.C., and has become one of our proudest examples of how our work to create collaboration and connection through youthCONNECT are paying off.

Jasmine went through the KIPP charter school system in Washington, D.C. After she prepared to graduate from high school, she entered a program called KIPP Through College – a youthCONNECT partner program – which helps young people pick the right schools, navigate the college-application process, and then supports them during their college years.

Read more about Jasmine's story in this month's column from VPP president and CEO Carol Thompson Cole.


Business, Legal and Philanthropy Leaders Join Venture Philanthropy Partners Board

On November 18, Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) announced the election of three prominent local business, legal and philanthropic leaders to its Board of Directors. They include:

Lauren Peterson, Director of the Fairfax, Virginia-based Peterson Family Foundation, which focuses its efforts on human services, health care and education;

Bradford Seamon, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of the Seamon Corporation, which supports federal programs and private organizations that deliver health, safety and human services to communities across our nation and the world; and

David Sylvester, Partner at Fitzgerald & Rhodes LLP, which focuses on complex corporate transactions and general counsel services.

“These leaders will bring invaluable experience to help us tackle complex challenges facing our region’s youth. With their new ideas and energy, VPP will work better than ever so that low-income children and youth in our region have a better chance for a brighter future,” said Frank LaPrade, VPP board chairman.

Read more about them here.


Mission Forward Panel Discusses how Nonprofits Can Amplify Success

Last month, C. Fox Communications hosted its Mission Forward: Summit of Leaders event to bring together organizations to share stories and discuss how communications can help propel missions forward. The event engaged leaders and influencers working in philanthropy, journalism and social entrepreneurship to explore how nonprofits can amplify their successes.

As part of this event, C. Fox hosted a panel called “Advancing Missions Amid New Philanthropy Models.” VPP’s president and CEO, Carol Thompson Cole, served as a panelist, along with George Jones, CEO of Bread for the City, and Nicky Goren, president & CEO of the Meyer Foundation.

Cole talked about VPP’s investment model, noting “VPP was started as a different way of doing philanthropy….We’re constantly looking throughout this community for organizations that are high performing serving youth and children of low-income families. We engage in rigorous due diligence….to get to know the organizations and make sure that what they want to do is plausible and possible, then we go shoulder to shoulder with them to bring money and strategic assistance to work with the organizations to get to their next levels of aspirations.”

When asked about the next big change for nonprofits and funding sources, Cole focused on collaboration, explaining “That’s something we’ve wanted for a long time but we find it’s one of the hardest things to accomplish….Our work going forward is about the promise and power of networks, and we’re going to take [our work] to the next level and build, support and prepare high-potential organizations so some of these problems will not exist for kids in 10-15 years.”

The event also featured keynote speaker Jonathan Greenblatt, director or the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, which focuses on policies and programs that can create stronger communities and bolster economic recovery.

Learn more about the event and watch videos of the event’s panels here.

(photo,courtesy of C. Fox Communications)

VPP Investment Partners Featured in “Moneyball for Government”

Four of VPP’s second portfolio organizations, including AppleTree and Urban Alliance – as well as the national organizations of KIPP and Year Up – are featured as some of the country’s most innovative social programs in a new book released this month. “Moneyball for Government” focuses on why governments at all levels should invest in programs and policies that use data, evidence and evaluation in order to fund what works and achieve better results for young people, their families and communities.

“Moneyball for Government” is a project and campaign of Results for America and applies a government lens to the original story about Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's, who famously transformed baseball by using data and statistics to build a winning team despite a limited budget. 

The book’s authors include bipartisan leaders from the public and private sectors, such as Melody Barnes, former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Republican political strategist Kevin Madden; Gene Sperling, who served as director of the National Economic Council for both President Clinton and President Obama; and U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), among others.

VPP’s investment partners are featured in the book’s “Moneyball at Work” section, which profiles organizations across the country that are all committed to using data and evaluation to make decisions and achieve their missions. These profiles highlight:

  • AppleTree’s preschool instructional model, Every Child Ready, which continuously monitors student and teacher performance in order to ensure quality child-teacher interactions and strong child outcomes. The profile adds that more than 90 percent of AppleTree students scored in the normal range or above in standardized vocabulary on 2012 exams.

  • Urban Alliance’s  commitment to results and evaluation, both internal and external. The piece describes an assessment Urban Alliance created to gauge participant growth in professional skills, providing real-time feedback to participants. The organization also tracks college enrollment through the National Student Clearinghouse, which specializes in post-secondary enrollment verification.

  • Year Up’s participation in the federally-funded Innovative Strategies for Increasing Self-Sufficiency (ISIS) study, an evaluation of national strategies aimed at assisting low-income, low-skilled individuals. The profile adds that Year Up has served more than 10,000 young adults and that within four months of graduating from Year Up, 85 percent of alumni are either attending college or are employed and earning an average salary of $30,000 per year.

  • KIPP’s long-standing commitment to independent research on its effectiveness – particularly with Mathematica Policy Research and its longitudinal study of KIPP middle schools. Mathematica found that the schools made significant gains in reading, math, science and social studies across all grades and that the magnitude of KIPP’s achievement impacts is substantial.

  • Learn more and order the book here


    D.C. Event Celebrates Women’s Leadership

    On Oct. 18, the District of Columbia Commission for Women hosted its Inaugural Policy Conference. The event gathered leaders from all over the District to build constituencies, empower leaders and find solutions that address issues that are important to the District’s women.

    VPP President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole, was the event’s keynote speaker and highlighted the opportunity to positively impact the futures of youth in the National Capital Region. In light of the challenges that face our children, including poverty, greater chance of chronic health issues and other problems, Cole described how important it is to have leaders who understand the need and are willing to stay the course on issues that impact young people. She also added how important it is for women to be leaders in driving change, noting, “I know – deep in my bones – that when women leaders rise up, focus on a challenge and really have one another’s backs, that kind of collaborative force is almost unstoppable.”

    During her keynote, Cole highlighted the work that VPP is doing through the youthCONNECT initiative to make a difference in the lives of the National Capital Region’s youth. She highlighted the power of this type of collaboration, noting, “We have the resources. We have the talent. Let’s use our collective leadership to create a better day in our region for our young people and especially our young women. Let’s show that through smart collaboration we can build a healthier region that gains strength by fully leveraging the efforts and skills of all its citizens.”


    Ideagen Summit Highlights Potential of Collective Impact

    Earlier this month, Ideagen held its quarterly summit in Washington, D.C. for the Ideagen 100, a network that brings together the world’s leading corporations, NGOs, and public sector organizations to discuss collective impact ideas and innovation.

    The theme of the recent summit, “Global Resiliency: America and the World in 2050,” focused on the pressing needs and strategies within four areas: leadership, innovation, technology and equity. During the event, VPP’s President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole was honored with an Ideagen Impact Leader Award.

    George Sifakis, CEO and Founder of Ideagen, outlined the importance of global resiliency moving forward and introduced speakers from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ritz Carlton, University of Houston's Foresight Program, Global Communities and Vodafone.

    With its strong focus on collaboration and collective impact, Ideagen hosts the quarterly summits to address large-scale change to meet the unprecedented social, resource, business, political and organizational challenges of today. As VPP knows well from its work in the National Capital Region, when we work collectively, we can achieve far more than what any organization can do on its own.

    Read more about this cross-sector effort here.


    Links We Love

    A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Creating Opportunity for Family: A Two-Generation Approach, calls for connecting families with early childhood education, job training and other tools to achieve financial stability and break the cycle of poverty, and recommends ways to help equip families with what they need to thrive.

    Child Trends Hispanic Institute’s newest study, Math Scores Add Up for Hispanic Students, finds that Hispanic teens in major cities across the country – including DC – are making significant progress in mathematics.

    The Washington Post November 9 article, Potomac High School’s culinary arts program gives lessons in math, chemistry, highlights the innovative courses of Prince William County’s Career and Technical Education program that help students in the region gain vocational skills that prepare them to be successful adults whether they head to college as a next step or directly into the workforce.

    The Chronicle of Philanthropy profiled Steve and Jean Case’s commitment to impact investing in the November 3 article, Steve and Jean Case Tout ‘Impact Investments’ Instead of Giving Money Away. (A subscription to the Chronicle of Philanthropy is required to access the full article.)

    Check out the newest issue of Leap of Reason’s monthly newsletter to learn more about Motherhood, Pumpkin Pie and Moneyball.


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.
Subscriber Tools





Investment Portfolio Investors Impact Learning About Us
Copyright 2014© Venture Philanthropy Partners