Venture Philanthropy Partners: Investing in Social Change.


Open Competition

Open Competition Process

Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) completed an open competition process to select additional network partners for the youthCONNECT initiative, funded in part through the Federal Government’s Social Innovation Fund. The  open competition resulted in two organizations joining the four pre-selected network partners to create a network of six high performing nonprofits in the National Capital Region working to improve opportunities for low-income youth, ages 14-24.

The open competition process began in late September of 2010 and concluded in February of 2011. The first stage of the process began with a Request for Preliminary Proposals (RFPP) that all interested organizations were required to submit in order to be included in the process. VPP also hosted a bidders conference and two webinars to help orient potential grantees to the process. After the RFPPs were submitted, an Independent Review Team reviewed the proposals and selected the organizations that best met the selection criteria to submit full proposals. The review team consisted of ten members, which included external thought leaders, local funders, VPP staff and staff of youthCONNECT’s evaluation partner, Child Trends.

In the second stage of the process, the Independent Review Team used weighted selection criteria to narrow down the remaining organizations based on the proposals submitted and recommended organizations to advance to the third stage of the competition. Child Trends provided additional analysis of each organization’s level of evidence, according to the Social Innovation Fund’s definitions, and of evaluation plans. After the final organizations in stage two were selected, VPP staff initiated the VPP investment selection process to determine the final organizations.

The third stage of the process was conducted with extensive involvement from the nonprofit finalists.  The VPP investment selection process focuses on whether an organization, and in particular its leadership, has a track record of demonstrated performance, offers the basis of an effective partnership to youthCONNECT, and has the ability and will to grow substantially and/or make a meaningful difference for the children and youth it serves. The investment selection team conducted a number of activities and used various, internal tools to come to its final decision, including interviews with many key stakeholders of the organizations; program reviews; site visits; an assessment of each finalists’ organizational capacity, using an Organizational Assessment Tool; due diligence using external legal and accounting resources; and obtaining written confirmation of the commitment to meet SIF match funding requirements.

The two organizations selected—Metro TeenAIDS and Urban Alliance—were announced at the end of February 2011. Both of these investments represent over $1.3 million in capital from VPP over two years, which will be matched by outside funders $1 for $1.

Open Competition Results

Approximately 200 organizations expressed interest in applying to youthCONNECT by either participating in the introductory bidders conference or attending an initial webinar on the youthCONNECT open competition process.

VPP received 38 complete preliminary proposals from which the Independent Review Team selected eight organizations to submit full proposals.

The Independent Review Team selected four finalist organizations to be subjected to the third stage of the process, the VPP Investment Selection stage.

After careful assessment of the finalists, VPP’s selection decision for youthCONNECT included adding Urban Alliance and Metro TeenAIDS. VPP’s vetting process confirmed the Independent Review Team’s ranking of the applicant organizations. VPP’s public announcement occurred on March 7, 2011.

A critical follow-up to the open competition process included VPP’s offer to provide feedback on proposal submissions to all applicants. VPP completed 14 phone and in-person meetings that were productive and well-received.

VPP executed individual investment agreements with all six network partners related to the terms and conditions of the SIF award.

For more information on the open competition process, read our "lessons learned."

Key application documents:

The following documents were critical components of VPP’s open competition process. All of the documents are in PDF format. To view a PDF file, make sure you have the free Adobe Acrobat reader. If you have any trouble viewing, downloading, or printing our reports, please contact us.