Isaac Castillo
Director of Outcomes, Assessment, and Learning

I’ve spent my career learning how to do youth development and measure it. I have worked with a wide range of youth development issues, including youth violence prevention, gang prevention, mental and physical health, homelessness, school success, and more. They’re the issues that have always interested me most.

Everyone wants to assume they are doing good. I ask people, “How do you know that you’re not actually making things worse, and what mechanisms do you have in place to test that?”

If you’re in it to make a difference and you’re not doing the measurement work, I think you’re being untrue to yourself and the people you’re trying to serve.

One of my pet peeves is the use of the term “impact.” People will throw the term around, but it actually has a very precise meaning.

I started to think about big issues at a young age. I grew up in El Paso, Texas in an area that was a little rough. On my walk home from school, I would pass my neighbors and think, “What happened to this family to get them to this place? What are people experiencing now that will affect their life in twenty years?”

Poverty doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a long pathway of social conditions and things happening that causes the dominoes to fall. Often it’s rooted in things that happened twenty years previously.

I’m a big music person. I have an absurdly large music collection, including thousands of CDs tucked away in the basement. A few of my friends and I will still make mix CDs and send them to each other.

I’ve been a D.C. United season ticket holder for twelve years now. My wife and I are big soccer fans.

Doing competitive policy debate in high school and college taught me to assess and process information very quickly. It helps me listen well and then offer solutions that move the conversation forward.

I think people in philanthropy and government are hungry to identify a better way to support services that make a difference in the lives of people. The traditional approach to funding programs and services is just not working. VPP’s approach offers a lot of potential for what the next generation of philanthropy can look like.