Fw: VPPNews: January 2011

my buzz & my blog

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” George Washington Carver

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

Statement of Faith
You can find other “Market with Meaning” but you definitely want to see “Profit with Purpose”.
I personally “Believe in Kingdom Transformation” because I know there is only ONE “Life for Significant”.

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2011年1月12日 星期三,Venture Philanthropy Partners <jraderstrong@vppartners.org> 寫道﹕

寄件人: Venture Philanthropy Partners <jraderstrong@vppartners.org>
主題: VPPNews: January 2011
收件人: incubator.hou@gmail.com
日期: 2011年1月12日,星期三,下午9:30

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Chairman's Corner

Towards a Redefinition of Scale

Scale. It certainly was a buzz word in the nonprofit sector for 2010.  At VPP, we talk a lot about scale: Helping our investment partners scale to serve more children and youth of low-income families, scaling across jurisdictions to better serve shifting demographics, and, most recently, scaling our youthCONNECT network to comprehensively address the multi-faceted barriers to success for young adults in the National Capital Region.

But for the New Year, I would like to join the growing chorus of those who are pushing back on measuring scale exclusively through outputs and are instead encouraging an expanded definition of scale based on ultimate increase in effectiveness and outcomes.

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From VPP

Capital One’s Approach to High Engagement Corporate Philanthropy

Unlike some corporations, Capital One does not sit on the sidelines after its philanthropic grants have been made. Last year alone, its associates logged close to 100,000 volunteer hours in the communities it serves.

These volunteer hours are just one of many pro-bono benefits that Capital One provides through its grant-making. It has a pro-bono volunteer program, which links associates up with nonprofits in need of their professional skills. It also places executives on its grantee boards to leverage their business leadership to increase the capacity of these nonprofits.

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President's Perspective

Towards a Redefinition of Scale

Mario Morino

Scale. It certainly was a buzz word in the nonprofit sector for 2010.  At VPP, we talk a lot about scale: Helping our investment partners scale to serve more children and youth of low-income families, scaling across jurisdictions to better serve shifting demographics, and, most recently, scaling our youthCONNECT network to comprehensively address the multi-faceted barriers to success for young adults in the National Capital Region.

But for the New Year, I would like to join the growing chorus of those who are pushing back on measuring scale exclusively through outputs and are instead encouraging an expanded definition of scale based on an ultimate increase in effectiveness and outcomes. Obviously, increasing the number of individuals served—whether that is through workforce development programs, after school classes, or college tutoring—creates a tremendous benefit for the individuals served and for a region. But interpreting scale exclusively as increasing the number of people served can constrain and limit a nonprofit’s goals and strategies and miss some important elements of creating lasting change in a community.

In addition to increasing outputs from an individual organization, another pathway to significantly increasing results is through scaling up a network of organizations working towards common outcomes, similar to what Strive in Cincinnati has done and what VPP is attempting to do with youthCONNECT. I wrote about the importance of a networked approach to social change in my column last April. One other way to approach scale, which I want to focus on in this column, is through seeking to influence and change the broader system in which an organization works.

This type of scale ultimately has the same goal as increasing the number of people served, but approaches creating lasting effect in a different way. Instead of delivering services, scaling through influence can take many different forms. Jeffrey Bradach, co-founder of Bridgespan, wrote an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review that details the different ways organizations can scale their effect without having to increase the size of their organization, or the number of services they provide. These ranged from developing a web-based platform to increase supporters—like KaBOOM! did—to using advocacy in tandem with your services—like City Year does. VPP has encouraged and implemented many of these strategies with its investment partners while also looking for ways to scale up the services provided.

These strategies can have a profound overall effect. Often, funders will focus simply on tangible results: How many children received their vaccinations by age two? How many teenagers graduated from high school on time? How many are on track to enroll in a four-year college? These are important indicators of progress, but miss the more difficult to measure efforts to create deeper, systemic change. A Bradach describes in his article, the contributions of City Year’s advocacy efforts to make service a priority in this country is as important as the number of volunteers it directly supports. Those efforts produced many results, including helping form the Corporation for National and Community Service. This “scale by influence” has multiplier effects beyond the communities and regions an organization directly touches.

VPP sees and encourages these types of scale in many of our investment partnerships. The most recent example of scaling through influence has been our partnership with Year Up, National Capital Region (NCR), a local site of the national workforce development organization that places at-risk youth in internships to help them gain work experience. We completed our first annual review of the investment and are very pleased with the progress and accomplishments to date. Year Up NCR has made some significant strides increasing the number of youth served, but the most notable accomplishments have been made in other areas of the investment.

Year Up ‘s five-year strategy includes the following goals:

  • Fundamentally change the lives of over 1,000 local young adults who are employed in high potential, living wage positions;
  • Demonstrate a nationally relevant partnership model with community colleges that strengthens the pipeline of low income young adults from high school to college and/or to work;
  • Significantly influence the behavior and priorities of the federal government on issues of education and employment for young adults;

Only one of these goals is about scale through outputs.  The second and third goals will benefit not only Year Up NCR, and Year Up sites in other locations, but have the potential to change the game for all of those who are working to help young people increase their education and employment outcomes.

Although it will be more difficult to ultimately quantify the benefits achieved through those goals, we are able to track early indicators of progress. Year Up NCR has forged strong partnerships with several other organizations in the area, including AOL, Northern Virginia Community College, and Freddie Mac that have the potential to make lasting systemic change on employment opportunities for disconnected youth in the National Capital Region beyond those directly served by Year Up. The success of the Year Up youth in these internships opens the doors to many other youth like them for the future, regardless of their affiliation with the program. These partnerships can also serve as models for other Year Up sites around the country.

Year Up is not the only investment partner with a record of scaling influence. To a certain degree, all of our investment partners have successfully leveraged some aspect of their organization to create a positive effect beyond the number of services they provide. One that stands out, and is quickly becoming a nationally recognized model, is the work at the See Forever Foundation.

Like Year Up NCR, VPP began its investment with the See Forever Foundation, which runs the Maya Angelou Public Charter schools in the District of Columbia, when it was serving a small number of children, around 80 in 2003. By the time the investment period had ended, it was serving significantly more children, around 240. Three years later, that number had jumped to over 500, a testament to the capacity building the organization went through with VPP’s strategic assistance and investment.

But those numbers alone do not illustrate the full affect See Forever is having on its community. More than three years ago, in part because of the solid capacity it had built through VPP’s investment, See Forever was able to compete for and win a contract with the District Youth Rehabilitation Services to operate a school at its new youth correctional facility, New Beginnings. See Forever’s school, the Maya Angelou Academy, began to operate with a focus on the rehabilitation of youth back into society. In just a few years, See Forever has turned around the education program at the facility and been deemed a nationally recognized, “remarkable” program. Standardized tests show that, on average, students at the Maya Angelou Academy are achieving the equivalent of 1.4 years in reading and 1.3 year in math through the program.  (For more on See Forever’s work at New Beginnings, read the recent Education Week article on the program.)

In order to add scaling through influence as a strategy for organizations that are focused on scaling outputs and outcomes, nonprofit leaders should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do I have a complete and accurate picture of the landscape and ecosystem in which my organizations operates?
  • Do I have an overarching vision for the change I am trying to achieve beyond my organization’s programmatic goals and immediate mission?
  • Have I identified the leverage points that my organization is uniquely positioned to effect?
  • Do I have the right staff for the job and the board members I need to implement an influence strategy?
  • Have I demonstrated the effectiveness of my own service model in a measurable and compelling way?
  • Am I willing to put significant resources into making systemic change for which my organization may or may not get direct credit?
  • Does my organization have the patience and flexibility to go down a path that rarely yields direct and immediate results?

Advocacy and influence in not a new tool for nonprofits by any means, and is obviously not appropriate for all organizations, particularly in early stages of growth. But in all the conversations about expansion and replication, some of the social sector’s most powerful means to long-lasting change are often overlooked. Scale in numbers will ameliorate the lives of many, but leave the root causes of issues unchanged.  We see the greatest social return when expansion is coupled with strategic and effective influence strategies.   It’s not easy to measure and may not show the instantaneous effects many donors and funders look for, but if we are committed to ultimate systemic change, we must pursue every path to get there.  

– Carol Thompson Cole

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From VPP

Capital One’s Approach to High Engagement Corporate Philanthropy

Unlike some corporations, Capital One does not sit on the sidelines after its philanthropic grants have been made. Last year alone, its associates logged close to 100,000 volunteer hours in the communities it serves. 

These volunteer hours are just one of many pro-bono benefits that Capital One provides through its grant-making. It has a pro-bono volunteer program, which links associates up with nonprofits in need of their professional skills. It also places executives on its grantee boards to leverage their business leadership to increase the capacity of these nonprofits.

“Our pro bono services enable us to leverage the talent and expertise of our associates with those organizations that we are also funding to deliver programs on the front lines in the community,” said Daniel Horgan, Director of Capital One’s Community Relations.

These pro bono partnerships fit in Capital One’s broader strategy of high-engagement corporate philanthropy. Its model is similar to VPP’s: It focuses specifically in regions where it has influence, it invests in organizations’ capacity, and creates high-engagement relationships between the nonprofits and the corporation for long-term impact. In part, because of their similar models, Capital One became VPP’s first corporate partner in Fund II. 

“We believe in a multi-faceted approach to community development,” said Horgan. “Beyond just grants to organizations or projects, we really feel strongly that you need to leverage the time, talent, and treasure of the company and its associates.”

Capital One makes grants to organizations working on community development. It supports organizations and programs that work on economic development, financial literacy, and education. It has worked with most of VPP’s investment partners, including the Latin American Youth Center, where Steve Linehan, Capital One’s treasurer, sits on the board.

“The level of success we have attained in the last few years has been in large part because of the Capital One partnership,” said Lori Kaplan, Executive Director of LAYC. “The relationship with Steve personally and Capital One has taken us to a much higher level.”

Besides grants from Capital One, Linehan also introduced LAYC to Capital One’s pro bono partnerships, and LAYC has benefited from a complete financial analysis of the organization by Capital One’s finance associates.

Both Capital One and VPP say that they have learned a lot from each other since their partnership began in 2007.

“Seeing the level of detail and sophistication in the way that VPP assesses its partners in the cultivation stage, before any commitment or partnership is formalized, has helped us think through our approach to enhancing existing partnerships or cultivating new relationships,” said Horgan.

“Capital One was VPP’s first corporate partner and has set the stage for future corporate relationships,” said VPP President and CEO Carol Thompson Cole. “We have a strong partnership at multiple levels, most significantly in the way we support the VPP investment partners.  Capital One has provided significant human and capital resources to organizations in VPP’s first portfolio, and our investments reinforce and increase our individual efforts greatly.”

Horgan says that Capital One’s corporate mission is directly tied to its philanthropic mission: Create more economically stable communities.

“Overall, our corporate citizenship work is integrated into our business, because at the end of the day, it’s about increasing economic stability in places where we do business,” said Horgan. “When our philanthropic and business investments help make communities more economically vital, everybody wins.”

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Year Up Completes First Period of VPP Partnership

Year Up Logo

VPP recently completed the annual review of its first investment partner in Portfolio II, Year Up National Capital Region (NCR). Year Up has met or exceeded many of the milestones set for the initial period in the initial investment agreement and VPP looks forward to continuing the partnership next year and the years to come.

Most significantly, Year Up NCR for the first time obtained significant commitments of public funding from Montgomery County and the District of Columbia towards the support of Year Up NCR and the respective students from those jurisdictions and successfully staged the first major Year Up revenue development gala event in the NCR and netted approximately $400,000 from the event. In addition, Year Up NCR increased its number of corporate employment partners in the past year. Year Up NCR participants now have over 30 internship options to choose from, including The Carlyle Group, Freddie Mac, and AOL.

Year Up NCR also exceeded its yearly goal for the number of program graduates either employed in a good job or enrolled in college, with 91% of graduates from the January 2010 class meeting these criteria. In the past year, Year Up NCR has also increased engagement between alumni and current participants, increased the number of disconnected youth in its program, and utilized a Salesforce tracking system to measure its results.

”VPP has proven to be instrumental in the success of our program,” said Year Up NCR Executive Director Tynesia Boyea Robinson. “Their investment allowed a deepening of our organization’s effectiveness in closing the Opportunity Divide for our students, and we are grateful for their continued support.”

On top of their achievements in outcomes for their participants, Year Up has also made substantial progress towards increasing organizational capacity. They have hired all VPP-budgeted positions and other staff required to support their growth and other initiatives, streamlined their hiring process, and allowed more professional development for staff. The effect of the human capital investment was reflected in all aspects of their overall high level of performance during the initial period of the Year Up/VPP relationship.

The investment agreement with Year Up will total $4.5 million over 50 months. In the initial 14 month period, VPP invested $1.4 million. VPP has agreed to continue into the next stage of funding; $1.25 million over the twelve month period ending December 31, 2011.

“We are pleased with how our relationship has developed with Year Up over the past year, particularly with the executive and board leadership in the Year Up NCR” said David Sylvester, the VPP Partner with the primary relationship to Year Up. “We believe that with our joint efforts, we have been able to forge the foundation of a strong and positive relationship with Year Up, both in the NCR and with the national organization.”

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VPP Begins Professional Development Meetings for Investment Partners

Last month, VPP hosted its first Professional Development meeting, which brought together the development staff from investment partners to share a conversation about best practices in fundraising. The group will meet quarterly and host speakers on different topics suggested by its members. Last month, Dick Walker, managing director of Orr Associates Inc. (OAI), led a discussion on how to effectively engage board leadership in fundraising.  

The convening of investment partner development staff was the idea of SEED co-founder Rajiv Vinnakota. The goal is to create an informal network of colleagues to share experiences in fundraising and development, while also learning from experts on specific issues.

“I want to have the opportunity to learn from my colleagues who all have various experiences, but currently work in small development shops,” said Danielle Leahy, Director, Investor Development at VPP, who organized the event. “It’s great to work with people who are in the trenches and have learned to do things in the most effective way possible.”

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VPP Releases LAYC Case Study

Last month, VPP released its fifth investment partner case study on its partnership with the Latin American Youth Center, “Responding to Needs, Measuring Results.” The report details LAYC’s expansion into the Maryland suburbs to better meet the needs of its shifting population, as well as the implementation of an outcomes management system that has become a national model for performance measurement.

You can read the full case study here.

Read the other four case studies here.

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Kathy Williams Joins VPP Team as Administrative Assistant

This month, Kathy Williams joined VPP as an Administrative Assistant for the Investment Practice team. In this position Kathy will work in partnership with various members of the VPP team to execute assignments and projects.

Kathy has over 15 years of administrative experience in nonprofit, federal and private organizations.  She began her career at Lockheed Martin IMS as the Administrative Assistant to the Vice President of DC Municipal Services in 1996.  She was a Facilitator/Trainer for Trained2Perfection in Bowie, MD and has held key roles in several organizations prior to coming to VPP. She comes to VPP most recently from Magnolia Center, a community hospital, where she was a Payroll and Benefits Coordinator.

Kathy graduated from Bowie State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1994.  In 2005 she became a member of Americorp VISTA where she volunteered as a volunteer recruiter for the Guardian ad Litem program.  In this capacity she trained community volunteers as child advocates for neglected and abuse children in Roberson County, North Carolina. 

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VPP Begins New Online “Investor Updates” Feature

This month, VPP began hosting a new feature on its website. The “Investor Update” page will chronicle all of the past and present VPPNews articles on investors and corporate partners in an easily accessible format. Each past article and the investor or investors it features are available in this section, which will be updated as new features are released.

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youthCONNECT Update: Stage III Begins

youthCONNECT logoAfter reviewing detailed proposals from finalists of Stage I of the open competition process, youthCONNECT’s independent review team selected the organizations that will move into the last stage of the open competition process. Of these finalists, 2-4 will be selected to join the youthCONNECT network, funded in part by the Social Innovation Fund. VPP staff will conduct the Stage III processes, which consists of VPP’s formal investment selection due diligence. The final network partners will be announced in early February.

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Investment Partner Updates

Programs and Services

AA Lead logo

AALEAD Celebrates the Winter Season Through Annual Holiday Parties

Thanks to Rick R. Chen, Manager of Development & Communications, for this update.

While December may have brought in the chilly weather, AALEAD brought back the warmth of the season by hosting annual holiday parties for its youth and families in DC and Maryland.

On December 17th,  AALEAD held its DC Holiday party at Asbury United Methodist Church with nearly 150 people in attendance, including students, their families, supporters, volunteers, and staff.  Students had a wonderful time participating in the various holiday craft and game stations while parents enjoyed watching their children perform on stage. At the culmination of the event, Santa made an early appearance, giving gifts to the students. 

Volunteers at AALEAD's New Building
Students engage in festive crafts at AALEAD’s holiday party
Similarly, on Saturday December 11th, AALEAD held its Maryland Holiday Party at the Wheaton Recreation Center. Over 100 people attended the event including students, parents, mentors, and staff. High school students had prepared for this event by creating their own holiday- inspired murals. There were also a number of student performers from Blair High school, Einstein High School, and Loiederman Middle School.
Thanks to the cooperation of AALEAD’s youth working alongside AALEAD staff, both parties were a tremendous success and a great way to end the year.

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CFNC LogoCFNC Children Will Be Warm This Year, Thanks to Employees at Liberty Mutual and Enterprise

Thanks to Manager of Development Anna Berke for this update.

This holiday season, CFNC fully experienced the Northern Virginia Community’s spirit of giving. Its annual coat drive brought smiles to the faces of nearly 200 students.

Local Liberty Mutual Insurance and Enterprise Rent-A-Car employees and friends  partnered up to provide more than 150 new winter coats to CFNC students this year, coats that are a necessity for children and families in the National Capital Region. It was a team effort of the Fairfax, VA and Hunt Valley, MD offices of Liberty Mutual and DC- metro area Enterprise offices, as employees worked together to purchase the proper pre-specified size and color coat for each CFNC student.  Children Recieve Their Coats
Students react as their new coats are revealed

Not satisfied with simply making the purchases, employees from Liberty Mutual and Enterprise took a day off to deliver the coats to CFNC and meet the children who will be kept warm in them this winter.  Rick Watkins, Erin Wood, and Gina Cernak of Liberty Mutual and Lisa Tolbert from Enterprise had a wonderful time getting to know the children and revealing their new winter coats. The children were overjoyed.  Erin Wood noted: “What a great experience today was… It was wonderful.  I’m so glad we got to help CFNC and the preschoolers keep warm this winter!”

CFNC extends a heartfelt thanks to the employees of Liberty Mutual and Enterprise for their extraordinary kindness.  CFNC children will run around and play outside this winter, warm and cozy in their new coats. 

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