Point of Vu
Vu Le chronicles the life of a nonprofit executive director – the good, the bad, and the ridiculous.
What makes a person a Superhero for Washington Families? ParentMap Magazine recently awarded ten individuals this distinguished honor for their work in education, and three of these honorees are SVP Partners! In the final Part III of this series, Bill Henningsgaard takes the award of Change-Maker.
ParentMap Magazine recently honored ten distinguished individuals as 2013 Superheroes for Washington Families, and three of those honorees are SVP Partners! In Part II of this series, we introduce Mimi Siegel, the Executive Director of Kindering and winner of the Humanitarian award.
What motivates a person toward selfless action? In their quest for answers, ParentMap found several outstanding individuals who have made a significant change in the lives of families and children residing in Washington State - and three of them are SVP Partners! In Part I of this series, meet the Advocate: Janice Deguchi, Executive Director of the Denise Louie Education Center.
Although SVP Seattle has been around for fifteen years, there is so much more room to grow. Paul Shoemaker shares his vision for SVP's future, and why we're just now at the tip-off point. Game on.
SVP started out as Paul Brainerd's idea. Now, that idea has become a global phenomenon that has, for the past 15 years, transformed individuals and communities across the globe. The goal? That this idea will take root in 200 of the world's largest cities by 2025.
SVP's entrepreneurial spirit has done it again - flown across the ocean 8,000 miles away and implanted a small idea in the heart of Bangalore, India. The Managing Partner of SVP India, Arathi Laxman, explains how India, a nation of many contrasts and contradictions, has a great need for SVP's presence, and how true impact can be achieved through a collective voice.
Powerful Schools, one of our first Investees to be reinvested in by SVP, has grown exponentially in the last five years. From providing their programs to 1,000 students, they have grown to helping 4,000 students in over 18 schools and after-school programs. Here, Executive Director Tre' Maxie talks about the importance of going "under the hood" at SVP's 15th Anniversary.
"If you see a gun, don't touch it, even to throw it in the garbage. Run and tell an adult in your house. It's their job to keep you safe." Looking through my camera at the circle of rapt 4-year-olds at Denise Louie Education Center (DLEC) on Beacon Hill, I realized yet again how much we ask of our preschools.
SVP Partner Susan Bloch is an international business coach who has worked with business leaders in a variety of industries for over 25 years. The most noticeable parallel between all of them? The lack of women who sit on the boards of these companies. This is her argument for remedying this "blind spot."
This week, I was asked to speak on a panel to a bunch of social work students on working with refugee and immigrant clients. Panels are like the lunch buffet of information sharing. It is a group of people with knowledge of a certain topic, asked to speak together with the hope that at least one of them will say something interesting. It is a great idea for our attention-deficient culture, but it is often poorly executed, oftentimes due to the panelists themselves.
Every once in a while, someone will criticize SVP or me for not having a little more fun or taking the time to celebrate along the way. They are right, and if you were there Saturday night, are you satisfied for a while now?! :-) We celebrated our 15th anniversary, filling MOHAI. It was a lot of fun, and two things stood out for me.
As a soon-to-be father and an ED planning an annual event, both of which will be occurring roughly around the same time, a "terrified" Vu Le is asking which event could be deemed scarier. An objective analysis on several dimensions is required to determine the answer.
We already have a good idea of what needs to be done to create large-scale change. We also already have the funding to create that impact. So, what's missing? In his TEDxBGI talk, Paul Shoemaker shares why we need the big (bad?) corporations to make things happen.
You may have caught last December’s film “The Impossible.” But do you know which SVP Partner explored the untold story? What happens to local communities after disaster strikes, after the cameras and donors have come and gone? His short film got a shout out in Vanity Fair and from director Juan Antonio Bayona.
Over the past few weeks, I have reflected a lot about the lessons learned these last seven years at SVP. A stack of 5x7 notecards sits on my desk capturing phrases of what I’m taking with me. But in the end, it boils down to one key concept – and it’s what I learned when things got really hard for me. When I was feeling “one down” among people who had once felt like my peers.
“If you are ever discouraged or pessimistic, seeing what goes on at the grassroots level will give you hope. Policies, politics, practices and poor funding are major obstacles but passionate, compassionate people are working miracles.” SVP Partner Preston Thompson pretty much says it all. Find out who we met and what we learned during our visit with Team Read at Gatzert Elementary.
This is the last in a series of blog posts by SVP Partner Linda Wagener, principal of Marigold Associates. In this installment, Linda tackles the problem of forming children’s attitudes toward money and work, values rarely shaped simply by education. They are rooted in the basic practices and habits of family life.
Kids typically don’t pick up basic life skills through osmosis. They have to be taught how to clean a bathroom, check the oil in their car, and manage their money. In this second installment of three blog posts, SVP Partner Linda Wagener explains how a good financial education can provide a wonderful foundation for your child as he/she learns to manage wealth on his/her own.
Financial wealth can have a profound impact on individuals and families, and most importantly for parents, the use of their wealth can have unintended impacts on their children. SVP Partner Linda Wagener, principal of Marigold Associates, has put together this series of three blog posts as an introduction to parents about the potential impact of wealth and ways to mitigate those impacts. First up: what parents need to know.
It's easy to understand how wealth makes life easier, but just how does it make life more difficult? SVP Partner Linda Wagener discusses her experience working with highly successful clients through her firm, Marigold Associates, in this series of blog posts.
Today’s post explores how we can use feng shui, which means “wind water,” to optimize the energy in our work space, not just so that we feel good while at work, but also so that our space attracts funding for our organizations. Now, I do not claim to be a feng shui expert, so keep that in mind while you read the tips below. If it makes you feel better, I did do some light Googling during commercials of Iron Chef while writing this post.
The term “cultural competency” has been thrown around a lot. For instance: “We must be more culturally competent in our outreach efforts in order to synergistically shift the paradigm for collective impact.” And also: “Stop being so culturally incompetent! In many cultures, staff are expected to make the Executive Director a mango lemonade while he naps!”
On Friday night of our SVP Conference, we sat and listened to the aspirations and dreams of the SVP founders in India and China-to-be. It was stimulating, very exciting, and … just a little bit overwhelming. If you’d have heard them, you’d think they were sort of channeling that evening in 1997. They really “get it,” even though they are halfway around the world, living in cultures and countries very different from North America.
First, there was Black Friday. Then, encouraged by the popularity of online shopping, came Cyber Monday. Now, there's Giving Tuesday, the giving season's opening day. Have you heard about it?
In a sector that often makes us feel frustrated and facing numerous challenges, there are quite a lot of blessings that we might find ourselves overlooking from time to time. But with Thanksgiving around the corner, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on all the things we should be grateful for, from little things like being thankful for family and friends to big things like engaging in meaningful work.
The time to get started on getting things done is now. SVP Partner Jay Leon shares some of his favorite takeaways from SVPI's Audacious Philanthropy conference in Portland, as well as some of his own thoughts on education in the USA.
October 26, 2012 marked the official grand opening of a new epicenter for social impact. Social Venture Partners (SVP), Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI), and the HUB Seattle have teamed up to launch a new space for innovation, sustainability and social good in the heart of downtown Seattle.
No hyperbole, our Grand Opening was one of the most unique, exhilarating evenings in my career. In my brief remarks, I offered up the idea that this is not so much a place with an address, but a space with an aspiration for positive change.
Each summer, I take a weekend camping trip with one (or more) of my sons. Just so you know, it’s classic open-the-back-of-the-SUV camping, but it’s still a great experience to get out in the wild and open air with my guys. Last year, I used a reflection from that to draw an analogy to our approach to capacity building with non-profits. Something different stuck with me this year.
Measuring outcomes is a key element in finding out whether all our investments (i.e. time, money, and effort) are paying off. It's also a great way to help us see what areas need improvement and possibly even how to improve them. But from the perspective of nonprofit staff, there is a big difference between the abstract idea of measuring outcomes and the actual experience of being measured.
SVP Seattle's Social Innovation Fast Pitch 2012 is just a few days away! The award pool has rocketed up to $230,000, and we have some very special guest appearances lined up. Check out what's in store and get your tickets today!
As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I could smell the curries. The warm and humid air thickening their intensity. My second trip to India was about to begin. Instead of simply being a tourist, I was joining my husband Will to help start Social Venture Partners in Bangalore.
I got invited to the White House Forum on Philanthropy Innovation last week. Pretty cool opportunity. Just thought I’d share a couple reflections – It reaffirms that there are people all over this country (and world) giving their lives and everything they’ve got to help making the world a better place for everyone.
For the next two weeks, the SVP staff is “homeless” while we wait to move into our new digs with BGI and the HUB. The potential is awesome, but right now … oh boy. More than once I’ve asked myself the question – so whose great idea was this in the first place?? (Don’t answer that.) I need to remind myself WHY we are moving and hope like heck we get it right.
In a month, on November 2nd, we’ll be having World Dance Party, a giant multicultural dance party and potluck. It’s free and usually draws over 200 people of all ages and backgrounds. Of all the projects VFA takes on, this one is unique. There is no fundraising, no programming. No one will present on cultural competency. There will be no surveys or focus groups. No one will be asked to put dots on a flip chart. People will eat and dance. That’s it.
The amount of paper we use as a sector is pretty embarrassing. We print out everything, and for certain occasions, such as monthly board meetings, entire forests are destroyed in terms of agenda, minutes, budget reports, draft grant proposals, strategic plans, baby pictures, recipe cards, etc. Sometimes I see those emails that say “Please think about the environment before printing out this email.” Emails, however, are about the only things we do not print out. We must stop the madness!
As we grapple with how to close the achievement gap for low-income children of color now, we should start thinking about how education will look in Washington state in 50 years. Left unchecked, this gap will become a giant chasm as our country's demographics and economics change dramatically.
In the past few years, the concept of Collective Impact has covered lots of ground, with great results. Concerted efforts can kick some serious butts and do it more sustainably too. However, like taking naps at work, Collective Impact should be done strategically and sometimes not at all.
"That blew my mind. I had no idea that rich people actually cared about poor people, about their community. I had no idea that something like SVP existed.” Those words came from Year Up student, Irving Severino after our last Spring Meeting. I couldn’t get them out of my head. A few days later decided I had to go have a cup of coffee with Irving and try to better understand.
In 2010, Bill Henningsgaard was shocked to learn that the kids in their communities were considerably lacking in resources and that the poverty level in the Eastside neighborhoods, which he thought were affluent, was rising. The battle to overcome the kids' socio-economic disadvantages wasn't going well. It was time to put the idea of Collective Impact to use.
After several months, I was able to meet with Ted, Luke's multi-millionnaire friend. It had taken a while to arrange this meeting, and the coordination was done through Ted’s assistant, leaving me to conjure up the image of Ted as an elusive genius, like Batman inside his Bat Cave devising plans and building awesome gadgets to combat injustice.
Executive Directors are problem solvers. That's why we get paid the big bucks. But why keep it to just nonprofit problems? We would make great advice columnists!
In 2007, SVP launched an ambitious 5-year strategic plan. In 2008, the country sank into a recession. Plans had to be put on hold as we grappled with the new landscape. Today, we know we need a plan that leaves us focused, but ready to adapt. So we’re trying something different.
"Partnerships...are the glue that is going to help our education system change," shares Trish Millines Dziko. As the Founder and CEO of Technology Access Foundation, she witnessed many kids of color coming into their internship program unprepared – so she decided to work within the classroom instead of around it.
When the economy bottomed out, most nonprofits didn't necessarily know how to deal with the new environment. The game had changed and there were no instructions or directions to help find a way to survive.
In times of scarcity, it's not only nonprofits who lack resources. The city of Portland discovered that there is only one book per 300 children in poor neighborhoods, and even worse, 1 out of 3 children are unprepared for kindergarten. Mark Holloway, Executive Director of SVP Portland, shares how SVP and their partners lined up to tackle this problem of scarcity.
I think there are several reasons for EDs to take long vacations. First, it is a stressful job, and we need time to recharge and de-agify. Second, it is good to put some distance in order to get a clearer perspective on work. And third, it’s a good test for staff in working together to solve problems, and a good leadership experience for whomever is in charge while we’re gone. Still, it is not as simple as most people think.
In this field, we receive bad news from funders and donors as often as people get eaten by zombies on the Walking Dead, which is pretty often (by the way, if you are running into a trailer to escape a zombie attack, it is a good idea to close the door behind you. Jimmy, you exquisite fool!).
How are donors perceived at your organization? This question, raised at a recent SVP workshop, gave me pause. At first I thought, what’s not to like about donors? They provide the funding to allow nonprofits to take action. Right? Maybe when some people think about donors, they think about reality TV “rich people,” like the Kardashians or the Real Housewives. Surely, real donors aren’t as wacky as that. Then, I remembered one particular donor visit.
Building an Early Learning system is a lot like building a family. Molly Boyajian, Director of Policy and Community Partnerships at Thrive By Five, shares a bit about her own upbringing, and how it relates to adaptations in the early learning community.