How did the daughter of an Irish baker who witnessed two family bankruptcies end up as a champion of entrepreneurship? At Eastside Prep’s TEDx event, SVP Partner Emer Dooley shares a little of her own story, and what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
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.
What if you could take food that would go to waste, dry it, and feed kids in need? Or turn neglected houses into energy-efficient homes? Or sell produce grown on urban rooftops? These are just a few of the ways that this year’s Fast Pitch contenders are improving our community. And they're pitching their ideas in 5 minutes or less!
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.
15 years ago, during a summer much like this one, SVP began. An idea sparked by Paul Brainerd evolved into a network of Partners ready to take their giving beyond the checkbook. That single idea has inspired philanthropists all over the world, and as we kick off our 15th year, we thought it be fun to share a few of the ways we have grown.
Meet SVP Partner and Powerful Schools volunteer - Jennifer Selby, a mother of two who has been a reading tutor for the organization since fall 2011. “Being a Powerful Schools’ tutor was a dream volunteer assignment,” said Jennifer. “The program is so well organized and in two and a half hours I can really make a difference and see the progress in the young students I tutor.”
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.
In January 2005, Paul Gross' son had two brain surgeries to implant a shunt in order to treat the brain condition (Hydrocephalus) he developed from his traumatic birth just two months before. The device had a 50% chance of failure within the first two years. A lack of research and treatment on this critical condition led Paul and his wife to create a foundation that will change the status quo.
Nicole Trimble, SVP Partner and Director of Corporate Responsibility at Coinstar, Inc., was recently honored by the White House for being a "Champion of Change." This program was created in order to honor ordinary Americans who are doing great work in their communities.
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.
After leaving Microsoft in 2000, I knew I wasn't ready to retire and I wanted to find meaningful work that gave me satisfaction. Given how fortunate I was for having worked at Microsoft, I was looking for the right opportunity that would allow me to give back to the community.
Yep, for the second year running, SVP’s own Paul Shoemaker is named one of The NonProfit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50! Joining the ranks of philanthropic leaders like Jeff Skoll, Marion Wright Edelman, and Bill Gates, Paul has been recognized as one of the nonprofit sector’s top executives and thinkers.
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!
“A student who can't read at grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.” This stunning statistic was released in 2011, and is just one of the reasons why Team Read’s work is so important.
By now you’ve probably heard that SVP will have a new home this September, but we also have some other exciting news. This fall, SVP will have a new logo, look and feel that will be shared with SVP affiliates across the globe! With our international network under one unified brand, we will strengthen SVP’s collective presence and amplify our impact.
During the 13 years that Connie Nguyen has worked in nail salons, she's seen numerous friends and co-workers become ill. She, too, has come down with mysterious skin rashes and respiratory problems – and her story is far too common. There are simple ways to reduce risks, but much of that information does not reach the people who need it most. That’s where SVP’s newest Investee, the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle comes in.
Each year the Microsoft Alumni Foundation recognizes Microsoft alumni who dedicate their time, talent, and resources to help address local, national, or global challenges. Can you guess how many of this year’s nominees are connected to SVP?
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.
It's not JUST a new place to work. It’s a new energy and center for connectivity and positive change in our community! SVP is moving down 2nd Ave to co-locate with The HUB Seattle and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute in the historic Masin’s furniture building in Pioneer Square.
The Social Innovation Fast Pitch 2012 competition is underway! Right now, volunteer applicant screeners are viewing and scoring all 70 applications, and 40 social innovators will be announced on July 20th as Quarter Finalists to move on to the next round. Many past Social Innovation Fast Pitch teams have experienced added impact and benefits from their involvement in the Fast Pitch competition last year - we rounded up a couple of their stories to share.
Some people can do math and some people can't? Not anymore. Explorations in Math is building a positive math culture in Puget Sound and now beyond. SVP was a part of that. In this video you'll find out how.
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.
At the intersection of all things social, Will Poole is a ex-Microsoft executive turned social innovator. Founder of the Social Innovation Fast Pitch - now in its second year - and the newly established SVP Bangalore, these are just two of Will's many accomplishments in bringing Seattle to a place at the social innovation table. Eric Liu, host of the Seattle Channel show 'Seattle Voices,' interviewed Will last week about his thoughts on the Seattle social scene.
So, let’s get the "bitter" out of the way first – it’s over. The grant cycle has come to its planned end, and I am being laid off in my job as Lead Partner. I’ll miss being SVP’s representative in working with this great organization and fine people that comprise Explorations in Math. But “it’s over” has some deeper implications for SVP.
My sister turned 21. It was an emotional day. You get a number of those moments in your life where you realize that time is finite. Getting your first grey hair. Your mother stopping to catch her breath on a walk. Seeing your baby sister, whom you taught to ride a tiny bike, become of drinking age. But absolutely worst of all is being mistaken for your father at your sister’s 21st birthday dinner at a Mexican restaurant by her friend who is a waitress there.
It's easy to feel like progress is far out of our reach, especially when times are tough; good news and small-scale successes can be easily forgotten. Continuous progress occurs when we take a hard look at our current state and our unique strengths, and work up from there. Steve Sundquist shares how.
In scarce times, many organizations have had to adapt and innovate in order to survive. For Nguoi Viet Tay Bac (Northwest Vietnamese News), the value of relationships and learning the art of giving and receiving were the keys to their survival.
As scarcity of available resources grows, nonprofits are learning to adapt to new situations while still being able to meet their growing need for services. Ben Klasky, CEO and President of Islandwood, shares the story of how their organization has adapted to times of scarcity - coming out stronger and more courageous.
Lynn Coriano reached out to me about serving as Lead Partner for Friends of the Children in February 2010. I am on the board of the Washington State Mentors, believe strongly in the power of mentoring, and was excited about the opportunity to learn more about Friends of the Children, and how SVP works with its Investees. More than two years later, I have learned a tremendous amount, both about Friends and SVP.
Our annual dinner is finally over, and I have been able to sleep without nightmares for the first time in weeks. The two days before this event found us in the conference room, tired, shabby, and tense. We were there until midnight those days. I came back at 10pm after a late meeting to find the team eating spaghetti, rearranging post-its symbolizing tables and tackling other issues as they arose. They always arose. We were preparing for battle.
With most volunteer opportunities, you go in, do your thing, and leave. Although you help the organization in some small, or even big, way, you don’t create any real connections. And those connections – an “MVO” (Meaningful Volunteer Opportunity) – are what I was looking for when I decided to become a Lead Partner for Denise Louie Education Center (DLEC).
'Adaptation in Scarce Times' was the theme of our latest Spring Meeting, held this Tuesday at the Georgetown Ballroom - but our attendance represented anything but scarcity! Thanks to EVERYONE who came and continues to support SVP. Here it is: the Spring Meeting by the numbers.
Each year, Social Venture Kids chooses an issue prevalent in the Seattle community to tackle. This year's focus is on hunger, as the number of families going hungry in Washington has greatly increased. With that in mind, SVK has recently chosen its grant recipients for 2012.
As the director of a small nonprofit, I live in a constant state of fear, one that is thankfully broken by occasional moments of terror. Recently these moments of terror come in the form of asking people to give money to VFA, since our annual dinner is coming up next week.
Last week Philanthropy Northwest co-sponsored Reflections on Philanthropy: The Intersection of Technology, Innovation, and Philanthropy. Along with our fellow sponsors, the UW Evans School, Social Venture Partners, and Washington Women’s Foundation, we were excited to host Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, author of Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World.
About a year ago, as I wrote about Collective Impact, I raised the question of whether SVP was encouraging competition or collaboration. Where are we now?
There are so many questions when a parent discovers that their child has special needs, the most pressing of which is: "Where do I go for services for my child?" Since 1979, Dynamic Partners has provided a simple answer for King and Pierce County families through great services and an unusual model.
In our March newsletter we profiled an Investee with whom we are in our 5th year. That story prompted a long-time Partner and super-volunteer, John Fine, to write back...
Last month, 13 Executive Directors got together, and the topic of ED-to-ED interaction came up. So, in a mostly sober state, we hammered out a list of common Executive Director etiquette, aka "EDiquette.” Here they are, in no particular order...