“SVP is such a different model than anything I’ve ever seen. SVP is an extension of our staff team…not just consultants, not just volunteers, but people who are in the thick of it with us.”
Colby Swettberg, Executive Director, Silver Lining Mentoring
Silver Lining Mentoring became an SVP Grantee in June 2014. Tell us a little about the first 6 months.
The SVP engagement has exceeded my wildest dreams of what could be possible! Going into this relationship it’s hard to know how much value (and how much extra work) to expect. From the beginning we’ve felt like our SVP Partners are an extension of our staff team. This group doesn’t just brainstorm and come up with good ideas. After the brainstorming dust settles, SVP goes off, does great work, and then brings it back and says to us, “What do you think?”
We started the engagement developing an in-depth work plan. We have regular check-ins to make sure we’re progressing and to see how we feel about the data, the recommendations, and the changes. It’s gone a long way to building trust and the relationship early and fast.
One of the team’s first projects was interviewing our program staff and management team, and the data they came back with was unbelievable. Our staff spends a good deal more of their time providing intensive case management support to our older youth than we tend to account for. We know it’s an important piece of our programming that makes a real difference to our young people, so we are now thinking about how we can be more deliberate about it, how we talk about it internally and externally, and how we measure it.
SVP is helping us develop a new tool that we’re currently calling the Flight Plan: it will provide Silver Lining a way of proactively tracking how our youth progress along a continuum of soft and hard skills including resiliency, self-efficacy, employment, etc. It will allow us to reflect back on our organization’s impact on our population.
We’re also taking a deeper look at our intake process given our portfolio of services. We’re identifying all the supports we can wrap around a young person, which services should come from our social workers versus our other staff, when we need to triage, etc.
After working through some of these pieces, we’ll move on to our business planning, which will take us through summer of 2015.
What would you tell a prospective Grantee about working with SVP?
Human capital is one of the most important parts of any nonprofit, and getting the right people to do the work is critical to doing the work well. With SVP you have major talent in place that is not only smart and interested, but also passionate about digging deep. This is a long-term investment. You get the sense from SVP that they are in it to win it with you.
SVP is such a different model than anything I’ve ever seen. SVP is an extension of our staff team…not just consultants, not just volunteers, but people who are in the thick of it with us, thinking and working every day on how we can create greater impact for youth in foster care.