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Launching SVP’s Newest Grantee with a Roar

Posted by boston

There’s much that goes into a successful SVP Boston/Grantee relationship: our rigorous due diligence process; our relationship building with a Grantee’s Executive Director, Board, and staff; our thoughtful “matchmaking” of SVP Partner skills with Grantee projects.

Another key component of a successful relationship? SVP’s Tiger Team. Over the last year, we have begun codifying our Tiger Team work: a team of three to four Partners that launches a new Grantee and develops the workplan and vision for our three-year engagement.

Two of My Life My Choice’s Tiger Team members, Rich Croak and Steve Kenney, chatted with us about the team’s work over the last few months. Much like the proverb that says, “there’s no off switch on a tiger,” there’s no off switch on our Tiger Team either – making great progress in a few short months.

My Life My Choice (MLMC) Tiger Team

Rich Croak, Don Hawley, Steve Kenney

What has been the work of the Tiger Team so far?

We set out our goals in the introductory meeting. Over the first six months, we will get to know each other, learn as much as we can about MLMC and its core business, and develop a workplan for the next year and vision for the next three.

MLMC has four major service lines, and we’ve been diving deep into each one in order.

  • Curriculum training
  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Prevention groups
  • Advocacy

We have returned several times to the MLMC proposal to be true to what they originally identified as areas for SVP help. MLMC’s opportunities for growth will be a key focus area going forward. We are also identifying how MLMC can more efficiently use their resources through workflow changes and enhancing their use of JRI, MLMC holding company. Once we’ve delved into each service line, we will come up with program scenarios and alternative delivery options for each line of business.

How will you come up with those “scenarios”?

We are currently gathering a vast amount of data from MLMC: data on finance, operations, human resources, program evaluation, performance metrics, and market research.

From all this data, we will build a quantitative model of MLMC’s services to help with “what if” or trade-off decision making around where to commit resources. Using training as an example, we will determine: the ROI for training, staffing requirements, tradeoffs MLMC must make when staff is allocated to training, training revenue and expense.

Naturally, the operational realities will be considered in conjunction with program impact, so that MLMC can make smart choices in each of their service lines in a way that deepens their impact.

Have you discovered any areas where SVP could help make an early difference?

MLMC has embraced SVP as a sounding board from Day 1. In fact, in our first meeting, Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, Executive Director, asked us to join a conversation she was having later that week about billing. We attended and offered some advice when the opportunity presented itself. The end result was a fairly straightforward and cost-effective outsourcing solution.

We would have addressed billing later in the year, but making a positive impact in our first month created an early win and was a great way to start.

This is a team effort. Why is that important?

There is real strength in having multiple perspectives and real value in our different backgrounds. We hear different things. We ask different questions. We come up with different solutions.

Don Hawley, for example, has been on Tiger Teams before and has a long career in consulting. He understands and can conceptualize how an organization works; he’s a big picture person who can listen to a conversation and distill it down to: “Ok, what we’re talking about is an HR issue, or finance, or program.” That skill is extremely valuable.

The Investment Committee did a great job of learning about MLMC and getting to know the organization’s strengths and needs through the investment cycle. But there’s still so much to learn and so much information to sift through that the team approach has been critical to our work.

What’s been the most enjoyable part of your work to date?

Working with Lisa, Audrey Morrissey (Associate Director), and the entire MLMC team has been fantastic. There’s a real openness that is a big part of the organizational culture, and that starts with Lisa’s leadership. “We know we are doing good work, and we want to do better.”

What has been an unexpected learning from your work to date?

From the beginning, Don really encouraged us to “spread out” in order to engage a wide range of MLMC stakeholders. We’ve attended Board and staff meetings. We’ll be meeting with the BU/Northeastern evaluation team in the coming weeks, which should give us a wealth of information on MLMC’s program impact. Being introduced to the broader MLMC community has provided us with unanticipated opportunities to learn and add value.

We also attended MLMC’s awareness training for social workers and youth counselors. It was incredibly eye-opening: the grittiness of this topic and the powerful, authentic nature of the trainings being survivor-led. It helped us understand the problem better – the raw and tragic nature of it as well as the positive and hopeful spirit with which the organization approaches the issue – and how we might help them even more.