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Community Impact Spotlight: Metropolitan Family Service

Posted by Sagarika Ravishankar

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Metropolitan Family Service (MFS) mission is to help people move beyond the limitations of poverty and inequity by delivering proven programs to help people succeed at home, at school, and in the community. MFS focuses its work and expertise on three critical community initiatives:

  • Strengthening early childhood development and building youth success through collaboration and innovation
  • Developing and promoting effective approaches to community-based health and wellness throughout life
  • Advancing the economic well-being of individuals and families

SVP’s Partnership with MFS began April 2016. The focus of our partnership is to collaboratively develop a business plan to scale their early childhood program: “Ready, Set, Go!” (RSG). RSG is a bilingual (Spanish/English) parent-child early learning program that offers avenues for healthy child development and kindergarten readiness. When we invested, there were two sites serving approximately 100 children and their parents. Currently, the Ready, Set, Go! program has expanded to two new sites and has the capacity to serve  180 children and their parents in the North Clackamas and David Douglas School Districts.


We know that Ready, Set, Go! is effective. Program evaluations have already demonstrated these outcomes:

  •      Children receiving intervention show significantly better social and emotional readiness when entering kindergarten.
  •      RSG children perform significantly behind kindergarten peers in literacy at kindergarten entry but surpass those same peers by 4th grade.
  •      Its service product is clearly defined, combined with a competitive cost structure per child.

In 2015-2016, SVP supported MFS  to participate in Project Impact in order to both prove and improve the program’s impact. The quantitative and qualitative evaluation found that parenting classes are powerful because they play a vital role towards creating stronger family units and more engaged parents. Ready, Set, Go! serves the whole family, providing on-site parenting classes that allow families to start feeling confident. It also found that “School Readiness is Social Readiness, and School Readiness is Life Readiness” (Project Impact, 2015). Through the program, students learn how to self-regulate and follow school routines, have peer-interaction experience, have confidence in a classroom setting, and are comfortable being away from their parents. This allows teachers to focus on their lessons instead of behavior management.

Other key findings included parents embracing their roles as their children’s first teacher and parents who are empowered to participate in their children’s schools and effect positive change because of the work that Ready, Set, Go! is doing.


In early 2016, MFS asked to engage with SVP to help the organization expand its Ready, Set, Go! program within the greater Portland area. Over a two year period, SVP invested $45,000 as well as the time and expertise of SVP Partners to work in partnership with MFS to create a business plan for scaling the program. During the first year of our investment with MFS, we began developing the strategic growth vision for Ready, Set, Go!, including a funding strategy; assess the current landscape for early learning programs in order to identify best practices, readiness, and partnership opportunities; a scaling plan for RSG; and began exploring system and infrastructure needs for the program to scale.

Lead Partner Dani Kerrigan, Lead Strategic Advisors Larry Fox and Courtney Campbell, Partner Frank Reppenhagen, and former Encore Fellow Rod Macdow did terrific work with MFS in the first year of our investment to accomplish partnership goals. In the second year, we are focusing our work to address sustainable, long-term funding, building the strength and brand of the model, and extending market penetration in the school districts MFS has already engaged. In addition, we will be working to complete the business plan. MFS plans to extend Ready, Set, Go! To serve at least 300 children in the 2017-2018 school year. We intend to complete the business plan and continue exploring partnerships with local, culturally specific programs and assist in solidifying a sustainable funding base for RSG. This will allow them to expand their reach in the community, contributing to the Ready for Kindergarten Goal.


For our 2016-2018 Partnership with MFS, we invested $25,000 in the first year and $20,000 in the second, bringing the total financial investment to $45,000. Since investing in MFS, we have leveraged $1,177,399 and provided 319 volunteer hours and 2,160 Encore Fellows hours.

The first year of our Partnership has led to increased capacity within the organization, which assisted them in increasing the number of schools served, and the number of children enrolled. Lead Partner Dani Kerrigan said: “The RSG program team has strong early childhood expertise and cultural awareness, and has shown that they are well connected in the community. Their program gets results, and they have the data to prove it.” We are proud of the progress we have made together in our partnership with MFS so far. We also can’t wait to read the next chapter, as we are confident they are poised to impact children and families on a much larger scale in our community!


A note:

  • This is not our first investment with MFS, but it is the first time we’ve strategically Partnered with them since we established our Ready for Kindergarten Goal. We previously funded them for a Project Impact study for a total of $8,500 and a multi-faceted investment from 2002-2005 in launching their Make Parenting a Pleasure program.

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