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Videos & Stories

SVP works with stellar individuals and nonprofits that are making our world a better place.  We are honored to be their accomplice.  Here are some of their stories.

Meet SVP

What change do you want to see in our world? What role will you play? Who will you share it with? These are some of the questions SVP Partners tackle around the world, embarking on a journey that goes well beyond philanthropy. Meet a few of them in this brief video, and find out what SVP is all about!

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How It All Started

It was 1994, and Paul Brainerd was out of a job. He had just sold his software company, Aldus Corporation to Adobe. PageMaker, the desktop publishing program his company created, had revolutionized printing and publishing – and left him an unexpected millionaire.

At 47, early retirement might have looked attractive to some, but Paul had other ideas.

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Activating Open Spaces with Community

When I first became involved with Cheasty Greenspace in 2014, I was swept up in the movement. Rainy Saturday after rainy Saturday, I joined a community work team to remove invasive species and restore native plants. I built friendships with leaders and participants. We celebrated when we were approved for a $100,000 grant. But what I didn’t realize was not everyone in the community was bought in to the project. A lesson I will not soon forget.

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Finding a Place Under the Big Tent

Jane Harvey and her husband Charlie joined SVP in 2011. But it wasn’t until 2013, the first year of the Northwest Conservation Philanthropy Fellowship, that she set out on what would become a philanthropic journey to say the least. It would lead her to become an early supporter of Front and Centered and a devoted advocate for environmental justice in Washington.

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“Speak English And —”

Peggy’s work helping families nurture their home language is just one outcropping of a growing partnership between OneAmerica and Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC). SVP has supported the two organizations through the Education Collective Action Team (EduCAT) over the last two years. And, in more than one way, the two have gone from complementary to a single force.

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Investing in the “Business” of Team Read

“It was as fundamental as survival for the organization,” says Team Read Executive Director Maureen Massey. “If we hadn’t done the capacity work that we did with SVP, Team Read wouldn’t be able to look forward in the way that we’re able to look forward now.”

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A Healthy Environment Speaks All Languages

Sophorn Sim’s living room was packed. Children sprawled out on the rug and every couch cushion and chair was filled as the group faced the projector screen. It read: “How many of you recycle more since the last presentation?” Sophorn translated in Cambodian, and more than half the room raised their hands.

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Capturing Joy

Lisa got the call at 10:30 on a warm July night. Sara was in labor. Caught off-guard, Lisa panicked slightly. She had been out for drinks with friends and didn’t feel safe driving to the hospital. Luckily, the woman on the other end of the line assured her the birth was hours off. Heading straight home, Lisa packed her gear. Tomorrow would be a first.

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Building Capacity Builders, Part 1: The Grantmaker

Nonprofit finance is already like swimming against the current. Once more, the recession and its aftermath profoundly affected the sector. With scarcer resources, organizations were living closer to the bone and the margin for error was thinner than ever. As capacity builders, we had to ask ourselves, Where were we falling short? And how we can do better?

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Building Capacity Builders, Part 2: The Investee

When SVP approached Open Arms about going through a financial assessment, the organization was months away from a leadership transition and had lost two major funding sources in the past few years. What they were enduring was an uphill battle, the kind of hurdles most nonprofits their size face. Today, the assessment provides a roadmap to help them navigate the challenges — and opportunities.

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Building Capacity Builders, Part 3: The Philanthropist

Up until five years ago, Tanya Anderson’s definition of ‘philanthropy’ was straight forward: to give money. It might have been her career in finance that had something to do with it. After working with the Finance Community of Practice, though, developing an assessment that greatly simplifies financial management for SVP Investees, she had a change of heart.

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Project Feast: The Secret Ingredient is Purpose

In 2012, Veena Prasad had an idea: to use food heritage as a way for refugees and immigrants to begin a new chapter in their lives. She didn’t make it past the SVP Fast Pitch quarterfinals at the time, but in pitching the concept, Veena came face-to-face with a deeper need in her life. A year later, Project Feast was no longer just an idea. This time, it went all the way to the finals – and won.

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Growing From the Core: 5 Years with College Access Now

When College Access Now (CAN) first applied for an SVP grant, no one could have predicted how the organization would evolve. Now in their final year as an Investee, CAN has worked with SVP Partners on everything from strategic planning to building a portfolio of photos that captures the depth of their story and diversity of the communities they serve. The growth they’ve experienced as a result is dramatic.

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Step into Denise Louie's Classroom

"What makes Denise Louie very special is its focus on multi-cultural education," says board member Joan Duffel. "This organization says to kids, 'your home language, your family is important.'" Step into a classroom at the Denise Louie Education Center to see how their unique program helps kids get a great start in school and learn how SVP fits in.

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More than a website: SVP Partners help tell Team Read's story

“I wanted to do something that was really using my talents,” says SVP Partner Sandra Andrews. “And I literally raised my hand and said ‘is there a project I can be part of?’ And this one came up that was a really great fit.” Hear how Sandra and Team Read Executive Director Maureen Massey leveraged SVP to help tell Team Read’s story through the web.

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Keeping Great Crew on Board: SVP Partner Lends her Skills to Summer Search

A few years ago, Summer Search was struggling with staff retention and they were concerned about the impact it was having on the students they serve. Mentorship is core to their program and turnover interrupted the relationships between students and staff, not to mention the general productivity loss associated with churn. They wanted to change this and reached out to SVP for help. Two years later, they are still reaping the benefits of a single volunteer project.

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North Star found: SVP Partner brings strategic planning skills to Northwest SEED

“I just feel like we have the North Star we’ve been needing and we’re moving together in concert,” says Northwest SEED Executive Director Jennifer Grove. In this short video, Jennifer shares how SVP Partner Tim Schottman guided her organization through strategic planning, turning the overflowing number of opportunities at their fingertips into attainable goals.

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Speaking transit: SVP Partner brings White House marketing savvy to TCC

"She approached the problem like she was handling an Obama administration issue,” says Transportation Choices Coalition Executive Director, Shefali Ranganathan. “It was the same level of commitment.” Shefali is referring to SVP Partner, Racquel Russell who volunteered to help TCC hone their communications. Hear about their work together in this short video!

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What’s Democracy Got to Do with It?

David Bangs was all-in on the environment. His experience on SVP’s grant committee inspired more than a decade of giving and angel investing. Then in 2013, David joined the first cohort of SVP's Northwest Conservation Philanthropy Fellows to deepen his impact. What he discovered next surprised him.

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From Pumpkin to Chariot: The Tale of a Nonprofit Website

Team Read's website was old. Really old. "Before giving people our web address, I used to tell them please, don’t judge the quality of our programs by the quality of our website," explains Executive Director, Maureen Massey. What was a solid site in 2008, now looked woefully outdated and it was getting in the way of Team Read’s fundraising and growth.

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Better Tracking = More Kids Thriving

Developing an organizational dashboard may sound technical and dull to some, but not to those of us at SVP! Particularly when such a tool helps Children’s Therapy Center ensure more kids with special needs thrive in life.

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Reflections on Privilege

Race, poverty, privilege, oppression, identity … these concepts have been swirling in my head since I participated in SVP’s Equity Matters Series. It brought up painful childhood memories, many of which were connected to growing up poor. But it also challenged me to reflect on the privilege I experienced as well.

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More Money, More Time, More Energy Channeled for Good

$335 billion dollars. That’s how much was given to charitable causes in the United States in 2013. Roughly three-quarters of that came from individual donors – which is why SVP’s work matters. Through education, collective grantmaking, and strategic volunteerism, SVP strives to cultivate increasingly savvy, generous, and engaged philanthropists. Every two years, we evaluate our progress.

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Navigating the Transit Rollercoaster

Dozens of bus routes poised for a dramatic drop. A startling 180 degree flip from preserving to expanding service. And then … a final surge of yes votes in November. Find out how a mapping project helped Transportation Choices Coalition and their partners navigate last year's harrowing ride to secure transit for all.

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Learning to Soar

"I was trying so hard to be invisible ... I was just the quiet kid in the back -- always."

Regina shares her journey and how Summer Search helped her break out of her shell. Find out more below and learn how SVP partnered with Summer Search to strengthen their organization and DOUBLE the number of students they serve.

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Lisa Lisa & College Jam

Okay, I’m totally dating myself (and subjecting you to bad puns), but I can’t help it. Whenever Lisa Bontje and Lisa Merrill are on a photo shoot, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam just pops into my head! And while SOME of you might debate the brilliance of 80’s gems like “Lost in Emotion” and “Head to Toe,” you simply cannot miss the vibrancy of the students captured by Lisa and Lisa in a photo shoot with College Access Now!

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Changing the Odds for Kids

Discover how SVP Investees are knocking down barriers for kids in our community in this 3 minute video! It features the great work of our graduating Investees Powerful Schools, Vietnamese Friendship Association, Thrive by Five Washington, Summer Search and Communities In Schools of Washington.

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Out of the Tunnel

“Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised,” says John O’Halloran. “But I was.”

John drove by Bailey Gatzert Elementary for decades. He worked for the Aldus Corporation, which had offices on the Seattle waterfront. His commute took him down Yesler Way, but in those days it was like driving in a tunnel – he was so focused on work.

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Mike Cadigan Uses His Skills for Good

Mike Cadigan and his wife Kathy frequently gave to their church, but with three children and business to run, there was little time to volunteer, let alone figure out a strategic giving plan. Then about three years ago, Mike decided to step back from the day-to-day operations of his company and try something different.

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Behind the Lens at Denise Louie

"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, I realized yet again how much we ask of our preschools.

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Protecting Our Natural Heritage from Mountains to Sound

The Mountains to Sound Greenway is a special place. Evergreen trees still blanket the hillsides and valleys. The air is still fresh; the water is still clean. Cougars still pad through deep woods. Even though millions of people live here, in the hundred miles from Seattle to Ellensburg, these things remain true.

How? Not by accident.

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Cure for Violence

What if you had a way to end youth violence, but didn’t have the time or the skills to share your idea? What if you knew how to market an idea, but hadn’t found a meaningful use for that talent?

These are not hypothetical questions. We all have a role in ending the disease of violence. Find out what role SVP plays.

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Giving Back: 12,000 Hours and Counting

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.

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Making "I Can't Do Math" a Thing of the Past

Some people can do math and some people can't? Not anymore. Explorations in Math (now Zeno Math) is building a positive math culture in Puget Sound and now beyond.

SVP was a part of that. Find out how.

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Right On the Cusp

Friends of the Children supports our community's most vulnerable youth. Hear their stories and find out what role SVP plays in their work.

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Finding the Right Words

Executive Director, Deidre Martin McCormack is a passionate advocate for Summer Search’s mission, but last year she found herself frustrated by its lack of visibility. Very few people had heard the name Summer Search, and even if they had, they didn’t really know what the organization was about.

That’s where SVP volunteer Sam Neukom came in.

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Beyond the Funding with Facing the Future

“The first and second time we applied for an SVP grant, I highlighted all the great things we were doing because that is what we thought potential funders wanted to hear,” states Wendy Church, the Executive Director of Facing the Future. “And we got nowhere.”

“SVP talks about their open, honest relationships and their desire to help nonprofits build capacity. So on the third try … our grant proposal started with one full page of all—and I mean all—the things we needed to fix, change or drop—no successes really, just challenges.”

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SVP Watercooler

Wondering what folks have to say about their experience with Social Venture Partners, but don't have much time? Check out these one-minute snippets from SVP Partners, Investees and volunteers!

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I Have the Right

Taped to the back cover of her neon pink binder, the Dating Rules and Responsibilities are in plain sight for her classmates to see. They serve as a sense of armor, protecting Michelle. Classmates often stop and ask, “Hey what’s up with that? What do those mean?”

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Glass Fish and a Fire Truck

For twelve years Mike Stewart walked by the office Judi Moore, the Executive Director of Boyer Children's Clinic. Sometimes they would chat about a family Mike had just met, parents filled with anxiety having just discovered their baby had special needs. Other times they brainstormed for an upcoming event or celebrated the first steps of a two year-old girl whose parents feared would never walk.

For Mike, it was almost impossible to imagine a day when he wouldn't be able to do just that. Sadly, and much too soon, he discovered what that day looked like.

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Saturdays Aren’t Just for Cartoons Anymore

A dozen families. Three days. One shared purpose. Armed with a video camera, and alternately: a hairnet, a rain coat, and a pot of soup, we trailed SVP's youngest volunteers.

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Youth on a Mission

It’s Sunday night. The Sullivan’s basement rec room is filled with teenagers. A stack of pizza boxes is piled high, and cookies and snacks litter the coffee table. Chatter fills the room. The topics? Homelessness, public education, family planning, self-esteem, the environment.

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Core or Chore? Carol Ryan on Volunteerism

I was surprised when, upon the invitation to write about the emotional rewards of volunteering, no one moment stood out in my mind. It made me ask myself, why do I volunteer?

The volunteer aspect was a big reason I joined SVP 10 years ago. I was a journalist then, so a natural fit for me was to write articles for the newsletter. I remember interviewing SVP partner Molly Hanlon about why she volunteers. I still think about her response: “It’s how I was raised. It’s just something you do. Sleep, eat, work, go to the gym, volunteer.”

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Nam Ngo & Rainier Scholars

This fall a young man boarded a plane bound for Massachusetts. With a full scholarship to Williams, he will be the first in his family to graduate from college. Nam Ngo is a Rainier Scholar, and he is among the first cohort of scholars now attending schools here, and across the nation.

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People For Puget Sound Stand for Clean Water

Dick Wood’s grandkids are 6th generation Puget Sound. He has fished his whole life and experienced the Sound's decline first hand. He stands for clean water.

How is SVP connected?

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