The partnership between Meristem and Social Venture Partners Minnesota (SVP-MN) began in October of 2011. Charlie Maxwell, Meristem’s founder and CEO, felt strongly that SVP-MN shared Meristem’s passion for serving at-risk youth. Additionally, SVP-MN’s creed of engaged philanthropy, which encompasses giving not only money but one’s time and talent to improve the community, was a perfect fit. For Meristem, engaged philanthropy not only supports the community, but it facilitates the development of the next generation of leaders, helps to retain employees, and brings the firm together for a worthy cause.
As a corporate partner of SVP, Meristem has served and worked with SVP-MN in a number of capacities over the past five years including: the SVP-MN Board of Directors, Lead Partners, Investment Committee, Due Diligence Committee, Investee Workshops and the firm has hosted several events at their offices. Many Meristem employees at all levels have been involved, and the intrinsic rewards to the firm are too numerous to count!
For example, Meristem works directly with an organization that serves homeless youth in Minneapolis called Full Cycle. Full Cycle is a nonprofit bicycle shop located at 3515 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis that employs and trains homeless youth – teaching them bike repair and business skills. Full Cycle sells used bikes, parts and provides repair services, which in turn support a better future and a life off the street for kids who have nowhere else to turn.
The Meristem team, together with Full Cycle and SVP-MN, created pro-forma financial statements and a prospectus for a three- year growth plan and capital campaign for Full Cycle. These materials helped win a large grant for Full Cycle; a full three-year, $350,000 grant with no matching requirement. This is a huge success story for Meristem, SVP-MN and Full Cycle.