SVP Minnesota Partner and Social Venture Partners International Board Member, Jeff Tollefson was recently honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change,” for his leadership at Genesys Works. The Champions of Change program was created to honor ordinary Americans who are doing great work in their communities. The press release was originally posted here.
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the White House highlighted nine individuals and organizations that played a key role in the White House’s Youth Jobs+ program as “Champions of Change.” And one of the nine individuals being recognized in the nation is a Twin Cities change-maker – Jeff Tollefson.
Jeff proudly serves as the Executive Director of Genesys Works – Twin Cities, where he helps students break out of the poverty cycle and into the corporate world, shining a light on a path few students from low-income environments even know exists.
Through Genesys Works, Jeff is committed to building bridges between economically disadvantaged high school students, businesses seeking technology-proficient workers, and a public education system looking for innovative opportunities to produce college and career-ready graduates.
After spending more than 17 years in the venture capital industry, his involvement as a Partner (and now board member) of Social Venture Partners Minnesota and board member of Social Venture Partners International, helped him to see how his time, talents and relationship networks could be better utilized in the social sector, leading Jeff to leave the for-profit world and launching the Genesys Works program in the Twin Cities in 2008.
“The work of these individuals and organizations has been vital in promoting youth employment, creating jobs, and providing young people with the skills they need to be successful” said Danielle Gray, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. “Following on the President’s call to action, these ‘Champions of Change’ have helped connect young people with jobs and skills, creating opportunities in communities across this country.”
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
How SVP Fits In
“None of this would ever have happened without Social Venture Partners,” explains Jeff. “If I had not become a partner in 2007, my eyes would not have been opened to the important role that I could play in helping to catalyze positive social change in the Twin Cities community.”
“It was through SVP that I was introduced to Rafael Alvarez and the Genesys Works program, which was seed funded by SVP Houston in 2002 — the rest is history,” he says. “I had intended to only serve as Lead Partner for SVP Minnesota and simply assist Rafael with his expansion into the Twin Cities, never thinking I would ultimately accept a full-time role as Executive Director and have this now become my life’s work. I credit SVP for helping me ‘see the light.'”
Jeff is the second SVP Partner to be recognized as a Champion of Change. In 2012, SVP Seattle Partner, Nicole Trimble, was honored.