The Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be in giving time, opening your network for others, or contributing financially. When it comes to SVP’s resources, we want to know that our money, talent, and influence are effectively building the capacity of nonprofits, collaborations, and initiatives that have potential for impact on a much greater scale. Our venture philanthropy model provides us with the opportunity to invest early, to be nimble, to partner deeply, and to achieve multiplicative impact in organizations and communities.
Social Venture Partners Portland (SVP) continually seeks to understand how our investments create tangible change for families and communities who need them. One most recent example is IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization), which continues to grow its early childhood impact, in part due to a multi-year grant combined with SVP Partner expertise, most recently through a new re-investment of our human capital.
IRCO’s mission is to promote the integration of refugees, immigrants, and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy, and multiethnic society. More specifically, SVP engaged to help them design a culturally-specific preschool to manifest their mission in the generations to come.
This came with many challenges. IRCO needed assistance in bringing all the early education and strategy pieces together. Their team was separated by department lines and often didn’t have the staff capacity to conduct the market research, literature review and business planning necessary to develop the financial and programmatic model for this innovative preschool. SVP stepped up in spades. Compounded with a lean staff team was the need for funding, which SVP met with an initial two-year $70,000 general operating grant to ensure IRCO had the resources for this research and planning phase. SVP was the seed investor, and we now see the sprouts beginning to grow!
Our Initial Investment
Over the last three years, IRCO has been able to serve more than 500 children, ages 0–5, with early childhood services that include home visits, group parenting workshops, developmental screenings, referrals to early intervention, and a variety of other kindergarten-readiness activities. To build upon these programs, SVP & IRCO completed a community-driven research report to identify the early childhood needs and priorities of the community IRCO serves. This research informed the development of a formal business plan and budget for a multicultural preschool designed specifically to meet the needs of immigrant and refugee children.
“Most foundations just want to buy your product by writing a check,” said Mr. Lee Po Cha, Executive Director of IRCO. “SVP is very different and unique in their approach to philanthropy. We said that we wanted to make a bigger difference in early learning. SVP believed in our vision, worked in partnership with our leadership, and brought valuable technical knowledge and skills in research and business planning. SVP helps its Community Partners be the best we can be.”
At SVP, we are accountable for our commitments, working alongside IRCO to achieve the capacity building goals we set by connecting them to new resources, participating in business activities, synthesizing research data, drafting comprehensive budgets, acting as a strategy facilitator, benchmarking on goals, and so much more.
“IRCO is a phenomenal organization with a long-running track record of providing culturally-specific programming and services,” said SVP Lead Partner Megan Loeb. “SVP Partners have worked alongside IRCO employees to help identify and elevate the needs of early childhood programming for immigrants and refugees in the Metro area, from attending site visits to poring over spreadsheets to create actionable budgets. It’s been so rewarding to work together to help IRCO get closer to its goals. I’m truly excited about the promise and possibilities ahead.”
SVP 2019 Reinvestment of Partner Time & Expertise
In August 2019, SVP’s Portfolio Management Team (comprised of Partners who oversee our portfolio of investments), approved a one-year reinvestment comprised of pro-bono capacity building support. During this time, Megan and a team of Partners will develop robust business plans for a bricks-and-mortar, multicultural preschool as well as home-based models. As part of this effort, we will review curricula recommended by the Multnomah County Preschool for All initiative, suggesting the most relevant options for IRCO based on cultural adaptability, and reviewing and recommending possible assessment tools.
The hours and dollars our Partners donate are never taken for granted. We are committed to stewarding them exceptionally well, ensuring the capacity building expertise we provide to organizations helps them overcome hurdles, both big and small, so that they can achieve greater impact in our community. That’s how change is made—and we thank everyone who makes this possible through SVP!
We are tremendously grateful for the significant time and expertise invested by the following SVP Partners, who have worked in partnership with IRCO to-date:
- Megan Loeb, Current SVP Lead Partner
- Jane Williams-Grube, former SVP Lead Partner
- Brian Cohen-Doherty
- David Smith
- Diane McCartney
- Jeff Mazer
- Kerry McClenahan
- Nicole Thibodeau
- Noel Johnson
- Sarah Marin
- Stephanie Feeney
- Steve Maser
- Teresa Gonczy
- Vân Truong
- Wendy Weissman