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SVP Portland’s Executive Director Update: Dec. 2019

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland
Executive Director

Dear Partners,

As 2019 comes to a close, I am incredibly grateful, proud, and optimistic. In this quarterly update to the SVP Portland Partnership I share why, and invite you to do the same. 

I am GRATEFUL for the opportunity to work so closely with Partners like you who generously give your dollars, remarkable skills, and connections to benefit our organization and our Community Partners. I am grateful for your belief that we can accomplish much more together as a partnership than we could alone as individuals. 

One capacity-building partnership illustrative of our collective impact is KairosPDX. SVP invested in KairosPDX when it was a seed of an idea just being planted. Their five founders participated in SVP’s Accelerator program designed specifically for start-ups. After six years of tilling, watering, fertilizing – SVP Partners investing deeply to grow Kairos’ operating capacity in the areas of leadership, human resources, fundraising, evaluation, and financial systems – KairosPDX is now a proven leader, both showing the world what is possible when you believe in the capabilities of black and brown children, and serving as a strong influence in early learning policy on a state level. Founder and Executive Director Kali Ladd said, “When you have the expertise from SVP in the early stage, you build a foundation for an organization to be successful and sustainable. That’s game-changing.”

I am PROUD of the ways in which we’ve worked hand-in-hand with our Community Partners, the organizations deeply committed to children who face entrenched barriers of poverty and discrimination. These leaders and programs are poised to have impact on an even greater scale, and they seek investment by SVP to help them realize their ambitious visions. 

We recently hosted the team of fifteen Partners who worked closely with Latino Network to celebrate what we have accomplished during our seven-year partnership. When we initially invested in 2012, the organization had a budget of $1.5M, 13 full-time staff, a promising early learning program (Juntos Aprendemos) in 3 schools, and a focus on program implementation versus systems change. The reality is that many foundations were weary to invest in their “unproven” model. However, our Partners believed in the growth that Executive Director Carmen Rubio envisioned, and dove in full force to help codify the program model, write a business plan, build a financial model, conduct a feasibility study, and develop legal agreements. We also helped Latino Network prepare for growth by working on human resources, organizational structure, strategic planning, program evaluation, fundraising, financial health, and board governance. It’s an excellent example of the depth and breadth of the SVP venture philanthropy model. Fast forward to today, where the organization has a budget of $10M, 120 staff, and Juntos Aprendemos is in 17 classrooms across the State and on track to scale further. Click here to see a visual that depicts this impressive growth

In reflecting on the value SVP has brought, Carmen Rubio shared, SVP not only changes organizations, SVP capacitates our organizations to change systems – permanently – and as a result benefit the lives of so many in our community facing barriers.”

This beautifully captures why I am so proud.

Finally, I am OPTIMISTIC about SVP Portland’s path forward. As you are aware, a focus this year has been building our internal infrastructure so that we are walking our talk as a best-in-class nonprofit. We started the year in a tenuous place due to high staff turnover in prior years and a lack of financial resources. Thanks to exceptional work by staff, strong Board leadership, and Partners like you who understand the unique and critical role SVP plays in our community, we have made tremendous progress. Big wins to celebrate include:

    • #1: We met our goal of raising an additional $300k from our Partnership, a challenge set at our Annual Partners Meeting in 2019. This success was due to the hard work of staff and internal committees, and the amazing generosity of our Partnership.
    • #2: We worked diligently to leverage Partners’ investments and diversify our funding sources, so were thrilled to receive new grants from the Kelley Family Foundation, Raymond Family Foundation, Oscar & Elsa Mayer Family Foundation, and the Oregon Community Foundation. Combine this with significant cuts to internal expenses and we are now in a more stable financial position, with much stronger systems, reporting and tracking in place.
    • #3: The Multnomah County Preschool for All initiative, in which eight Partners participated, completed its comprehensive report on how to make universal preschool a reality for our children. Through an exemplary process, we effectively engaged diverse stakeholders to ensure strong cross-sector buy-in, which is critical for long-term success. 
    • #4: The Student Success Act passed! The Act includes $200M for early learning overall, with $20M that supports the Early Learning Equity Fund. Success is due, in no small part, to the leadership of our Community Partners and the role of SVP Portland as seed investor, fiscal sponsor, and capacity builder for the Equity Collaborative’s advocacy efforts.

We are nothing without our Partners, who join SVP to learn, connect, engage, and give back in a meaningful, strategic, and highly-leveraged way. Consequently, I would love to hear from you! Do you have any moments of inspiration or gratitude over the past year due to your involvement with SVP? Did you meet an amazing changemaker? Feel inspired to do more for our community? See something differently through a new learning? Have the opportunity to make a positive impact? Please reply to my email and we will share a compilation with our Partnership.

Thank you for the many ways you give to SVP Portland. Our collective investment to ensure all children have access to quality early learning really matters for the future of Portland.


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