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SVP Portland Exercises Its “Magic” in the Time of COVID-19

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

Dear Partners,

Finding the opportunity in a crisis is a deliberate process. We know we need to adapt. Not just to cope and survive in the short-term, but to figure out how we will thrive in the changing environment. Adaptation is a journey, and it takes a collective effort from the full SVP Partnership. 

Today, I’m pleased to provide you with a look at how SVP Partners are focusing efforts on what is already working well, and also sharpening our tools to be of greater service to the emerging community needs.

Portfolio Management Team Chair, Bill Porter, shares what continues to be essential in our work with community: “The ‘magic’ of SVP Portland comes from the unique combination of pooled donations focused on a common goal and the talents and expertise of our Partners working with nonprofit leaders to strengthen their organizations. Together, we are able to do more than our individual contributions of money or time alone could ever accomplish.”

Indeed, our capacity building work continues throughout this crisis, and with renewed importance and urgency. You can read a summary of the projects underway with our 10 Community Partners here. Teams of Partners have swiftly adapted to engage in projects remotely, leveraging their strong relationships with nonprofit leaders and adjusting timelines and scopes of work to keep pace with emerging needs. A few recent successes include:

  • Culmination of a multi-year project with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) resulting in an application for public funds to launch their first center-based preschool. This funding will be supplemented by receipt of a multi-year grant from Legacy to support their vision to scale preschool programming in the coming years.
  • Leadership transition support for the Black Parent Initiative (BPI), which now has a strong Executive Director and Board of Directors in place and is poised to re-brand and grow its community impact.
  • Extension of a long-time partnership with Latino Network, which continues to utilize SVP support as they prepare for a potential transition in leadership while simultaneously ensuring their long-term financial health in light of the COVID pandemic.

While we remain proud of our core capacity building work, we also know there is a need for new resources as SVP Partners walk alongside community leaders on the road to recovery and resilience. Partners are stepping up on several critical new initiatives.

First, we are placing a high priority on supporting Community Partners in their financial health. SVP’s Financial Partnership Team is currently developing and curating key tools and templates to navigate critical conversations with our nonprofit partners. Team member, Diane McCartney, notes: “While our initial focus was to provide a longer term Financial Health Assessment, this pivot will allow us to assist our Community Partners with immediate needs as they consider possible financial “course corrections” to adjust their business models given the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on their operations now and into the future.” 

This, of course, includes our work to support Community Partners in securing CARES Act funds, which we reported on here.

Additionally, a team is working to develop and roll out a training that will build SVP Partner skills in serving as effective coaches for the nonprofit leaders and staff with whom they work. This is a critical complement to the technical skills and subject matter expertise Partners bring to their engagements, in particular as we support nonprofit leaders to make the difficult strategic decisions that lie ahead.

Finally, a team of Partners is interviewing key early learning leaders and stakeholders to develop a set of scenarios about the future of the early learning system in our community. This will inform SVP’s conversations about adaptations to our community impact strategy, in addition to supporting the Portfolio Management Team as they continue to evaluate new investments.

The collective energy of both Investor and Community Partners during this time is inspiring. No matter where and how you engage in our work, thank you. We are fortunate to navigate this difficult time together, and I truly look forward to emerging from this crisis with renewed purpose and clarity.


Rose Rezai, Director of Community Impact

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