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Two New Grants to Bolster Capacity Building

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

Even with all of the extraordinary work that our SVP Portland Partners have done with Community Partners this year, including helping Community Partners obtain $3.3M in  CARES ACT Payroll Protection Plan loans, our “regular” capacity-building work continued and even expanded. The Portfolio Management Team just announced two new approved investments, and interestingly, these two Memorandums of Understanding are with one of our newest Community Partners (the Center for African Immigrants and Refugee Organization) and with our longest ongoing relationship (Latino Network).

These two relationships are great examples of how SVP works with community organizations throughout their life cycles. We have been working with Latino Network, founded in 1996, for eight years to accomplish a variety of capacity-building goals.

“When we first invested in Latino Network in 2013, they had 13 full-time staff with a $1.5M budget,” said Holly Levow, the lead Partner working with Latino Network for nearly all of the time SVP has worked with them. “They have now grown to be a 120-person, game-changing team with a $10M budget. Specifically in their early education program, Juntos Aprendemos, they have scaled from programming in three schools in the Portland Metro area to now serving 17 schools statewide and growing.”

This latest financial grant comes at a critical time for Latino Network, as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19 while simultaneously undergoing a transition in executive leadership and preparations for their upcoming capital campaign.

“Latino Network continues to be the premier culturally-specific organization in Portland serving the Latino community and advocating for social justice, both for their community as well as all marginalized communities,” added Holly. “SVP has invested our time, treasure, and talent into Latino Network and they have always exceeded our expectations in terms of outcomes and impact.”

Conversely, we are completing the initial phase of our capacity building partnership with the Center for African Immigrants and Refugee Organization (CAIRO). Created in 2014, CAIRO advocates for and acts to increase equity and social justice through programs, services, community organizing, and collaborative leadership that create equitable opportunities for African refugees and immigrant children, youth and families to thrive.

After working with a SVP team over the last two years to improve their management structure and financial systems, we jointly agreed to move on to the next phase of our relationship with a new partnership plan, including a first-time grant.

“We made quite a bit of progress in the first stage of our engagement,” said Rose Rezai, SVP Portland’s Director of Community Impact. “Our new agreement signals a growing relationship that is designed to help keep up their great momentum.”

“The CAIRO Academy is a full-time culturally- and linguistically-specific preschool that was founded to close early childhood education gaps for African families,” said Abdikadir Bashir, the Executive Director. “It now has the opportunity to grow with state funds from the Early Childhood Equity Fund and possibly additional funds from the Multnomah County Preschool for All initiative.”

“To do this, CAIRO is working with SVP to establish a strategy and operating model that will ensure the organization’s long-term economic and social sustainability,” said Bashir.

Rob Aslett, a Partner engaged with CAIRO, added, “An important part of this work will be building a foundation for financial, IT, HR, organizational development, data analysis, and other capabilities that are not funded by existing grants. SVP’s financial investment, combined with SVP Partner skills, will support CAIRO in taking these important steps so it can accelerate progress towards its vision of ‘a more just and equitable society in which children, youth, and families live in sustained, supportive communities, that reinforce the cultural wealth and lived experience of the family.”

In discussing how the Portfolio Management Team determined to approve these new investments, Rose said, “We try to stick with the core values of Venture Philanthropy. We try to combine our greatest asset — which is the time and expertise of our Partners — with some financial support to help enable the growth we think is possible.”

These are just two examples of the work that SVP Partners are doing in our community. If you are interested in joining one of these teams or possibly one of the other work teams or committees, contact Matt Little.

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