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2020 Reflections & 2021 Preparations

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

It has been more than six months since the world changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the outset, many non-profits were extremely concerned about whether their revenues would dry up, whether they would be able to continue to provide critical services, and even whether they would survive.

At SVP Portland, many Partners, Community Partners, and staff shared those concerns. However, we are pleased to report that as a result of persistent efforts, resourcefulness, nimbleness, and an all-hands-on-deck attitude, we can look back on these last six months with enormous pride in what we accomplished amidst adversity. Our demonstrated resilience and tenacity in the face of multiple challenges has left us optimistic about the future as well.

“We have an influx of new Partners who want to do more than just write a check,” said Matt Little, Director of Investor Partnerships. “We are the only local group that allows people to contribute their time, expertise, and money, so people are more excited than ever about getting involved and making a real difference.”

Twenty-one new Partners have joined this year, and more than 80% of those are already working with Community Partners and/or serving on SVP teams/committees.

The result of all of our work has been remarkable. Community Partners, with the help of responsive efforts by many SVP Partners, secured more than $3.4 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds. In addition, the years of work by the Equity Collaborative have paid off big. The state has allocated $4.6 million to our Community Partners to support their culturally-specific early education programs. All the while, we have continued our “regular” capacity-building work supporting Community Partners, including a heightened focus on intensive work to strengthen financial controls, reporting, and stability.

In addition, we continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring strong support for the Multnomah County Preschool for All ballot measure. This initiative will secure public financing and build the infrastructure to ensure that all of the county’s 3- and 4-year-old kids have access to quality pre-kindergarten education, while prioritizing children who face the greatest barriers today.

“I have been inspired by the collaborative work of our Partners and staff this year. They have shown their passion and dedication to SVP, and how much more we can do together to address community challenges with our collective resources than we can alone,” said Lauren Johnson, Executive Director. “Our Community Partners are on the front lines dealing with the multiple crises of the pandemic, racial injustice, and economic disparities. They have turned to SVP — as a trusted ally and resource in making difficult strategic leadership decisions — and we have come through as a true partner.”

As SVP Portland prepares to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the needs of our Community Partners will continue to grow and evolve. “We are committed to working toward long-term, systemic change in order to make a real impact,” Lauren continued. “This focus on addressing root causes is all the more important as we work to rebuild even stronger than we were before.”

While we approach the end of 2020 on solid ground, the outlook for 2021 holds both incredible promise and challenges. If Preschool for All passes, there is likely to be a tremendous amount of work needed to help our current and new Community Partners implement the plan. We will no doubt need more Investor Partners, especially those with expertise in areas that currently aren’t covered. 

Because of the limitations on in-person meetings, we must be creative in recruiting new Partners to meet these needs. This year’s success has come from a wide range of places, but the most reliable source of new Partners are referrals from existing Partners. If you know of someone who might be interested in joining, please let Matt know. He is especially looking for people with experience in strategic planning, project management, finance, HR, IT, business planning, and who have been executive mentors or coaches. As always, there are also opportunities for those wanting to invest money alone.

“We have built up SVP Portland’s capacity to provide vital support to our Community Partners, which helps ensure they have the leadership and infrastructure to provide quality programs for children and families,” Lauren said. “We will build on that foundation so that we continue to serve as an exceptional capacity building resource as we move into our next phase.”

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