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SVP Portland’s Executive Director Update: December 2020

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

My last comprehensive update to you seems like an eon ago — March!

As we close out the year, I’m incredibly proud of how SVP Partners, Board, and staff alike have demonstrated their dedication to our mission and Preschool for All (P4A) goal. The tenacity, resourcefulness, nimbleness, and collaboration in face of adversity has been remarkable. The months leading up to the election, in particular, were an all-hands-on-deck effort as we leveraged all of our assets to help our community pass the P4A ballot measure. This victory is one huge leap forward toward our longer-term goal of ensuring that all priority population children have access to quality early learning.

Today I write to share updates related to SVP Portland’s well-being, which translates to our impact, as well as notable community achievements. 

So far in 2020, we have grown our resources — human and financial — by successfully recruiting 23 new Partners. (The vast majority are already engaged on SVP teams and with Community Partners!) If you know someone excited to leverage their skills and/or philanthropic resources, please let us know. Fundraising and Partner giving have been strong, despite the pandemic and political uncertainties, resulting in stability and strength moving into 2021. Based on Partner input and nonprofit trends, we know that philanthropists have been particularly motivated to make a difference. And with SVP Portland, Partners share that they are confident their dollars are well-stewarded and leveraged in our community.

Partners are also inspired by the incredible successes that we have achieved this year. Highlights include helping our Community Partners secure $3.4 million through the federal stimulus bill (CARES Act) and $4.6 million through Oregon’s Equity Fund. In addition, we helped to pass the Multnomah County Preschool for All (P4A) ballot measure, which secures billions for our kids over the next decade.

The capacity building work with our portfolio of Community Partners has made a significant impact throughout the year. Four recent activities include:

  • A reinvestment in the Threads of Justice Collective to support its merger with a new backbone organization. This includes a $10,000 grant.
  • $20,000 grants to both Latino Network and the Center for African Immigrants and Refugee Organization (CAIRO) to support our capacity building partnerships. Both organizations are growing, in part due to receipt of State Equity Fund grants. With Latino Network, we are supporting their transition in executive leadership and preparations for their upcoming capital campaign. With CAIRO, our partnership is focused on strengthening their financial, IT, HR, organizational development, and data analysis capabilities.
  • The Portfolio Management Team approved an investment of SVP Partner time for the Child Care Shared Services Alliance. Particular attention is being paid to developing solutions that help those most impacted by the pandemic: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) providers. SVP Portland also stepped up as fiscal coordinator to manage two grants totaling $185,000, from the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) and an anonymous SVP Partner. The grant includes SVP serving as project manager for the now-named Child Care Shared Services Alliance, and convening a Co-Design Team of twelve stakeholders. A dedicated Partner team has been incredibly busy supporting the Co-Design Team’s work researching potential backbone agencies, learning about small business financing, identifying Oregon’s coaching resources, and building a financial model to look at different budgeting scenarios.
  • The Portfolio Management Team launched an investment team to explore a new partnership with Hacienda Community Development Corporation (Hacienda CDC). This organization is focused on developing and managing subsidized housing, with the majority of its clients coming from the Latino and East African immigrant communities. Hacienda CDC’s early learning program, Portland Niños, will expand in the coming year, in part through a State Equity Fund grant. The organization hopes to further grow its early learning programs in conjunction with new housing developments. Last month our Portfolio Team approved a $20,000 grant, along with the investment of Partner skills and expertise to help achieve capacity building goals.

Anticipating the passage of the P4A ballot and subsequent shift to implementation phase, our Board of Directors charged our Community Impact Strategy Committee (CISC) with conducting an early learning landscape assessment (i.e. stakeholder interviews) and strategic planning work, to build upon the scenario planning from our August retreat. Next steps include meeting with the Preschool for All team to better understand final implementation plans, and dialogue around how we can best leverage our human capital to help address the significant workforce, preschool provider, and facilities gaps.

As an integral aspect of our Commitments to Advance Racial Equity, the Equity Team (E-Team) built upon its July intensive with another learning session in October. At this point, all staff have been integrated in the E-Team and will participate in ongoing learning and work to advance our diversity, equity & inclusion goals. There has also been strong Board participation at DEI trainings. Furthermore, Board leadership is conducting exit interviews with departing Directors, with an explicit goal to learn about their experiences and ways we can become more inclusive (i.e. recruit and retain more Board & Partners that reflect the diversity of the populations we aim to serve).

Amidst a year of unprecedented challenge, our Partnership has demonstrated compassion, resilience, generosity, and dedication to individually stretching your giving in order to collectively maximize our impact. Reflecting on 2020 gives me great hope for what we can continue to accomplish together, as a diverse community of change-makers, in the year ahead.

In partnership,

Lauren Johnson
Executive Director

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