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Small Connections, Take 2: From Bellevue to Oakland

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What do Bellevue and Oakland have in common?  I found out the other day when I got an email from a former SVP Partner, Joneil Custodio…

“I think you may find my recent work interesting as I credit its lasting impact to my association with SVP. I’ve been working within the Oakland Unified School District on a collective impact initiative called Linked Learning. I’m developing a ‘community engagement strategy’ to inspire parents, teachers, and business leaders to provide work-based learning experiences to Oakland’s at-risk students. Our desired impact is to provide students with hope for a life after high school and commit themselves to graduating, thereby increasing our graduation rate well above 40%.”

You see, last March Joneil attended the Collective Impact Conference with dozens of other SVP Partners.  At the conference he met Bill Henningsgaard, who was planting the seeds for what would become Eastside Pathways.  They chatted briefly about their shared their passion for education – Bill’s rooted in Bellevue and Joneil’s in the Oakland area.

Nearly a year later, Joneil has taken that passion to the next level.

“This exciting effort, as well as Eastside Pathways, is a testament to SVP’s ability to connect philanthropists closer to their passions, provide exceptional resources to imagine uniquely personal ways to engage, and drive sustainable change by surrounding them with like-minded leaders and inspirational best practices. Although I’m in the Bay Area I do miss a tighter connection with SVP and I want to thank you for what SVP does. The depth of my work wouldn’t be possible without your influence.” 

It’s stuff like this that reminds me why I do what I do.  Sometimes all it takes is a spark.  A person, a conversation, an experience, a connection that sends someone like Joneil down an unexpected path.

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