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$150k Invested in Collective Action

Posted by Sally Gillis

Two and half years have passed since the Stanford Social Innovation Review published their article on Collective Impact, and the social sector is still buzzing. Communities across the country are aligning their efforts to achieve lasting change, and over the past nine months SVP has invested $150k+ in collective action.

Through an evolving strategy, informed by community needs and SVP’s unique assets, our Education and Environment Collective Action Teams have funded and begun capacity building projects with key organizations that are involved in and leading collaborative efforts.

Plus, SVP is convening the Statewide Capacity Collaborative, a group of nine funders that are pooling dollars and aligning efforts to strengthen Washington’s social sector.

Education Investments

The Education Collective Action Team (EduCAT) is Partnering with three current and former Investees: Powerful Schools, Child Care Resources, and the Vietnamese Friendship Association, which is working with the South East Seattle Education Coalition.  Each organization is aligned with a collective action initiative in the community, and the EduCAT provided each with a $15k grant and capacity building support.

In addition to these investments, the EduCAT made three Emerging Opportunity Grants to increase our understanding of collective action efforts, develop a robust strategy to support such efforts, and provide necessary resources to the field.  These include:

The Road Map Project: $10k grant to help sponsor a four-day professional development workshop bringing together school district teams and counselors engaged in college readiness to share best practices, provide feedback on relevant Race to the Top projects, collaborate on upcoming cross district projects, and engage in professional development opportunities. This is a unique and much needed opportunity for school-based staff who often struggle to participate in planning and coordinating conversations with nonprofits during the school year and for cross-district conversations that rarely happen at the middle management level.

Neighborhood House’s High Point PROMISE: $10k grant to increase alignment of tutoring services from four key nonprofits working in the High Point community and deepen the impact of these services to meet the needs of the 750 school aged children living in the community.  SVP’s EduCAT will learn alongside High Point staff and have the opportunity to provide feedback as High Point implements greater alignment between the four tutoring providers.

Eastside Pathways: $5,000 to support an Encore Fellow to work with in developing a baseline community report card to track and gauge improvement on key metrics as well aid in how Eastside Pathways disseminates information to their community partners.

Environment Investments

The Environment Collective Action Team (Enviro CAT) is comprised of SVP Partners who care passionately about the environment, with a keen awareness that issues like equity, health, and economic prosperity are also key elements of community sustainability.  They are particularly interested in working with other philanthropic partners to leverage the investment in transit to build a healthy, livable, equitable and prosperous community for all.

Over the past year the Enviro CAT has made three investments, including:

Sustainable Communities Funders Collaborative: $25k grant toward a pooled fund with this group of grant makers to support the work of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)’s Growing Transit Communities Initiative.  This project stands to be a model of how equity, environment, and the economy can intersect and support one another when collective action is taken.

Futurewise: $40k grant and capacity building support to deepen their engagement in the Growing Transit Communities initiative and leverage national interest in piloting a shared measurement tool, STAR Communities.  Futurewise encourages decisions that promote sensible higher intensity development in urban centers, particularly transit investments, while fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.

Puget Sound Sage: $20k Emerging Opportunity Grant to support their Community Benefits and Development program, which connects people and organizations across communities to ensure healthy, green and just development.  The program is aligned with the Growing Transit Communities Initiative, and SVP’s grant dollars will be used to help hire a much needed program organizer as they expand community engagement efforts.  This grant deepens the CAT’s exposure and learning about the needs of small community-based nonprofits and residents impacted by the Growing Transit Communities Initiative.

Together these investments create a holistic approach.  As one Enviro CAT member explained: “Our investment in the Puget Sound Funding Partnership for Sustainable Communities supports collaboration among funders.  The investment in Futurewise focuses on data, strategy, and grass-tops efforts.  The Sage grant concentrates on the grassroots organizing needed to ensure communities have the power to advocate for themselves.  This is collective action investing at its best.”

Statewide Capacity Collaborative

SVP serves as the convener of the Statewide Capacity Collaborative, a group of nine funders who are working towards a healthy and resilient social sector where individual nonprofits thrive, communities work collectively to address their needs, and the sector is seen as a force for change.

To date, the SCC has made investments of over two million dollars across the state to elevate the profile of the sector through advocacy and policy and deliver capacity building resources.

Recently, the SCC has pooled an additional $350k to make investments in:

  • Efforts that elevate the profile of the social sector through public policy and advocacy
  • Strategies to effectively deliver capacity building knowledge and broaden the availability of tools and resources
  • Leadership development at local, regional and statewide levels

SCC members include: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Campion Foundation, Medina Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, The Seattle Foundation, Sherwood Trust, The Paul G. Allen Foundation, The Empire Health Foundation, and SVP Seattle.

Looking Forward

Members on both CATs look forward to continued grantmaking and capacity building projects.  They intend to focus on developing skills in convening and cultural competency, and  challenge themselves to work with smaller community-based organizations that are often missing from important community conversations.  They will also continue coordinating with funding peers to be sure we are using SVP’s dollars to compliment and not duplicate efforts.

As for the SCC, members look forward to making their first pooled investment in the next six months and continuing to support and connect the key capacity building resources for nonprofits across the state.

Want to Learn More?

If you are interested in learning more about SVP’s Collective Action work, either through the CATs or the SCC, please feel free to contact Sally Gillis.

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