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St. James Music Academy graduates from SVP Vancouver

Posted by SVP Vancouver

Three year engagement leads to success on all fronts

SVP is focused on helping non-profits that are poised to grow and scale their impact.  In most cases, our Investees are young, grassroots organizations with a proven mission but have limited internal resources or expertise to help them strengthen, scale and becoming self-sustaining.

St. James Music Academy (SJMA) is the first Investee to “graduate” from SVP’s revitalized selection process introduced in 2012.  Rather than a grant cycle where we sought proposals from multiple organizations at one time, only to turn most of them away, we transitioned to an opportunities funnel to consider new Investees on an on-going basis and proceeding only with those that offered the strongest fit for SVP and garnered the support of Partners.

With the on-going mentorship of Lead Partners, Hamlet Abnousi and Jeff Peterson, and $125,000 in funding from SVP over three years, SJMA achieved significant program expansion and long-term sustainability, through business planning, fund development, and the implementation of a CRM database.

SJMA is an SVP success story. They nearly doubled their impact across many key metrics, including number of children served, funds raised, programs offered, and unique donors.

“SVP was a true catalyst for SJMA’s growth and helped us firmly establish our outreach program, which now serves 250 children in four elementary schools,” says Kathryn Walker, Executive Director for SJMA. “SVP provided business acumen to guide us over a period of significant growth and essential funding to develop our donor and volunteer base. We are so grateful for this philanthropic partnership which has placed SJMA on a strong and solid footing for the future.”

The numbers below showcase SJMA’s growth over the duration of SVP’s engagement:

          July 2012         July 2015          Growth

Children Served                            245                       450                       +84%

Volunteers                                    35                           60                         +71%

Program Hours                             595                       833                       +40%

Instruments                                  125                         175                       +40%

Unique Programs                         3                             6                           +100%

Fundraising Revenue                  $436,000             $868,000             +99%


SJMA began in response to Vancouver inner-city children’s lack of access to high quality music education due to socio-economic barriers.  Founded by Executive Director Kathryn Walker and inspired by the renowned El Sistema program in Venezuela, SJMA provides music education in all orchestral instruments and choir.  As of July 2015, SJMA operates a core program at St. James Anglican Church serving 200 children and an outreach program reaching 250 kids in four neighbourhood schools in the Downtown Eastside.

“SJMA was the first opportunity for myself and Jeff Peterson, and a number of other SVP Partners, to work with an Investee in a substantive way,” says Lead Partner, Hamlet Abnousi.  “All of us found the engagement rewarding and the process for donating time and expertise very fulfilling. It was excellent to witness the key role SVP can play in helping a non-profit go to the next level.”

If you are looking for ways to give back, consider a donation to SJMA. In order to maintain a high-quality, free music education to children who would not otherwise have the opportunity in or out of school, SJMA relies on the generosity of donors.  Special thanks to all Partners who supported, and continue to support, SJMA is some capacity. When you meet the children, see their smiles, and witness their confidence and pride, you learn that the power of music to positively transform the lives of children is undeniableLearn more at www.sjma.ca and contact Paul Myers, Director of Development, to make a follow-on donation to this SVP success story and worthy non-profit in our community.