If you want to change public policy in the United States, you’ll eventually find your way to the influential world of Washington think tanks. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), one of the most aggressive foundations seeking to move big ideas, has been investing in Beltway policy shops for a while now. Earliest this year, in its biggest such give yet, the foundation made an $8.4 million grant to the Urban Institute to help develop its Pay for Success work. Now Arnold is taking things a step further: It’s setting up its own wonk operation in the nation’s capital.
Three big multi-year grants went out from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation starting in 2014 to investigate and support “Social Innovation Financing.” And this is just part of the picture of what the Arnolds are doing to fund Pay for Success (PFS) initiatives. What is going on with this new trend?
We’ve all heard the complaint: Nonprofits, even some of the great ones, just can’t get to the scale needed to have real impact. And funders, even ones that believe in these nonprofits, too often won’t lift a finger to help organizations really break out.
Well, here’s a story about a funder that set out to break this familiar pattern, and what it learned.
In 2007, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) launched something called the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot, which was a collaborative funding effort to mobilize $120 million in capital to “propel the growth of effective nonprofits poised for scale.”
The foundation was taking some big risks. It was taking a risk on the three social service grantees in which it initially made exponential investments. It was also risking its time and money, as it not only rounded up a number of funders to join the effort, but greatly increased its own investments.
It appears that Harry Potter books bring the power of “Lumos” to the world in more ways than one. While research suggests that young people who read the Harry Potter books are more tolerant and compassionate, and while the books have sprouted a millennial-style fandom nonprofit called the Harry Potter Alliance, the greatest contribution to human progress may be coming directly from the author, J.K. Rowling, and her profound understanding of the disservice that institutionalization does to children—and how we need to move away from it as a model to address emotional, behavioral, and social problems.
Rowling recently came to New York to announce the start of Lumos USA, the new U.S.-based outpost of the nonprofit she founded in 2005. The goal of Lumos is to redirect the care of disadvantaged children away from group homes and orphanages, and find more ways to support them, and their families, in the community. Its target is the 8 million children worldwide who are cared for in institutions.
Since the Great Recession, a slew of new workforce development efforts have launched all across the country, but how much do the different programs know about each other, and how can proven strategies be effectively replicated?
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is on the case. This Boston-based fund is a group with a long list of big-name foundations working to improve career advancement for low-wage workers. By engaging employers in more than 30 communities across the U.S., the National Fund develops employer-led industry partnerships that guide educational and training investments. This is the kind of employer-employee matching that makes for strong, long-term employment prospects, and a more stable economy for the region.
May 19th is going to be a very big day for three of the seven cities competing for urban renewal dollars from Living Cities and the Citi Foundation. Three cities will find out on May 19th that they are the winners, cashing in on a $3 million jackpot to help drive innovation and workforce development in their hometowns.
Seven U.S. cities have made it to the final round of the Living Cities City Accelerator—Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Seattle—from which three cities will be chosen for the investment of $3 million dollars from Living Cities and the Citi Foundation to adopt innovative city plans to support low-income populations.
Memo to development officers: It’s always good to have a U.S. Senator in your corner. Case in point: $200,000 in funding for two nonprofits in Rhode Island doing workforce development.
Through the Blackstone Foundation’s Innovation Grants Initiative, the Founders League and the Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) were selected to receive funding to support startups located in Rhode Island. Blackstone gave out $3 million in gifts this year to organizations around the country doing work to improve local economies and support business activity. Now in its third year, the Blackstone Innovation Grants program is a big piece of the foundation’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship in the U.S. and abroad.