Surely there can be no more worthy goal than fighting against childhood poverty and winning.
With this in mind, Nancy Roob, CEO and president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation has called for philanthropists to make such an investment.
Two years ago the Foundation created Blue Meridian Partners, led by Roob.
Blue Meridian’s plan is to invest a whopping $1 billion over the long term in a relatively few nonprofit companies.
“My first job out of Hamilton college,” Roob said, “was working with women getting off of welfare, helping them find childcare so they could work. So basically my job was going everyday to welfare offices across the city of Boston and for 8 to 10 hours a day meeting with women and counseling them about their childcare options.”
“If we were really serious about trying to move the needle on issues of poverty for the most disadvantaged we couldn’t do this alone. It was very clear to me that we would have to figure out a different way to do philanthropy that was in partnership with others.
“The thing that is just so motivating for me right now is with Blue Meridian we’re making very large scale investments, in the range, let’s say of a hundred million dollars. That kind of investment is unprecedented for social sector leaders who are working on poverty related issues.
Upping the Ante
Roob said, “The reality is that we’re not going to be able to solve problems in America if American organizations only receive average grants of $35,000, which is really the average grant size in philanthropy right now.
“I hope Blue Meridian will be able to inspire more social-sector leaders to think bigger and be able to really solve problems in this country.”
Non-profits currently funded by Blue Meridian Partners include:
- Nurse Family Partnership—home visitation program.
- Wendy’s Wonderful Kids—reduce number of kids in Foster Care.
- Youth Villages—helps troubled youths.
- Year Up—hands-on training and education program for low-income chronically unemployed young adults.
- Healthy Steps—a national model of enhanced pediatric care.
- Birth through eight strategies for Tulsa—a 10-year community initiative for low-income children (up to age 8) and their families
- Upstream USA – a program that supports health and family planning centers so they can offer women single-visit access to the full range of safe effective contraceptives.
Donors to non-profit companies are increasing and becoming more ambitious.
They want to extend their funding beyond homeless shelters and food pantries, for example, and actually end homelessness and hunger nationwide.
That’s what the Harvard Business Review said in last year’s September/October issue.
Sounds ambitious but doable.
Non-profit corporations have now become America’s biggest employer with almost one million non-profit organizations.
Every other American adult, the article said (90 million people), spends at least three hours a week as ‘unpaid staff,’ that is as a volunteer for a non-profit organization, for churches and hospitals, for health care agencies, for community services like Red Cross, Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous.
This should be reassuring for the families of those struggling with addictions as well as the addicts themselves.
The good news is that there is a lot of help out there, and apparently more on the way.
The great bulk of the new volunteers are not retired people. They are husbands and wives in the professional two-earning family, people in their thirties and forties, well educated, affluent, busy.
Blue Meridian Partners
Blue Meridian is currently partnering with the following non profits:
Nurse Family Partnership- a research based home visitation program for low-income first time mothers. Its vision is to break the cycle of multigenerational poverty by 2003 for 100,000 mothers and children a year.
Wendy’s Wonderful kids: a recruitment model that reduces the number of children in foster care by securing adoptive families. Its vision is to build by 2028 the infrastructure to serve nearly all the country’s hardest to place children.
Youth Village: a program that helps troubled youth, often involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Its vision by 2023 is to make YV Life Set (which works with young aging out of foster care) available to nearly all youth who age out of foster care annually.
Year up: a hands-on training and education program for low-income chronically unemployed young adults. Its long-term vision is to bridge the “opportunity divide” that separates six million young adults across the country from hard to fill corporate “middle-skill” jobs.
Healthy Steps: a national model of enhanced pediatric care that integrates a child development specialist into the primary care team. Its long-term vision is to transform pediatric primary care team, it long term vision is to transform pediatric primary care, which is used by more than 90 percent of all U.S. families.
Birth through eight strategies for Tulsa: a 10-year community initiative for low-income children (preconception to age 8) and their families. Its long-term vision is to improve the odds for success for the country’s poorest children by increasing percentages of healthy births and of children raised in safe homes, ready for kindergarten and who succeed in school third grade.
Upstream USA: a program that supports health and family planning centers so they can offer women single visit access to the full range of safe, effective contraceptives. Its long term vision is to ensure that one day every child in the U. S. is planned for and wanted, thus reducing intergenerational and child poverty.
For philanthropists pursuing large scale “swing for the fences change” here are social change initiatives of the past 100 years which bear revisiting:
- The anti apartheid movement
- Aravind eye hospital
- Car seats
- CPR Training
- The fair food program
- Hospice care
- Marriage equality
- Motorcycle helmets in Vietnam
- The National School lunch program
- 911 emergency services
- Oral rehydration solution
- Polio Eradication
- Public libraries
- Sesame Street
- Tobacco control