September 3, 2014
Dear SV2 Partners and Friends,
We couldn't be more delighted by what's ahead. As we wrap up an exciting summer filled with the welcoming of three stellar Grantees to our portfolio, enlightening Partner Design Sessions, new staff arrivals, and impact investing learning, we’ve together set the stage for a fruitful, fun-filled fall for our special community.
The Board Investment Review Committee recently met to review SV2’s nine Grantees in the 2013-2014 portfolio and discuss their successes and lessons learned over the past year. After three years of SV2 funding and support, three Grantees are graduating: Partners in School Innovation (PSI), Blue Planet Network (BPN), and Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).
We would like to thank six Lead Partners for all of their hard work in helping our graduating Grantees build capacity, think strategically through tough organizational challenges, and increase their impact: Jamie Wang and Harry Turner (PSI), David Meader and Peter Raisbeck (BPN), and Krissy Iverson-Valk and Mary Taylor Fullerton (OFRF).
We would like to celebrate our graduating Grantees and highlight the progress each organization has made during its partnership with SV2.
Partners in School Innovation
Partners in School Innovation strives to improve teaching, learning, and achievement in the lowest-performing public schools so that every student, regardless of background, thrives. Over the past three years, PSI successfully transitioned from a regional organization that exclusively served the Bay Area to one with a national presence. During this time, PSI more than doubled the number of districts served while keeping costs under control and maintaining the quality of their high-touch offerings.
To support this transition to national scale, PSI executed a multi-channel marketing strategy, which resulted in key partnerships with large-scale foundations such as the Kellogg Foundation. With the strategic help of SV2, PSI made progress on two of its greatest challenges: shifting its Board’s mindset from that of a regional organization to a national one and recruiting four new highly engaged Board members. After three years, PSI has emerged stronger and more effective with a replicable model for staffing and governance in the lowest-performing schools.
Blue Planet Network
Blue Planet Network (BPN) aims to exponentially increase the impact of safe drinking water programs worldwide through technology, collaboration, monitoring, and analysis. Over the last three years, BPN has achieved a number of leadership, funding, and program accomplishments. In September 2013, BPN merged with long-time partner East Meets West to create greater impact through their shared vision and combined resources.
With monetary support from SV2, BPN hired its first Development Director, Silke Knebel, who was instrumental in greatly increasing external funding from philanthropic organizations such as the Condrad N. Hilton Foundation, launching BPN’s powerful new web platform, and expanding the visibility of the organization through speaking engagements and media placements. In addition, SV2 worked strategically with BPN to consult on the new web platform, and help recruit Board of Directors and Advisory Board members.
Since March 2012, BPN has grown from 94 members working in 1,130 communities across 25 countries to 110 members working in 3,000 communities across 26 countries. The organization has supported its members in providing 621,000 people with clean drinking water and sanitation.
Organic Farming Research Foundation
The mission of Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is to foster the widespread adoption and improvement of organic farming systems through research, outreach to organic farming supporters, and advocacy at the policy level. Over the past three years, OFRF has developed a highly engaged constituency through a more effective communications strategy, which has resulted in a 121% increase in individual gifts over this time period. Earlier this year, OFRF produced the first science-based, peer-reviewed look at the multiple societal benefits of organic farming in North America, and was successful in helping to pass the 2014 Farm Bill with significant gains for the U.S. Organic movement.
SV2’s beyond-the-dollars support was instrumental in helping OFRF navigate several challenging board governance issues, hire a new Executive Director with extensive experience and strong personal relationships in the sector, appoint four key Board members, and nominate a new Board chair.
We appreciated the opportunity that the Investment Committee Review meeting afforded us to review the impact of our funding and our strategic advice on these graduating Grantees. SV2 is tremendously proud to be associated with these organizations, and we look forward to their continued growth and success!
A number of members from the SV2 community (Heather McLeod Grant, Lance Fors, and Jen Ratay) recently participated in the Sobrato Philanthropies’ Speaker Series, Building Blocks for Creating Greater Impact. During this inaugural series, 305 nonprofit, philanthropic, and government leaders from 154 different organizations convened to explore how to best address the complex challenges facing the Silicon Valley region. Watch the five stellar sessions from the speakers series here.
As prioritized in SV2's new strategic plan, we are looking for opportunities like these to leverage the resources of other thought leaders in the sector to continue to build the skillsets and effectiveness of our community members - both Grantees and Partners alike. To that end, we'll explore, gather, and share other similarly instructive resources in the future through several different avenues such as our website, our eNews, and our future community-wide collaboration platform.