Year: 2017

Advocacy Deep Dive Workshop Series Begins this February

We are excited to launch SV2’s new three-part “Advocacy is Everywhere” Deep Dive Workshop series. Following the 2017 Strategic Refresh and Annual Partner Survey, Partners and the SV2 Board explicitly identified an interest in learning more about advocacy as a tool in the strategic social change toolkit. Three Partner Leaders, Julie Cates, Alison Elliott and Paru Yusuf, are collaborating with staff team member Lisa Van Dusen to navigate this new territory to serve three distinct audiences: SV2 Partners, SV2 as an organization, and SV2 Grantees and Impact Investees. 

In this series, we will learn what advocacy is, what it isn’t, and the range of options open to social impact organizations (including SV2, our Grantees and Impact Investees) within the advocacy arena, as well as how it can be a powerful social change tool. By boosting our collective “advocacy literacy,” we aim to understand how advocacy is at work throughout the social change ecosystem. We hope you’ll join us to kick off this new series on Friday, February 2 at 9:00am (RSVP here).

For example, SV2 Partners can explore how advocacy might fit into their philanthropic and other giving, including: short-, medium- and long-term goals; local, state and federal levels; and democracy-strengthening vs issue specific. SV2 as an organization will learn about and explore how it might use its “voice” on mission-related issues, and/or shape its grant & impact investing approach to include advocacy in some fashion. SV2 Grantees and Impact Investees can learn and share how advocacy is or could be part of their work.

In the first Deep Dive Workshop at on Friday, February 2nd, we will explore the wide range of ways in which advocacy plays an essential role in social change, and help you reimagine how advocacy can be an essential element in your philanthropic toolkit. Advocacy can transcend partisan politics, and we will learn about the many ways that the social sector relies on advocacy to achieve broad scale social change, even in our own backyard. Advocacy work is directly relevant to achieving SV2’s vision of creating a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area community and world where everyone thrives. The workshop will be facilitated by Christine Sherry of Sherry Consulting, and will feature guest speakers Amanda Stanley, Executive Director of COMPASS Science Communications, and Rebekah Saul Butler, Co-Executive Director of The Grove Foundation, who will each share how advocacy informs, infuses and is included in their work.

In the second session we will dig into the advocacy do’s and don’ts for social impact organizations and explore what advocacy can look like in action.

In the third session, we will focus on our own backyard, Silicon Valley, and SV2’s specific areas of interest. By the end of the series, we hope SV2 Partners, Grantees & Impact Investees, and the broader SV2 community will be better able to evaluate whether, when, and how they want to incorporate advocacy as a social change tool in their philanthropy and work. We look forward to having you join us for the first session on Friday, February 2 at 9:00am (RSVP here). More information on the following sessions and dates coming soon.

Pathways to Opportunity Classic Grant Round Kicks off in January

SV2’s Pathways to Opportunity year is well underway, with our fall learning season having wrapped up, and our Grant Round about to kick off. This fall, Partners heard from nine expert panelists, sharing from the perspectives of funders, researchers, and practitioners. We distilled their insights, along with sector research and Partner feedback, into a systems-level, strategic framework for the Grant Round, which you can view here. All the panels were recorded, and you can check out audio and video here.

A research team, made up of Grant Round Partner Leader Linda Lazor and Partners Criss De Guzman, Sayuri Sharper, and JoAnne Tillemans, with staff support from Jody Chang, took a deeper dive in November into specific focus areas. These focus areas were identified by our speakers as having proven impact in helping people move out of poverty and into economic sustainability, and include mental health and family engagement (both in education) and sector-based job training and social entrepreneurship (both in workforce development). The research team identified 10-18 organizations in each focus area, and Partners then nominated 4-6 organizations in each area to be invited to submit Letters of Interest for the Grant Round.

Next steps in the Round will include phone interviews with Executive Directors, review of full grant applications, a live “Pitch Event” where Partners will hear directly from four semi-finalists, site visits, and a grant decision. The Grant Round will run from January – May 2018, with meetings at lunchtime (the time preferred by a majority of Partners in our survey). SV2’s Classic Grant Rounds provide a comprehensive, hands-on grantmaking experience with lots of opportunities for Partner learning and engagement. We hope you’ll join us! Next meetings are on Thursday, January 18 (RSVP here) and Tuesday, February 13 (RSVP here).

Youth Law Center Highlight

We are delighted to introduce and welcome Youth Law Center (YLC) to the SV2 community! As winner of the November Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round, YLC will receive a one-year general operating support grant of $30,000.

The Youth Law Center is led by Jennifer Rodriguez, a former foster youth who also spent time in the juvenile justice system. When speaking about the organization’s work, Jennifer notes, “Our end goal is not simply to make things less bad for our [systems-involved] children but to do what we’d want for our own children which is that they are happy, feel loved, and that they thrive. This is so important and it informs all of our work…”

Over the last forty years, YLC has worked in California and across the United States to:

  • reduce the use of foster youth group homes
  • ensure safe and humane conditions in foster youth placements
  • keep children out of adult jails
  • secure equitable treatment for children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems

YLC approaches its work by listening to the voices of foster children and youth, their birth families, and foster and kinship families when deciding what problems to approach. They then integrate robust research to design litigation, systems change approaches and solutions from diverse fields such as child development, psychology, behavioral economics, marketing and branding, and adult learning.

We are energized by YLC’s efforts to transform the foster and juvenile justice systems, and we are thrilled that they are a part of our community.

To learn more, visit YLC’s website and stay tuned for future updates about YLC’s work.

Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round Kicks off in February

We are proud to announce that SV2’s newest  Lightning Grant Round will be focused on increasing opportunities for Resilient Youth (previously called At-Risk Youth), an issue in which Partners expressed interest in our recent all-Partner survey. This Round will be led by SV2 Board Member Shalyn Eason with staff support from Ashley Clark.

What do we mean by Resilient Youth? Resilient youth are young people, ages 14 to 26, who face significant barriers to life success. This population  could include foster youth, homeless/formerly homeless youth, disconnected young adults who are neither working nor in school, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young adults. This is a particularly vulnerable population where intervention and the right supports at the right time can transform life trajectories.

What is a Lightning Grant Round?

Lightning Grant Rounds are a shortened grantmaking experience, taking place over four to six weeks with only two in-person meetings. For the Lightning Rounds, SV2 collaborates with funder allies who nominate organizations from their own portfolios and share their diligence materials with us. Working with funder allies lessens the burden for nonprofits and allows Partners to learn how to conduct due diligence from experienced philanthropy professionals. For this Round, we’re delighted to work with the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

During Lightning Rounds, participating Partners have the opportunity to research 6-7 organizations in the sector, learn from other funders about these organizations and their grantmaking processes, hear presentations from the leaders of three finalist organizations, and collectively select a single Grantee. Lightning Round Grantees receive a one-year general operating support grant of up to $30,000, and participating Partners get to engage in a fantastic hands-on learning experience!

This sounds amazing! Tell me how to sign up…

In-person meetings for this spring’s Lightning Grant Round will be on Thursday, February 1 and Thursday, February 15 from 12:00pm-2:30pm at SV2. The Round will kick off in early January, before the first meeting, with diligence pre-work, which includes reading and optional conference calls with our funder allies.

What’s the deadline?

The deadline to participate in the full round has passed, but all Partners and prospective Partners are welcome to audit the first meeting on Thurs., Feb. 1, featuring presentations from our three finalists. If you would like to audit this meeting, please RSVP by emailing Ashley Clark.


Classic Grant Round Kicks off January 18th

In a first for SV2, the Pathways to Opportunity year combines a full season of learning (September-December) and then a full Grant Round (January-May), all focused on proven pathways out of poverty. We’re excited to kick off the Grant Round in January and hope you’ll join us! If you’d like to join the Grant Round, please fill out this short survey to indicate your preferred meeting days/times.

This fall, Partners heard from three panels of experts, sharing perspectives ranging from research to funder to practitioner, and then shared their top learnings and interests with the leader team.

Partner Leaders Linda Lazor and Alison Elliott have done a terrific job collating Partner feedback and interest, panelist perspectives, and research from the field into a thorough summary of the most promising levers for impact. A Partner research team is working in November to source pipeline organizations, and Partners will meet in person on December 5 (RSVP here) and virtually on December 6 (RSVP here) to choose the areas on which to focus the spring Grant Round. Details are still being planned, but stay tuned for some creative approaches including a possible “Pitch Night” as part of this Round in the spring. If you missed any of the learning sessions, you can access audio and video links of the panels, as well as the collated learning summary, here on my.SV2.

Impact Investee Highlight: Nepris

We’re thrilled to highlight Nepris, one of our earliest Impact Investees from 2016. Nepris received a one-time $50,000 investment from SV2 and will have access to support and networking opportunities through SV2.

Nepris offers real-time video conferencing and virtual tours to bring classroom teachings to life and promote student engagement. The platform is unique in connecting teachers to skilled professionals with a focus on matching teachers’ curriculum needs with professional skillsets. By carefully matching teacher needs to skillsets, Nepris inspires deeper student engagement and shows how classroom learning translates to real world careers. To date, Nepris has made over 3,800 virtual connections, with 97% of educators saying they would use Nepris in their classrooms again.

Nepris’ platform also overcomes the limitations of geography to reach over 148,000 students with live virtual sessions. While Nepris provides unique learning opportunities for all students to benefit, their virtual conferencing and tours are especially helpful to students in rural school districts and underserved communities. In a recent survey, Nepris found that 55% of the students reached were economically disadvantaged. As the data shows, Nepris actively extends education outreach and creates equity of access to empower all students on their learning journey. Learn more about Nepris and their exciting work on their website.

Announcing our First Resilient Youth Grantee

We’re pleased to announce the winner of SV2’s latest Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round – and to let you know that you still have a chance to participate in a second Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round, kicking off in January.

SV2’s Lightning Grant Rounds are a shorter grantmaking experience, taking place over just four to six weeks. SV2’s Lightning Rounds rely on funder allies, foundations who collaborate with SV2, by nominating organizations from their own portfolios and sharing their diligence materials with us. This lessens the burden for nonprofits and allows Partners to learn how to conduct due diligence from experienced philanthropy professionals. During Lightning Rounds, participating Partners review the diligence materials online, participate in conference calls with the funder allies, evaluate the finalists against a rubric we’ve developed, and collectively select a single Grantee. Lightning Round Grantees receive a one-year general operating support grant of up to $30,000.

“As a Grant Round participant, I walk away with a coherent strategy and framework for supporting this work in my personal philanthropy.”

– Keith Calix, SV2 Partner

Led by Partner Shalyn Eason and staff member Ashley Clark, the November Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round had an outstanding group of applicant organizations, each working in distinct ways to support resilient youth in the Bay Area. The November Round winner is Youth Law Center, an organization which advocates to transform the foster care and juvenile justice systems so that every child and youth can thrive. Youth Law Center will receive a one-time grant of $30,000.

 Partner Keith Calix participated in November and shared this perspective: “The recent Giving Code report illuminated the tremendous need here in Silicon Valley. Among those most vulnerable are ‘resilient youth’, which for our work, we defined as young people in the juvenile justice and/or foster care system who face tremendous adversity, trauma and/or stress. Those participating in the Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round assembled because we firmly believe that “EVERY young person deserves the support of a stable family environment and the chance to thrive in their community.” Participation in this round has allowed Partners to collaborate with and utilize the knowledge capital of funder allies who have deep sector expertise; generate a deeper understanding of the resilient youth ecosystem, including the host of direct service and advocacy supports needed to support this population, as well as a deeper appreciation of the work of local nonprofits working to support this population. As a grant round participant, I walk away with a coherent strategy and framework for supporting this work in my personal philanthropy.”

If you’re interested in joining the next Round, please email staff member Ashley Clark as soon as possible, but no later than January 5. In-person meetings will be on Thursday, February 1 and Thursday, February 15 from 12:00-2:30pm at SV2. The Round will begin in mid-January with diligence pre-work, which includes reviewing materials and participating in conference calls with our funder allies. We hope you can join us!

Hit Replay: Pathways to Opportunity – Workforce Development & Career Pathways Learning Session Recordings

Our Pathways to Opportunity – Workforce Development & Career Pathways Learning Session was the third session in our three-part learning series. The session was facilitated by Partner co-Leaders Alison Elliott and Linda Lazor. In order to share the learnings from this in-depth session with as many Partners as possible, we are sharing the video & audio of the panel on our YouTube channel (embedded below).

Audio Recording

Video Recording