Thursday, December 8, 2016

Foundation to Pool $1 Billion to Help a Group of Handpicked Poverty Charities

Nancy Roob, Chief Executive of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, a Social-Services Grant maker with $1 billion in assets since 2005, recently launched Blue Meridian Partners with the goal of changing the life trajectories of U.S. Children in Poverty. Following a strategy she pioneered, the new grant-making collaborative aims to pool $1 billion from business Leaders and focus on just a few Charities in order to make a big impact nationwide. Outside of Warren Buffet’s $30 billion gift to the Gates Foundation, this would be the biggest private investment yet in the social-services sector.

Edna McConnell Clark was the daughter of Avon Products founder David McConnell.

Roob started Blue Meridian Partners in order to solve problems on a large scale, significantly larger amounts of capital need to come together to help leaders be more effective in their strategy. The New York City donors are several general partners based in New York or have strong interests here: our Board Chair, Stanley Druckenmiller; Barbara Picower and the JPB Foundation; and Arthur, Becky and Laura Samberg of the Samberg Family Foundation. They all met by investing collaboratively in Harlem Children’s Zone and backing the work of Founder Geoff Canada and raised $750 million so far.

They are looking for Nonprofits that are making a difference for the most disadvantaged children in poverty, those who are in and out of the welfare system, most likely to not complete school, end up pregnant too early, and are in and out of prison. Every year, about 23,000 people age out of the foster system and have very poor life prospects. One in four becomes homeless. There’s an incredible urgency to address some of these systemic issues in poverty that are hurting the next generation of young people.

They have made planning investments of $1 million to $8 million in five Nonprofits. Two are active in New York: the Colorado-based Nurse-Family Partnership, which matches visiting nurses with at-risk new mothers, is sponsored by the City’s Health Department and serves all five boroughs; and D.C.-based HealthySteps, which provides low-income families with an adviser for their children’s medical care. It currently operates 20 sites out of Montefiore Medical Center. They are helping the five organizations put together major growth plans. Then they will make long-term investments of $100 million to $200 million to help them expand nationwide.

They believe all their grantees will impact New York, either directly by expanding into the City, or indirectly by sharing best practices. In fact, one of New York’s most promising successes, the Harlem Children’s Zone, serves as a role model for many Blue Meridian General Partners. Geoff demonstrated how it’s possible to alter the prospects of an entire community of kids by bringing a diverse group of philanthropists together behind a common vision and a single business plan.

How will the Trump Election impact the social-services sector? Many of their grantees are highly dependent on Government, not just funding, but Policy Making. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty about what to expect.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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