Friday, March 14, 2014

Importing Innovation for Big Community Impact

The following post by GreenLight Bay Area executive director Casey Johnson appeared on Opportunity for All on Wednesday, March 14, 2014.

At GreenLight Fund, importing is at the very core of what we do — Boston, Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay Area on an annual basis. We import proven nonprofit models into our communities when we know that they will address a critical gap in services for low-income children, youth and families and achieve measurable results.

To achieve our mission of changing the life trajectories of children and families in GreenLight’s three communities, we must do this importing well, with significant work on the front-end – selecting organizations to join our portfolio – AND on the back-end – launching and supporting those organizations in our GreenLight communities.

Front-end: Selection
GreenLight first spends a tremendous amount of time identifying and understanding the most critical needs facing low-income children, youth and families in our communities. We lean on community leaders, philanthropic leaders, recent data and policy reports, as well as our local Selection Advisory Council, to help us identify urgent needs in the community. We hone in on the gaps where services are not being provided by the existing nonprofit and public sectors, and then search the country to find models that have a proven track record of meeting these needs in other cities. We look for program innovation and results, past experience with scaling and growth, adaptability, as well as strong leadership and operational excellence. Our diligence is a rigorous process, designed to ask the tough questions and get the right answers from potential organizations, and ensure a strong fit within the local community. This deep due diligence takes between 9-12 months. Once selected by GreenLight, the work does not end there – we then partner with the selected organization to build a strong foundation locally.

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