This $3M partnership between Philly funders prioritizes collaboration over competition - Generocity Philly

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Jan. 16, 2019 2:03 pm

This $3M partnership between Philly funders prioritizes collaboration over competition

The initiative from the local United Way, Scattergood Foundation, Barra Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation and others will support nonprofit leaders in capacity and skills building.

The RISE Partnership team.

(Photo by Grace Shallow)

Update: The Horner Foundation has been added as a funding partner. (1/17, 10:40 a.m.)
Social change in the Philadelphia region has reminded Bill Golderer, the president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, of a contact sport.

But the goal of the newly established $3 million RISE Partnership — which United Way is partly funding — isn’t competition: Instead, it’s using collaboration to increase the effectiveness of organizations in the Philadelphia region. It kicked off at United Way’s headquarters on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Tuesday.

The opportunity of “the RISE Partnership is that there is rare coming together of a constellation of people who are very impatient with the current state of affairs,” Golderer said.

The partnership’s three components — Readiness, Implementation and Sustainability for Effectiveness — have separate goals and procedures:

  • Readiness is aimed at educating nonprofits about internal evaluation skills. Over three years, 50 organizations will go through RISE’s readiness component, which includes up to 12 hours of training and up to two hours of individual consultation over nine months. Applications are open now to organizations.
  • The two-year implementation portion of RISE helps organizations enhance their impact by improving their data collection, analysis and application. Fifteen youth-serving groups will be hand-picked for this phase.
  • Lastly, the sustainability portion helps nonprofits that have gone through prior RISE trainings continue their internal improvement and encourages them to share proven solutions or experiences via an online platform. By the partnership’s third year, up to 100 organizations will belong to this group, said RISE’s director, Samantha Matlin.

A handful of local and national organizations are joining United Way as funders and participators in the partnership: Scattergood Foundation, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Barra Foundation, Campbell Soup Foundation, Grace S. and W. Linton Nelson Foundation, The Horner Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.

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The partnership’s model has roots in Philadelphia, as it draws inspiration from Scattergood’s Building Evaluation Capacity Initiative (BECI); alumni of BECI are also welcomed into RISE’s sustainability portion. (United Way funds BECI, too, alongside the Barra Foundation and The Philadelphia Foundation.) RISE is also based on the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s PropelNext program and is the California-based organization’s first regional cohort outside of the state.

BECI was developed in 2011 with The Consultation Center at Yale, said Joe Pyle, Scattergood’s president, on Tuesday. The Consultation Center, which is based out of New Haven, Connecticut, focuses on improving health and wellness programs’ services.

Jack Tebes, the center’s director, said BECI is linked to a 50 percent increase in evaluation knowledge and a 35 percent in evaluation skills for participants. The program is effective because it specifies what goals organizations have and what they have to do to accomplish them.

RISE will cover territory outside of BECI’s realm by including organizations from southern New Jersey. For example, the Campbell Soup Foundation is based in Camden, which has a poverty rate of 38.4 percent. Camden County has the second-highest rate of violent crimes and homicide in the state. Philadelphia is stuck at a poverty rate of 25.7 percent, and is located in the county with the most violent crimes and homicide in the state.

Pyle said RISE will help organizations better serve vulnerable populations.

“I don’t think any of the problems that the communities that we work in can be solved by any one of us,” he added. “It really does take a community effort.”

Matlin said a possible approach to facing issues is improving the city’s system-wide data collection and use. She said the RISE Partnership hopes to build off relationships between nonprofits and the government.

The partnership is facing intimidating issues, but RISE is excited to get to work as a team, Matlin said.

“I think a lot of organizations and funders could just be doing this on their own but being willing to partner and compromise and collaborate with other funders is really exciting,” she said.

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