A recently announced four-year, $17 million grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) to the national nonprofit Communities in Schools (CIS) to help fund its new strategic business plan clearly demonstrates the returns of heavily investing in data collection, promoting a culture of learning, and balancing the inherent tension between a national brand and local flexibility. As readers may remember, EMCF is “spending down” its corpus by investing heavily in youth-serving organizations that have proven their models, often through grants already structured to promote comprehensive growth. At the time, leadership of the foundation wrote:
We realize the decision to sunset a thriving institution is unusual. As a board, we began discussing this option many years ago as we watched our grantees and other nonprofits struggle during and after the Great Recession. Following much exploration, we all agreed that expanding and accelerating our investment approach, in partnership with others, provided our best shot at fulfilling EMCF’s mission now. Being able to build on the momentum capital aggregation has gained and contributing to meaningful innovation in philanthropy are the prime reasons for our decision. Given the urgent needs of youth in our country, the opportunity to dramatically step up our game and our giving is the right decision for us.
This report about one of its grantees, then, follows up on the model, which is described here.
CIS is the nation’s largest provider of Integrated Student Supports, an approach to closing educational achievement gaps for at-risk youth by ensuring that targeted students secure critical academic and non-academic supports that both focus on individual needs and that are integrated into a school’s daily rhythms. In the 2016-17 school year, this national network of 135 local affiliates served nearly 1.6 million students in 2350 schools (from elementary to high school) in 25 states and DC. Through CIS’ model, affiliates place site coordinators in target schools who then establish systems that provide services to both the whole schools and individual students. Site coordinators deliver some services directly and find outside partners to deliver others.Read Debby’s Full Article at Nonprofit Quarterly
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