One of our biggest corporate partners took a bold step last week to help more Boston youth stay in school and on track to graduate with options for a successful future. State Street Corporation announced a new initiative that deserves accolades not only because of the cause, but because of the best practices in corporate giving and service delivery that they’ve embedded in their efforts.
State Street announced a $20 million, four-year initiative aimed at placing 1,000 young people in jobs. Five proven organizations will receive one million dollars each per year for the next four years. We love this new initiative for three reasons:
1) Embrace multi-year funding. State Street is making a four-year commitment to each of the five organizations. We know this is critical to community-based organizations; our partner agencies report they highly value the multi-year commitments we have been providing to them since 2008. While the benefits to this approach from a budgetary perspective are obvious, multi-year commitments also signal to the agencies that the funder understands that sustainable change on complex, entrenched issues such as reducing homelessness or closing the achievement gap takes time. Providing community organizations with the resources they need over 3-5 years through a multi-year commitment allows them to spend more of their time on implementing their effective programming and less time on fundraising for the programs themselves.
2) Community-based organizations need more than funding. State Street’s new approach goes beyond dollars – they will also be providing volunteers and technical, skill-based support to their five partners. Nonprofits are thirsty for professional development and for skilled volunteers who are willing to lend their skills. State Street is making its mark in this arena in other ways, too. For the past year, State Street and United Way have partnered to provide technical assistance to 16 agencies that help economically disadvantaged youth and adults acquire skills and credentials they need to succeed in school and employment. The goal of the partnership is to improve these agencies’ ability to monitor performance, to use data to inform strategy, and, ultimately, to achieve positive results for local youth and adults.
3) Complex issues require a comprehensive focus. State Street isn’t just creating jobs for youth, they are investing in a pipeline that will take young people through high school and college graduation and onto meaningful employment. The work and support needed to nurture and develop 1,000 young people who are ready to work can’t start when they are 21. Ensuring success in high school starts with ensuring school readiness. And a child’s ability to succeed in school is profoundly influenced by his or her family’s economic situation and whether or not he or she has safe, secure housing.
State Street’s ambitious new effort also promises to benefit its current employees, providing them with opportunities to develop their own skills as Board members or by volunteering with the five nonprofit partners. This is the secret sauce that makes philanthropy real – the ability to roll up your sleeves and contribute as an individual in a way that is meaningful to you. That makes the passion of the architects of the effort contagious and enlists even more champions of the cause. Add that to seeing the impact you and your employer are making in the lives of real young people, and you have a winning combination for all.