Month: March 2017

Don’t Miss The Big Think-A-Thon

Don’t miss SV2’s Spring Gathering: The Big Think-A-Thon on Tuesday, May 2 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. We’ll hear from nine of our Grantees and Impact Investees, who will each share a rapid-fire pitch on a challenge they are currently facing, then break into small groups to brainstorm actionable solutions together.

We’ll also have plenty of time to connect with old and new friends, and we’ll honor the recipient of the 2017 Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Social Impact Award. RSVP today! 

The Big Think-A-Thon will spotlight nine of our spectacular Grantees and Impact Investees:

In 90-second presentations, Grantees & Impact Investees will share a challenge with which they’re wrestling right now. Check out this video from last year’s Big Think-A-Thon to see this in action. Then, we’ll harness the collective knowledge and talent in the room as attendees join in small group conversations with Grantees & Impact Investees to generate solutions together.

This event will stretch your creative and problem-solving muscles, fuel your inspiration, and deepen your relationships across the SV2 community, including with Grantees & Impact Investees. SV2 Grantees & Impact Investees will walk away with actionable ideas and everyone will leave with new connections and renewed energy for making positive social impact in our Bay Area community and beyond. RSVP here.

Welcome, uAspire

We’re pleased to announce that uAspire is the winner of this year’s first Education Lightning Grant Round, which was led by Partners Jim Basile and Aarti Chandna, and focused on College Access and Success. uAspire will receive a one-time $30,000 grant and opportunities to connect with our Partnership over the next 12 months. We’re offering a repeat version of the Education Lightning Round, and we hope you’ll join us on May 17 and May 31 for this final Lightning Round of the year. RSVP deadline is May 3 to allow for pre-diligence work. If you are a current Partner and would like to participate in the Round or learn more, please email Jody Chang.

Each Lightning Grant Round is offered twice in order to leverage the opportunity for SV2 Partners to learn directly from our funder allies, who nominate best in class grantees from their own portfolios and then share their sector and diligence expertise with us. The Education Lightning Grant Round had a pool of seven applicants, nominated by our funder allies, Sobrato Family Foundation and Westly Foundation. uAspire was chosen as the Grantee in the March Round, and the May Round will consider the same pool of applicants, excepting uAspire.

uAspire’s work is laser-focused on removing the financial barriers to both college access and success by embedding their College Affordability Advisors in high schools, where they support and mentor students one-on-one so they have the information and resources they need to make an informed choice about where to go to college and how to pay for it. We are thrilled to welcome uAspire to our portfolio and look forward to learning more about their important work in the year to come!

Grantee Spotlight: The Big Lift

The Big Lift, a 2014-17 SV2 Grantee, is a collective impact initiative uniting San Mateo County toward the common goal of raising the percentage of county third graders reading at grade level from 50% to 80% by 2020.

At the end of The Big Lift’s three-year tenure with SV2, we’re looking back at the incredible work they’ve accomplished since they joined the portfolio. Highlights include expanding their initiative to include 300 businesses and organizations; securing over $30 million in funding, including a $16.9 million White House Social Innovation Grant; and launching their ambitious literacy program in seven pilot communities. Congrats, Big Lift!

The Big Lift’s evidence-based plan focuses on four key initiatives proven to boost third-grade reading – kindergarten readiness, summer enrichment, reducing chronic school absenteeism, and supporting learning at home. After rigorously researching the educational landscape of San Mateo County, the Big Lift launched this plan in seven pilot school districts across the county.

The Big Lift was SV2’s first collective impact Grantee, and Partners have enthusiastically engaged with The Big Lift Beyond-the-Dollars, with Lead Partners Marcia Pade and Kelly Pope at the helm. Partners worked with The Big Lift on launching its preschool and summer learning programs, including assistance in the selection of a firm to evaluate the Big Lift’s impact. Kelly Pope serves as an edtech advisor to The Big Lift, helping them assess the best early learning technology programs to serve their goals. Also, through a strategic alliance with SV2, the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team analyzed the long-term return on investment that quality preschool learning could have on students in San Mateo County.

Learn more about volunteering with The Big Lift here. And come see the Big Lift in action on May 2 at the SV2 Big Think-A-Thon, where you can help Big Lift Lead Strategists Jane Gardner and Joe Rodriguez brainstorm actionable solutions to a challenge they are currently facing – RSVP here. As the Big Lift graduates from the SV2 portfolio, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for these remarkable changemakers!

VIDEO: The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Equity

On Thurs., March 9, SV2 hosted a dynamic discussion around the role of philanthropy in advancing equity. The panel, moderated by SV2’s Director of Grantee Impact, Ashley Clark, featured an outstanding lineup of philanthropy practitioners including Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation; Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers; and Justin Steele, Principal at If you couldn’t make it but are curious to learn more, you can check out the video here.

During the conversation, we discussed what exactly equity is (spoiler alert: there are some great images that you’ll want to check out!), why this work is integral to grantmaking, how we can advance equity as individuals, and what it might look like for a philanthropic organization to focus on equity.

In this session, we established some common language around the meaning of equity, diversity, and inclusion, as we reflected together on  how we might continue our learning journey individually and as an organization. And because we could only cover so much in an hour and a half, we hope that this conversation will be the first of many.

A number of SV2 Partners have expressed an interest in the creation of a my.SV2 group to share articles and learning opportunities and engage in further discussion related to philanthropy and equity. If you’d like to be added to the distribution list, please email Ashley Clark.

Impact Investing Springboard Learning Session: Meet the Action Leaders

On the evening of Thursday, April 13, we’ll explore how we can move from awareness to action – as an organization and as individual investors regardless of portfolio size. Top field leaders from Omidyar Network and Toniic will share their thinking, research and deep experience with values-aligned portfolios, what it means to generate positive social impact, as well as frameworks for evaluating appropriate returns across asset classes and sectors. Participants will then put these frameworks into action by applying them to OpenInvest, a recent SV2 investee, and Village Enterprise, current SV2 Grantee.
Presenters: Robynn Steffen, Senior Manager Impact Investing, Omidyar NetworkAdam Bendell, CEO, ToniicDianne Calvi, CEO, Village Enterprise (SV2 Grantee); and Joshua Levin, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, OpenInvest (SV2 Investee).

Part One: Impact Investing in Action: Action Leaders

Adam Bendell, CEO of Toniic will share early findings from the Toniic 100, a cohort of investors who have committed to 100% Impact Portfolios. The T100 Research Report is full of insights and data that can inform both SV2 and individual journeys from “awareness to action”. The T100 Launch – Insights from the Frontier of Impact Investing 2016  is available from Toniic here.

Robynn Steffen, Senior Manager Impact Investing, Omidyar Network will share Omidyar’s work – presenting the framework set forth in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) article Across the Returns Continuum, along with lessons from Omidyar’s extensive and sustained on-the-ground experience. Robynn will also share how this framework has become a useful tool and could be used by SV2 and our Partners.

The presentations will be followed by open Q&A.

Part Two:  Impact Investing in Action: Emerging Innovation Leaders

We’ll then shift to presentations from two SV2-affiliated organizations that are innovating in the impact investing ecosystem. Joshua Levin, co-founder of recent SV2 Investee OpenInvest, will present how their platform supports “socially responsible investing made easy”.  Dianne Calvi, CEO of  SV2 Grantee, Village Enterprise, will present their plans for the “first development impact bond in poverty alleviation”. After hearing about the impact and business models of these ventures and open Q&A, attendees will engage “hands on” — similar to the SV2 Impact Investing Working Group – discussing potential direct and/or market level impact, as well as how these organizations map into selected Omidyar and Toniic frameworks.