Scaling Solutions Nationally
We believe in taking what works – programs and strategies based on evidence and already producing results in one or more states or across several cities – and making right-sized investments that bring those strategies to scale nationally. We believe in the power of scale to create a greater impact and touch more lives. Poverty is a complex and immense social issue. There is no silver bullet, no one solution to the numerous problems that trap young people and families in poverty in the US, so we invest in solutions across domains that seek to increase economic mobility in a variety of ways.
Visionary leaders with evidence-based programs are making a meaningful difference in the lives of young people and families across the country. Yet philanthropy’s prevailing model hinders leaders’ ability to think bigger and act boldly to pursue nationwide growth. The market prioritizes small-dollar grants over the large, unrestricted growth capital leaders need to meet the scale of the problems they address. Larger grants, especially of $1 million dollars or more, are rare and often come with restrictions, stifling innovation and expansion.
is the average grant size
Blue Meridian makes investments of $100 million or more in a single initiative that will implement its bold, national scaling plan over several years. These large-scale, long-term investments allow exceptional leaders to unleash their visions with confidence that they have the capital they need to make a meaningful impact against a significant social problem. This model of unprecedented, right-sized growth capital has the potential to improve life trajectories nationwide and could become the new normal for philanthropic investing.
or more of cumulative investment by Blue Meridian in a single initiative
Over 20,000 youth age out of foster care annually. One in four becomes homeless, and 80% cannot support themselves. Youth Villages is working to change this with its LifeSet program, which provides transitional services to these youth, as well as others in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges. Youth Villages aims to ensure that every youth who ages out of foster care has access to LifeSet or a peer program with comparable results.
At scale, Youth Villages can transform the life prospects of youth aging out by supporting a successful transition into healthy, productive adulthood.
Five million young adults in the US, ages 18-24, are chronically unemployed or underemployed, imperiling their futures and costing America billions of dollars. Year Up’s intensive one-year training program offers hands-on skill development, coursework eligible for college credits and corporate internships designed to prepare these young adults for “middle skill” positions. Year Up bridges the gap between talented young adults seeking a pathway to well-paying professional careers, and companies eager for a well-trained workforce and a cost-effective way to meet their talent needs. At scale, Year Up offers a platform to set millions of young adults – cut off from economic opportunity – on a path out of poverty.
Approximately 50,000 youth in foster care have an especially difficult time finding a permanent home and face a host of negative outcomes if they remain in foster care or when they age out of the system. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, uses a unique recruitment model to match the hardest‐to‐place children – those ages nine or older, with special needs, or in sibling groups – with appropriate adoptive families. Its model is 1.7 to 3 times more effective than conventional placement models. At scale, it has the potential to transform foster care systems across the country, setting new standard practices for matching hard-to-place children with families.
Unplanned pregnancy is one of the strongest predictors of future poverty. Upstream USA aims to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty for the women who have 3 million unplanned pregnancies every year. Upstream USA provides training and technical assistance to family planning and health centers across the country, so they can provide access to the full range of contraceptive methods including long-acting, reversible contraception – reducing unplanned pregnancies, and improving economic opportunity, educational attainment and upward mobility for both parents and children.
Children living in poverty are more likely to fall behind in social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral development. While low-income children under age four can be difficult to reach in formal settings such as pre-kindergarten, 90% of them visit a pediatrician. HealthySteps, a program of ZERO TO THREE, is a national model of enhanced pediatric primary care that integrates a child development specialist into the primary care team to improve developmental outcomes with a particular emphasis on families living in low-income communities. Screening, advice and referrals give families the knowledge, support and resources they need to nurture their children’s healthy development.
Every year, 380,000 children are born to first-time mothers living below the federal poverty line who often lack adequate support during their child’s critical early years, leading to long-term consequences for their children. Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is a national home visitation program that has achieved remarkable results. Backed by four decades of scientific research, NFP’s approach has been shown to improve pregnancy outcomes, strengthen the economic self-sufficiency of mothers, and support the health and development of their children. At scale, NFP has the potential to combat the effects of poverty nationally by transforming the life prospects of these mothers and their children.
The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) works to break the cycle of reincarceration and poverty by helping individuals returning from prison to find jobs and successfully transition back into their communities. By providing immediate paid employment, skills training and wraparound vocational supports, CEO helps formerly incarcerated individuals with short- and long-term employment needs, building a foundation for a productive future. Originally established by the Vera Institute of Justice, CEO has the most robust evidence base of any re‐entry employment program.
Every day, thousands of legally innocent people are detained in jails across the country simply because they are unable to pay the bail that would allow them to stay in their communities. This leads to an array of potential harms, including exposure to violence inside jail and jeopardizing housing, employment and access to public benefits. Increased pressure to plead guilty also burdens many with criminal records, which have damaging effects on their long-term economic prospects and personal lives. The Bail Project uses a national revolving bail fund to pay bail for low-income individuals, alleviating stressors that exacerbate poverty. At scale, The Bail Project’s model represents an immediate and highly actionable approach for effective pretrial reform. The Bail Project’s ultimate aim is to end unaffordable cash bail in the US.
Despite the growing need for talent, a skills gap persists for low-income individuals hoping to obtain in-demand jobs. U.S. businesses are expected to hire for more than 8 million new positions over the next decade, against a backdrop of approximately 7 million currently unfilled openings. Social Finance is dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. The organization brings partners together to measurably improve the lives of those in need through a set of financing strategies. Their UP Fund will provide low-income individuals with access to high-quality, industry-recognized job training programs and other needed supports to help them achieve economic mobility, while building the inclusive, skilled labor force the nation needs for long-term competitiveness.