Our Investments

Blue Meridian is building a best-in-class portfolio of solutions that are transforming the lives of young people and families in poverty. We view our philanthropic grants as “investments” in order to bring these solutions to regional or national scale.

National Investments

Each Blue Meridian investee pursues an ambitious goal: solving a significant social problem that keeps young people and families in poverty from leading healthy, successful lives.

The majority of our investment portfolio consists of organizations seeking to bring their evidence-based strategies to national scale.

Blue Meridian’s large-scale investments carry commitments of up to $200 million over 10–12 years. These investments are approved in two- to four-year phases with annual payout based on meeting performance milestones.

To date, we have invested in the following organizations seeking to scale nationally :

Youth Villages, YV Lifeset

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 YVLifeSet 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 YVLifeSet 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.

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Year Up

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.

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Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

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.

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Upstream USA

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.

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a program of ZERO TO THREE

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.

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Nurse-Family Partnership

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.

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Center for Employment Opportunities

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.

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Regional Investments

Complementing our national investments, Blue Meridian also invests in regional strategies. These strategies integrate the evidence-based programs of our national investees into a comprehensive continuum of local services aimed at realizing community-wide impact and producing the best possible outcomes for young people and families in poverty. If successful, these regional strategies could serve as models for communities across the country, offering a roadmap for achieving collective impact and incorporating national, evidence-based programs into local systems.

Currently, Blue Meridian invests in two regional strategies – in Tulsa and North Carolina – spearheaded by our General Partners.

Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa

Spearheaded by George Kaiser Family Foundation

The Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST), an initiative spearheaded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, will increase the supply of and access to evidence-based programs for families and children from pre-conception through age eight in Tulsa County, OK. By providing a continuum of care and help navigating a range of services, BEST aims to ensure that every child meets developmental milestones, lives in a supportive family, and succeeds in school by third grade.

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Get Ready Guilford Initiative

Spearheaded by The Duke Endowment

The Get Ready Guilford Initiative seeks to support the physical, social-emotional and cognitive well-being of children from birth to age eight in Guilford County, North Carolina region. The strategy, spearheaded by The Duke Endowment, aims to accelerate existing local efforts to improve early childhood outcomes—including healthy births, infant/toddler development, school readiness, and success by third grade—by bringing evidence-based programs to greater scale in these areas, improving the quality of local programs and catalyzing collective impact efforts.

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In Planning

Planning for scale is a critical element of Blue Meridian’s performance-based investment approach. Scaling plans serve as blueprints for growth with quality and help organizations prepare for the challenge of rapid expansion and greater impact. Additionally, these scaling plans are what Blue Meridian uses as the basis for structuring investments. During this planning phase, Blue Meridian provides grants (ranging from 6-months to 2-years) so that investees not only develop a scaling plan but can also start to fill leadership and capacity gaps, pilot new approaches and conduct additional evaluation.

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The Bail Project

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.