The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Bigger and Better Capital Flow Creates Its Own Course

January 22, 2019

“The [Edna McConnell Clark Foundation] says it will ramp up its sharing of the big bank of knowledge it has built up in the course of its unusual practice. This should include information about how to successfully capitalize organizational growth, how to aggregate capital from a foundation base, how to effectively help grantees create a base of evidence (understanding the pattern of successes and failures in rapid organizational growth), and much more.

And that is one of the last things it will do as itself, since EMCF’s assets and many of its staff will be transitioning in 2019 to Blue Meridian Partners, a creature of its own making. EMCF, as was mentioned previously, has not just been spending its own money; instead, it has spent the past five years helping to attract other money to a new, collaboratively managed pool—Blue Meridian Partners (current asset base $1.7 billion, and that is not endowment). This entity, which has been incubated and informed by the foundation’s model of growth capital investment, is being incorporated as a stand-alone 501(c)(3). It is not intending to spend out anytime soon; instead, it expects to expand its work by continually attracting new partners and money to do multiyear, capital-intensive grantmaking to scale. In this case, “to scale” means at a level that will allow youth-serving programs with proven models the time, money, and guidance (where needed) to expand, fine-tune their practice, and help shape effective state and national youth policy.

In practical terms, each of Blue Meridian’s grantees will be provided with as many as ten to twelve years of performance-based investments totaling as much as $200 million. Thus, the grants will not only act as “patient capital” (as it is referred to in business), but also the grant levels, committed for a decade, will be sufficient to set these organizations on a path to assured and sustainable impact.

The model emphasizes organizational strengthening over time, allowing for periodic realignment of parts, world-class evaluation, and the kind of course changes that may flow from learning pains at each successive stage of growth. In other words, these grants are made in such a way as to allow for continuous, even quite aggressive development toward implementation of an organization’s mission and vision—which, in all cases, is aimed at helping to improve the lives of low-income children and families. And the whole endeavor is driven by the grantee, whose progress is then monitored and supported by the foundation.”

Read the full article via Nonprofit Quarterly

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