We’ve moved!

November 11, 2013

The Social Venture Partners Los Angeles blog has moved!  Please visit our newly redesigned blog at:  http://www.socialventurepartners.org/los-angeles/blog/.


Welcoming Promesa Boyle Heights and South LA Child Welfare Initiative to SVP

August 6, 2013

Social Venture Partners is excited to announce that our two new Advisees for 2013-2014 are:

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Evolution of an Investee: Reflection on Investee GrowingGreat

August 6, 2013

Get Healthy with GrowingGreat!An SVP Investee since late 2009, GrowingGreat’s mission is to inspire children and adults to adopt healthy eating habits through innovative classroom nutrition lessons, school gardens and community events.  Here’s what Lead Partner Lance Tendler had to say about working with GrowingGreat.

Q: What attracted you to volunteering with GrowingGreat?
I was a coach for the 2009 Social Innovation Fast Pitch, and GrowingGreat was one of the organizations participating. Co-founder Peggy Curry was representing GG. Her energy is very infectious and I was quickly won over by her presence, and her passion for the cause of nutrition education and inspiring healthy eating habits. LASVP Partner Steve Raymond was guiding GrowingGreat through the process of applying to be an Investee of LASVP, and was looking for a co-lead Partner, and I quickly agreed. GrowingGreat’s work is universal – it’s a cause that is relevant to all of us regardless of economic status, race, or creed.

Rita with lettuce_smallQ: Where do you think LASVP Partners have added the most value to GrowingGreat?
The Board of GrowingGreat is small but competent, and the organization had a history of relative success prior to allying with LASVP. Early on Steve led a technology initiative relative to rebuilding the GG website, and the migration to a web delivery model for GrowingGreat’s classroom content and teaching plan. But generally, I would say that the greatest value came at a high level such as strategic planning, governance and board development, which is helping them evolve from a very volunteer-based organization to one with experienced professional staff. LASVP helped facilitate an intensive strategic planning initiative, and LASVP sponsored GrowingGreat’s participation in the Annenberg Alchemy program which focuses on Board Governance and best practices.

ggbuild2Q: What’s next for GrowingGreat?
The organization is making an important transition in terms of service delivery. Initially a lot of the food handling, documentation delivery, teaching and instruction was organized and provided directly by GrowingGreat volunteers and staff. The classroom lessons and content are loaded onto the site now, which creates an opportunity to deliver GrowingGreat value to a significantly larger footprint. By emphasizing the content, and phasing out the physical delivery, GrowingGreat really becomes a national force.

Partner Q&A: Cindy Jones

August 5, 2013

Cindy JonesDuring Cindy’s professional career in real estate fund development, she developed and managed a $700 million real estate fund, was named by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the top ten rising stars and one of the one hundred most influential people in real estate.  After retiring in 2000, she turned her talents to working with non-profits, helping them develop their best practices in development, communication and funding.  She has also advanced her education in the field of photography, cinematography, computer graphics and design and uses these skills in assisting non-profits with their promotional material.

Cindy’s previous careers include working as a respiratory therapist in the post-op open-heart unit, as well as modelling and acting in thousands of advertisements, catalogs, commercials, magazines and promotional pieces.  She was educated at Kansas University in Respiratory Therapy and Biology.  Cindy became a SVP Partner in 2011, and has served as a coach in the Social Innovation Fast Pitch program. 

Q:  How were you introduced to SVP?
  I was introduced to SVP by Partner Ken Deemer through Tech Coast Angels, a group of 250 private investors who fund early-stage technology companies in Southern California.

Q:  What inspires you to make a difference?
  Because I have the funds to do so and my parents taught me generosity.  There was no other way in our house.

Q:  What social issue are you most passionate about?
  Kids being kids.

Q:  Which nonprofit organization do you wish everyone knew about?
  I wish everyone knew about the Boys and Girls Club of Mar Vista.  My husband and I are the founders, and the Boys and Girls Club of Mar Vista is uniquely located to service hundreds of kids a day (300 and growing). We are now renovating the facility and our hope is to turn it into a flagship facility for the Boys & Girls Club with both indoor and outdoor recreational activities for the kids.  The facility includes outdoor baseball field, running track, basketball courts, adult and children’s play and exercise areas, picnic tables and the indoor facility has a gym, commercial kitchen, computer center, study room, teen center and art center.

Q:  What do you think is the biggest barrier to creating social change?
  To really think and not just act on all emotions.

Q:  What book are you reading right now?
I am currently reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

July 5, 2013

South%20SCAccording to 2010 Fast Pitch Presenter Meredith Curry, before going through the Fast Pitch program, “There was no way for me to explain what we did in less than 15 minutes.”

Meredith Curry presented in Fast Pitch during her tenure as Executive Director of South Central Scholars, a nonprofit that provides a support network to ensure that underprivileged students are equipped with the tools they need to graduate from college and succeed in life.  South Central Scholars is a multi-faceted organization with a diverse offering of programs and services.

After the Social Innovation Fast Pitch, Meredith could break down the essential facts about South Central Scholars in less than 3 minutes in a way that is interesting and compelling.  Meredith certainly grabbed the judges’ interest at the Fast Pitch competition, taking home the prize for Best Pitch.

South Central ScholarsIn addition to the $5,000 Best Pitch prize that they received, South Central Scholars made connections with audience members at the Fast Pitch event that led to new volunteers for the organization and a $25,000 grant to put towards STEM scholarships (science, technology, engineering and math).  Meredith also sustained her relationship with her Fast Pitch coaches, who still serve as her personal and professional mentors.  “My coaches were fantastic,” says Meredith. “They are two of the most supportive people I have met in my professional career.”

Fast Pitch also helped Meredith connect with her peers in the nonprofit sphere.  She realized that nonprofit professionals have few opportunities to connect with each other in their day-to-day work, so “the opportunity for collaboration and networking between nonprofits through the programs LASVP provides is super valuable.”  Meredith still meets with three other Fast Pitch participants regularly to share resources and offer each other support.  Inspired to keep the collaborative spirit going, she also started the College Access Brain Trust, a group for nonprofit professionals working to help all students achieve college access and success. “We can talk about how to improve what we do and build off each other’s work, and that’s been a great learning experience.”

Fast Pitch is “a gift that keeps on giving,” says Meredith. “I tell every nonprofit to apply for Fast Pitch… It’s an amazing resource.”

At the time of her pitch in 2010, Meredith was Executive Director of South Central Scholars.  Currently, Meredith is the Director of Operations at the California College Guidance Initiative.  You can watch Meredith’s pitch below:

For more information about the Social Innovation Fast Pitch, click here or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Becoming a Stronger Executive Director: Professional Development through Fast Pitch

July 5, 2013

Alina Bodke Pitching“One thousand people crammed into a two car garage. This is the amount of green space a child growing up in a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles can ever hope to have.” This shocking fact was delivered to the 2012 Social Innovation Fast Pitch audience by Alina Bokde, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT). LANLT’s work to secure land for future parks and gardens in low-income areas builds up communities. Opportunities for exercise, community engagement, citizen leadership, and safe and fun time outside are given in the green spaces LANLT secures. And Alina’s Fast Pitch experience helped her articulate “not just why the Land Trust is important, but why the issue of green spaces is so important.”

Working with her Fast Pitch coaches, Alina found new ways to connect with her audiences and deliver her powerful message. “I used to say a child had .01 acres of green space. Nobody knows what that is. But now I can say ‘a thousand people in a two-car garage’ and people can understand that. They can see it.” Alina continues to weave elements of her pitch into her other speaking engagements and says that having strong statements already in mind has been very helpful.

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust LogoShe’s even getting her staff on board! “It was great for me to have dedicated time for professional development and I wanted to share that with my staff.” Alina says “you hear about elevator pitches all the time, but that was something I had never been trained on,” and now the whole LANLT staff is receiving the training. Sharing her experience, Alina asked everyone on her staff to create a 3-minute elevator speech about LANLT and how they contribute to the organization. “It really got the staff listening to each other – critiquing one another, reviewing together, sharing language with one another, learning things from each other.”

Alina says, “It’s great how the pitch and process has really translated to other areas. [Fast Pitch] made me a stronger executive director.”

Alina Bokde is the Executive Director of Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT). Watch her pitch from the 2012 competition below:

For more information about the Social Innovation Fast Pitch, click here or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Partner Q&A: Bettina O’Mara

July 5, 2013

Bettina O'MaraSVP Partner and member of the Social Innovation Fast Pitch Planning Committee, Bettina O’Mara started in the Publicity and Promotion department at Castle Rock Entertainment. She founded their Product Placement division and then became a consultant to them when she created her own company, Visualeyes Productions. She moved from Placement and Promotions into full time Producing of independent films. Bettina has been a Partner since 2011.

Q: How were you introduced to LASVP?
Bettina: Through my brother, SVP Partner Lance Tendler.

Q: What project are you working on with SVP? Why did you choose to get involved this way?
Bettina: Helping with planning the Social Innovation Fast Pitch. Early in my career, I planned the large premieres for Castle Rock Entertainment and loved it. I am hoping those skills help SVP!

Q: What is the most memorable experience you’ve had with SVP so far?
Bettina: I love learning about the nonprofits that we work with as well as those that apply for our programs, but I have to say my first Fast Pitch event was my favorite. I enjoyed it immensely. While I really don’t have a favorite Fast Pitch organization, I have found quite a few organizations that I am so thrilled are out there helping those in need.

Q: What do you listen to when you’re stuck in traffic?
Bettina: I listen to comedy! It makes me laugh the whole ride.

Q: What social issue are you most passionate about?
Bettina: There are a few causes I am deeply connected to: animal rescue, children in need, and medical research.

Q: What do you look forward to on the weekends?
Bettina: Sleeping in! Although with a two-year-old golden, it’s not easy.

Q: What inspires you to make a difference?
Bettina: I feel that I have been very lucky in life and I think it’s important to give back and pay it forward whenever we can.