Congratulations to Synergy Academies

December 4, 2012

synergy-academiesSynergy Academies has been an LASVP Investee since 2010. With the opening of their high school, Synergy Quantum Academy, in 2011, Synergy Academies now reaches 1,200 K-12 students in South LA.

At Synergy Academies the values of hardwork, encouragement, and accomplishment are just some of the ways the staff and student “scholars” are creating an equal opportunity learning experience in South Los Angeles. As a charter school, Synergy accepts all types of students with a range of abilities and learning backgrounds who come from impoverished and underdeveloped inner-city areas. The Synergy student body is predominately composed of African American, Hispanic, and Latino students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Historically, these students would have found themselves in a school that was performing significantly lower than their counterparts in affluent communities. Despite the struggles these scholars face, “The Synergy Creed” brings the learning community together.

The Synergy Creed:
At Synergy, we’re all in this together because together we are better.
We bring out the best in each other and in ourselves, every day in every way.
~Randy Palisoc, Co-Founder

Synergy Academies had another outstanding year of academic achievement. The California Department of Education recently released the 2012 Academic Performance Index (API) Reports, which are used as part of a school’s accountability progress reporting to determine whether a school is meeting performance standards. The target for all schools in California is a score of 800.

This year, Synergy Charter Academy (Elementary School) achieved a chart-topping 934 and remains one of the highest performing schools in Los Angeles. Schools with similar demographics also made progress toward the 800 benchmark, but are still performing in the low to mid-700 range, with some schools in area performing close to 650. Synergy Kinetic Academy (Middle School) met their school wide target scoring 805 and is out performing schools with similar demographics by approximately 50-70 points.

Over the last three years, LASVP Partners have provided support to Synergy through strategic planning, branding, marketing, IT, financial planning, executive coaching, and funding. And we’re seeing a great return on the investments of time, talent, and money that we have invested.

Congratulations to everyone at Synergy Academies for not only another outstanding year of academic achievement, but also for keeping their commitment to creating stronger schools, stronger students, and a stronger community.

If you would like to support Synergy Academies, you can connect a STEM field professional with the school who can speak to the students about their job experience, register your credit cards and grocery club cards (Ralph’s Club Card, Target REDCard, etc.) so that a portion of your purchase will be donated to Synergy or make a donation.

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Witness the Power of the SVP Network!

December 4, 2012

Diane and Way-Ting at SVP Conference 2012Last month, 7 Partners and staff members represented LASVP at the largest Social Venture Partners conference to date in Portland, OR. The growing SVP network now has over 2,300 Partners in 29 cities around the globe, including the most recent additions to the network Chicago and Bangalore. Over 300 people came together to stretch their thinking and share ideas. There was even a nonprofit delegation from China who was able to join and share how SVP is becoming a global movement.

With almost 20 breakout sessions to attend and hundreds of socially engaged people to meet, SVP Partners were able to make connections and learn more about the power of the network at every turn. Sessions on Innovation in Education, Collective Action, and Financing Social Impact gave an overview of what is happening across the network and the movements that SVPers want to be a part of. In the Excellence in SVP track, Executive Director Diane Helfrey and Partner Way-Ting Chen  (pictured) led a session on the LASVP Impact Framework and the Strategic Planning process to a packed room of people eager to learn from our experience!

Plenary speaker Dan Palotta, author of Uncharitable and Charity Case, provided an update on the Charity Defense Council. The Charity Defense Council seeks to be a voice for the nonprofit sector and act as an anti-defamation league. The organization has been granted 501(c)3 status, built a board, and has defined their five primary functions. SVPI board member and SVP Cincinnati Partner, Tom Callinan is aiding in the effort as well, as the chair of the Charity Defense Council’s anti-defamation committee.

Keynote speaker, Sam Kaner, author of the Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, helped us think about our group interactions and how we can move toward consensus decision making. We learned about the dreaded “groan zone” that is a natural part of true consensus decision-making. The “groan zone” happens when a group finds itself with a number of ideas, opinions, and possible courses of action and must work through the diverse options in order to move toward consensus. Kaner described it as “struggle in the service of integration” and we learned that by helping one another to understand and communicate with each other, we can reach a decision.

On Changemakers Night, we heard firsthand how difficulties, setbacks, and failures lead to innovation. Matt Flannery of Kiva, Jill Vialet of Playworks, and Craig Kielburger of Free the Children all inspired us to keep moving through our own struggles as we stretch ourselves to the next level of impact and unleash our own potential. This trio of speakers gave us real-world examples of people who were lost, who failed, and who weren’t taken seriously, but found the strength to move ahead and create organizations that are making a better world, showing us all that innovation and change are possible.

If you weren’t able to make it to the conference this year, be sure to stay tuned to all of our SVP news and make plans to attend the next annual conference in Silicon Valley on October 18-19. It is a wonderful time to see the power of the SVP network in action and witness the power of coming together to create change in our communities.


Partner Q & A: Betsy Densmore

December 4, 2012

Betsy DensmoreBetsy Densmore is the President of the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship and has been an SVP Partner since 2010.

Q: How were you introduced to SVP?
Betsy:
In 2006, SVP partnered with my employer to organize monthly Leadership Forum meetings for the executives of local Charter Schools. In 2008, we also joined forces again to host the first Social Innovation Fast Pitch.  In both cases I was struck by the grace, talent and commitment of SVP members.

Q: What is your role with SVP?
Betsy: I serve on the Board as Secretary and am a team leader for this year’s Fast Pitch. Generally, I do what Diane asks me to do.

Q: What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
Betsy:
A ballerina

Q: What book are you reading right now?
Betsy: Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman– a great book about tactics for moving money from Wall Street to Main Streets.

Q: What do you look forward to on the weekends?
Betsy:
Dates with my husband—still romancing after 33 years.

Q: If SVP could solve one problem in LA, what would you pick?
Betsy:
I think the problem we are best suited to solve is the need for an army of undauntable, thoughtful philanthropists who make “change” happen (to a world that works for everyone).

You can learn more about our Partners here on our website.