Venture Partnerships in Chicago

Yosef Meystel is known for constantly addressing the trend of philanthropy, especially in the Chicago/Midwest area. 2017 Just started and with it, given today’s juncture, the need to spare no efforts in supporting people in need have definitely gone through the roof. Long gone are the times where a single individual was able to provide help and fulfill other people’s need single-handedly: times have changed and even though such philanthropists still exist —and even though their intentions are laudable—, there is indeed a much more efficient way to carry out philanthropic activities.

Such is the case of social venture partnerships: such groups are composed of philanthropically-minded individuals who strive to make a positive repercussion on the lives of those in their communities. In Chicago, for instance, there are several of these groups, and thanks to their philanthropic approach, innovative and scalable nonprofits organizations have received a significant help through assorted activities and volunteers: the whole idea behind such partnerships is to improve and enhance the living conditions of the different communities by putting into work their knowledge, their will, and, mostly, their ongoing support.


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Such model would not be possible if those people had not understood that today’s landscape presents different needs than the ones known philanthropists like Rockefeller had to endure; today, the best way to provide help and assistance is to empower entrepreneurs who are constantly seeking to provide innovative approaches to their work and can make a significant change in the lives of men, women, and children who are now facing the challenges of this era. By laying out multi-year, ongoing financial aid and commitment, venture partnerships strive to support organizations that, regardless of their size, have proven to be ready for escalation, thusly, increasing the odds of making a more sizeable impact.

These two scenarios are, then, trending and spanning over the philanthropy framework: the increasingly emergence of intermediaries that are responsible for raising money, the crescent fame of the model itself. Amongst the sheer array of venture partnerships that currently operate, there are indeed several that have been born and launched in high schools —which also serves a depiction of how people are now raising awareness of the struggles other individuals have to endure, to the point where even at schools, both students and teachers, focus on supporting ideas about success in college and engaging youngsters in social work.

Research has showed that over 45,000 youngsters between the ages of 15 and 25 are currently not in school —such metric actually exceeds by 5% the national average—; it is not a secret that the homicide rate in Chicago as been, meanwhile, rising, where half of all deaths of African American males between the ages of 15 to 25 are entailed. Given the nature of the city: where multiple races and cultures converge, the risk for these youngsters to suffer something pejorative is the focus of these venture partnerships; their mission is to invest and support innovative programs and scalable business ideas to widen the impact in such communities.

In reality, many positive things have been achieved: recently a group of non-profit organizations based in Chicago managed to amass around $4 million in grants from their funds as part of a massive donation. More than 150 different groups and organizations went on to apply for these donations, however, only three emerged as the most benefited, who later provided astonishing aid and support. An endeavor called Dovetail Project received around $1 million for its aid and support for young fathers. This people seek to provide help in regards to young father’s employment, GED completion and even wages.

These venture partnerships have also supported educational programs. Earlier the past year, a venture partnership gave a non-profit called Changing Voices around $1 million for an artistic program aimed at youngsters recently released from correctional centers and facilities. Nevertheless, such efforts are always done carefully; in fact, part of the money is also used to assess whether such endeavors effectively impact the participants in terms of adaptation and long-term employment. Philanthropy has shifted its approach compared to earlier connotations: today’s digital framework has demanded that people prepare themselves enough to face the challenges; education is more than ever a top priority, and venture partnerships have already noted that: thousands of dollars are now granted for aiding and supporting educational programs and students who struggle with their internships, workforce, college preparation, etc.


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It is important to note, that given the fact that these venture partnerships do not operate like traditional funds, further assessment is required in regards to their effectiveness, however, what is ahead seems to be promising: the initiatives will now focus on providing youngsters and communities with personalized teachings so that their odds of thriving in the digital —and highly competitive— era become, at least, attainable.