Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Time of Growth for Community Wealth Ventures

 Community Wealth Ventures, a subsidiary of Share Our Strength, devoted to helping nonprofits and businesses create community wealth, is poised for its next phase of growth. Here are a few excerpts from a new prospectus going out to potential investors this week:

“This document presents an opportunity to invest in Community Wealth Ventures’ (CWV)
growth plan. Support of this plan will enable investors to have a transformative impact on a
broad range of the most entrepreneurial organizations leading social change efforts in areas
such as education, health, poverty and the arts. CWV’s sharp focus on scale and
sustainability, two issues at the center of cutting-edge philanthropy today, means a return
on investment that is highly leveraged against organizations with proven track records of
impact and accountability. Investing in CWV’s growth is equivalent to investing in a mutual fund that supports the growth of high-performing ventures characterized by innovation, impact and leadership.”

“Today, CWV is a robust management consulting firm that emboldens and equips leadership
teams to innovate, grow and sustain organizations that build a better world. CWV is based on a
simple premise: Social sector organizations have effective solutions to the problems that
challenge communities, such as those related to education, healthcare and employment. What
they don’t always have are the strategies needed to sustain and increase impact over the long
term, and ultimately, to solve these problems on the scale that they exist.”

“CWV addresses this gap by partnering with its clients to design and implement market-based approaches to growth and sustainability, with core expertise in community wealth creation. Its market-based methodology emphasizes the use of market data and analysis to inform decision-making. Unlike other consulting firms, its collaborative and practical approach focuses on equipping leadership teams with the skills needed to support the execution of the strategy. Its unique incorporation of these various elements in its work has proven to spark innovation, highlight new opportunities, and create truly transformational change and improvement for its clients.”

“Proven by its success in implementing its new strategy over the last year and a half, CWV is
poised to increase its impact and to achieve the following:

• Dramatically increase the innovation, sustainability and growth in the sector to meet
escalating community needs;

• Double its annual revenues, moving from $1.9M to $3.9M by fiscal year 2014; and

• Realize a 12 percent profit margin by fiscal year 2014, allowing the organization to

internally generate cash to help support sustainable investments in its own future ability

to deliver impact.”

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bearing witness to children living with an unemployed parent

The National Center for Children in Poverty is a think tank at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.  Earlier this month they released an important new study of food insecurity.  The findings, with which I was mostly familiar, included:
- Concurrently, participation in food assistance programs spiked: The number of food stamps participants increased 31 percent, from 25.7 million in 2005, to 33.7 in 2009. The sharpest uptick occurred between 2007 and 2009, as participation increased by 27 percent.

- Participation in the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Program rose by 18 percent and six percent respectively.

- In the last year alone, Emergency Food Assistance programs, such as food banks and pantries, have seen an 18 percent increase in demand.
 But there was one new stat I had not seen:  Since the late 2007, when the recession began, the number of children living with an unemployed parent nearly doubled from 5.5 million to 10.5 million children by 2009. 
 There is no other commentary. We are left only to imagine the myriad impacts on so many children, of living in a home that a parent one day returns to without his or her job, without the income or structure ot stability it provides.  If our policymakers thought more about that, perhaps there would be finally be more urgency to creating the jobs needed to achieve true economic recovery.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chef Mario Batali’s recipe for good management

We’re more accustomed to seeing chef Mario Batali interviewed in the pages of food magazines than in Harvard Business Review, but that’s where you’ll find him in the May, 2010 issue, in a regular feature called Life’s Work.

Batali has a total of 14 restaurants now, including Babbo, Del Posto, and The Spotted Pig. In the interview he is asked about his strategy for ensuring consistently successful performance. His response would serve as great management advice for any enterprise: “My objective as a manager, of course, is to remove the obstacles that prohibit greatness in the people I’ve hired. So I ask, what is the hardest thing about today? And I say, well, why don’t we get somebody else to do that, or let’s streamline it, make it easier.

We should all strive to “remove the obstacles that prohibit greatness” in the people we’ve hired. Like many a great chef and successful entrepreneur, Batali knows that the best recipes can be those that are simplest.

An excerpt can be found at http://hbr.org/2010/05/lifes-work-mario-batali/ar/1

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gary Hart and the power of ideas

I wanted to share the piece published yesterday by Jim Fallows, who for 25 years has been a national correspondent for the Atlantic, about former Senator Gary Hart for whom I worked for more than a ten years. See link at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/08/gary-hart-on-bombing-iran/61942/.

My sister Debbie who co-founded Share Our Strength worked in his presidential campaigns , as did many of our close friends and current leaders like Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, City Year founder Alan Khazei, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, to name just a few.
Gary’s new memoir, The Thunder and the Sunshine is just being published. Share Our Strength board member Kathy Calvin is co-hosting a book party along with Debbie and I for Senator Hart on Thursday, September 16, at the UN Foundation offices in Washington DC. Details are available from Alice Pennington @ apennington@strength.org.  Please feel welcome to join us. Gary Hart has always been a champion of the power of ideas, a strong support of Share Our Strength and so many of his principles of organizing were instrumental to our early successes. Thanks. 

A brief excerpt from Fallows post follows: "I am biased in favor of Gary Hart. I met him when researching my book National Defense back at the dawn of the Reagan Administration. At the time, as a first-term Senator in his early 40s, he was a genuine pioneer in pushing the concept of "defense reform" -- the then-radical idea that we should judge our military policies on grounds more complicated than "spend more" versus "spend less." Defense reform is a radical idea still, but that's another topic. Hart took the crucial step of assembling and supporting a team of people to work on this idea -- starting with his own staff assistant, William S. Lind, who connected him (and me) to the circle of thinkers around the late Air Force Col. John Boyd.

Presidential campaigns have come and gone since then; so have "hot" and stylish ideas in policy; and of course America's military involvement outside its borders has only increased. But through those decades Hart has kept writing books and articles about military strategy and its connection to long-term American interests and values."


Monday, August 2, 2010

Would It Spoil Some Vast Eternal Plan?

Here's an excerpt from the piece I wtote today for Huffington Post about rising above politics to end childhood hunger @http://www.huffingtonpost.com/billy-shore/wuold-it-spoil-some-vast_b_667869.html

If Congress doesn't act, the food and nutrition programs will likely be extended under a continuing resolution, but we will have missed a chance to enact carefully crafted reforms that improve both the quality and nutritional value of school meals, and that improve access to programs for the large number of children who are eligible but not enrolled in programs that work.

The First Lady has spoken out on this, with an op-ed in today's Washington Post, but President Obama should also weigh in. The President did an enormous amount of good when he declared the goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. But good is not good enough for kids in America who continue to go hungry. A word from him to the Speaker and Majority Leader would ensure that years of hard work on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization do not go to waste.