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SVP Charlotte donors pool funds, expertise

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Susan Daniel

Susan Daniel

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Partners for Success, a new program launched by Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, aims to recruit and connect local businesses and faith communities to help promote success at high-poverty, low-performing public schools.

Habitat Critical Home Repair, a year-old program of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte, plans to build the capacity of its network of volunteers to work with low-income families to provide major home repairs and help protect Charlotte’s stock of affordable housing.

Critical to both programs is financial support and technical expertise from Social Venture Partners Charlotte, a nonprofit formed in 2005 that is part of national network of 25 local groups of partners who pool their donations to support causes they care about.

The group this year has 69 individual members, most of them couples, with each couple donating $5,000 a year.

While the number of members has remained constant in recent years, SVP Charlotte has proved to be “a good place to land for a lot of people in this economic climate,” says Susan Daniel, the group’s executive director.

“It provides an opportunity to have a greater impact collectively than each partner could have alone,” says Daniel, who joined SVP Charlotte in August 2008 after serving for eight years as membership development coordinator for First Presbyterian Church. “Despite the economy, or maybe because of it, many people want to do more than just write a check.”

Based on priorities they set, the partners form committees to study needs in those priority areas and select specific projects to fund.

Those priorities include public education, affordable housing, health care and the environment.

Consider Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which partnered with SVP Charlotte to form Partners for Success.

With roughly $60,000 this year from SVP Charlotte, Communities in Schools also hired Sherry Waters as its resource coordinator to run the program.

The two groups also have formed an advisory board, consisting of four SVP partners and three members of the Communities in Schools staff, to provide assistance on expanding the program, assessing its progress and “trying to open doors and help them find significant community partners for these struggling schools,” Daniel says.

“We’re helping them with strategic counsel and business connections,” she says.

Or consider Habitat for Humanity, which this year received $35,000 in matching firms from SVP Charlotte to help hire a new site supervisor to manage expansion of the Critical Home Repair initiative it launched a year ago to work with low-income families to correct housing violations and reduce substandard housing conditions.

The funding will support the development and launch of a construction course that will let Habitat “leverage its volunteer network, helping them increase their capacity,” Daniel says.

A key goal for SVP Charlotte, she says, is to continue to enlist new partners so it can better address local needs and expand its impact.

This fall, for example, the organization will host a meeting at which groups it supports can give its partners and prospective partners a report on their progress.

Throughout the year, SVP committees that focus on its four priorities meet with community leaders to learn more about community issues and needs.

And SVP plans to host an event for partners that will focus on getting their children involving in philanthropy.

“These activities help our partners become more informed, engaged and effective givers,” Daniel says. “We’re committed to identifying and supporting programs and services that provide positive, systemic change in the community.”

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