The federal agency behind AmeriCorps is awarding $2 million to an organization that takes a venture capital approach to philanthropy.
The GreenLight Fund scours the country for nonprofits with a proven track record of helping low-income children and families. They then help the organizations expand into other cities.
It’s a model that’s soon coming to Philadelphia.
“We know there are a lot of nonprofits operating in every community, certainly in Philadelphia,” says Margaret Hall, GreenLight’s co-founder and executive director. “But we also know from our experience that we’ve got to keep our minds and our communities open to innovation, because that’s really how we’re going to make the kind of change we need to make on critical issues.”
GreenLight, which started in Boston in 2004, itself expanded to San Francisco and Philadelphia earlier this year.
Now, with a share of $2 million in federal grant money (and an additional $2 million in matching private funding), GreenLight plans to parachute its first two nonprofits into Philadelphia. The organization expects the selection process to take about six months. Philly-based organizations need not apply.
“What we’re really trying to do in finding great ideas around the country to bring into the community,” Hall says, “is to look for those areas where a very innovative approach could make a big difference.”