Collaborating for Child Prosperity

  • Prosperity
  • 2016

Led by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, about a half dozen living donors and another half dozen foundations have joined forces in a cooperative calling itself Blue Meridian Partners that will deliver major, long-term support to a limited number of proven charities serving children. The group intends to collectively donate at least a billion dollars over the next decade. With this large, reliable, long-term funding stream directed to organizations that have proven their ability to improve life courses, hundreds of thousands of youngsters may enjoy a better future.

As of 2017, eight supporters had pledged to spend at least $50 million each in this coordinated way: living donors Stanley Druckenmiller (who will chair the board), Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Arthur Samberg, George Kaiser, and David Tepper, plus the Duke Endowment and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. An interesting governance structure gives each of these “general partners” a vote on the dispersal of funds. The effort also has four “limited partners” who committed at least $10 million to the joint effort: the Hewlett, JPB, Packard, and Schusterman Family foundations. These contributors will not vote, but by riding on the effort’s coattails will benefit from its research, grantee assistance, technical assessment, and other services.

Six charities had been selected to receive the pooled funding as of 2017. Each will receive both money and assistance with planning and management. This will allow them to dramatically expand their successful programs.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (which brings nurses into the homes of low-income mothers as they bear their first child, almost always out of wedlock) will receive $33 million to expand its services, which have been demonstrated to improve both the development of children and the economic self-sufficiency of mothers.

The signature adoption-assistance program of the Dave Thomas Foundation, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, was promised $35 million over four years. That will fund the first phase of a 12-year plan to move many hard-to-place foster children (those with disabilities, siblings, advanced age, etc.) into families.

Youth Villages (which operates 11 group homes for teens and young adults with behavioral, emotional, and criminal problems) got a commitment from Blue Meridian Partners for $36 million over four years.

Year Up, an organization that shepherds poor youngsters into jobs and community colleges, will receive $40 million in expansion funding over four years. Two medical charities that will receive smaller grants complete the initial investments of the partnership.

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