A national centre of excellence for the support of innovative responses to complex social issues has been launched by Foundation North. The Centre for Social Impact is being established to support major social investments by philanthropic trusts, government and local government agencies, community organisations and corporates.
"The ASB Community Trust has seen the benefits of providing both multi-year funding and organisational support to community organisations working to explore solutions to some of the most difficult issues in our region," Foundation North Chief Executive Jennifer Gill said.
"This combination of funding and organisational support draws on a venture capital model to build the capacity of organisations to grow successfully and achieve their goals. "
Ms Gill said venture philanthropy had developed internationally as successful entrepreneurs sought to invest back into their communities.
"From a business perspective, they knew that funding alone was not always the answer to helping an organisation with great ideas turn those into reality. Support in such areas as governance and leadership development was also essential. That tallies with our own experience as a major philanthropic trust." A $20 million investment by the Trust over five years since 2009 to support, for example, innovative approaches to raising Māori and Pacific education achievement has delivered excellent results.
"We identified organisations who were keen to try new approaches. We partnered with them to help them refine their ideas, increase their skills, develop their programmes, monitor implementation, and evaluate the outcomes."
The Foundation's Māori and Pacific education initiatives are now producing results. A programme to develop a learning partnership between parents and Sylvia Park School, for example, has seen such a substantial increase in student achievement that it has been picked up by the Ministry of Education and will be rolled out to over 100 schools over the next two years.
Ms Gill said the Foundation was now dedicating several million dollars each year of the $35 to $40 million it distributes across Auckland and Northland to venture philanthropy.
"We are currently investing in a range of programmes to support innovative youth at risk, youth development, and solutions to homelessness. The Foundation is providing the funding and the Centre for Social Impact will provide support to each of the organisations involved."
The Foundation's latest major multi-year commitment is to Manurewa Marae's Taiohi Whai Oranga, a unique service model targeting long-term wellbeing and development outcomes for youth in Manurewa. The Foundation will invest about $400,000 a year to support the programme through to 2019.
He aha te mea nui rawa? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
"What is the greatest thing? It is people, people, people."