Youth-serving organizations need an intermediary organization to effectively link with each other and to a broader network.1 VPP serves as the intermediary organization for the collective work of the six high-performing nonprofit organizations that participate in youthCONNECT.
Traditionally, an intermediary first receives funds, makes subgrants, and then monitors progress against benchmarks. The work of VPP includes, but transcends, this traditional role. In addition to grant-making and monitoring, VPP plays a supportive role that brings together individual organizations, allowing for collective action where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When originally building youthCONNECT, VPP used a hybrid approach that involved leveraging pre-selected partners and using a competitive process to identify new partners. At the time, the SIF guidelines permitted intermediaries to submit an application with pre-selected partners (subgrantees). VPP submitted four pre-selected partners, each known to be a high-performing organization with whom it had previously worked. VPP was also required to run an open competition to add additional local partners.
youthCONNECT encourages strategic collaboration between the executive directors of the organizations, as well as between program managers and evaluators who meet in working groups to advance the network’s objectives. Through the working groups, staff members leverage the collective experiences and wisdom of the network to address systemic problems that are bigger than any one organization.
1 Kania, J., & Kramer, M. (2011). Collective impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 1(9), 36-41.