sponsored by Bank of America
Greater Seattle has undergone massive changes in recent years, becoming a thriving tech hub with a strong economy that attracts newcomers from across the nation. But as our city becomes more affluent and our population grows, our economic divisions are deepening, leading many to wonder how we can ensure that every community member is getting the support they need.
The solution is multi-pronged, of course, but a big part of the answer lies in our local nonprofits. These organizations play a critical role in supporting healthy communities, whether they’re serving hungry families dinner or helping immigrants gain access to the resources they need. In order for our region to grow responsibly, we must ensure that our local nonprofits are well-funded so they can grow too.
Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program works to address this issue by awarding two Puget Sound nonprofits an unrestricted $200,000 grant and providing leadership training each year to fuel strategic growth within the organizations. This year’s recipients, who were announced from the stage at Seattle Business Magazine’s Community Impact Awards celebration, are tackling two of the region’s critical issues: hunger and family support services.
And the 2016 Neighborhood Builder Winners Are…
Food Lifeline is a distribution center that distributes the equivalent of 91,000 meals a day to local food assistance programs. Known as the food bank for food banks, the organization redirects surplus food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste.
Southwest Youth & Family Services (SWYFS) offers counseling, education and family support to 90,000 residents in Southwest Seattle. Through culturally relevant support groups, youth violence prevention programs, high school re-entry programs, parenting classes and other support services, SWYFS aims to transform futures.
“As our economy improves, we must be mindful of the economic well-being of the community as a whole,” said Anthony DiBlasi, Seattle Market and Washington State President for Bank of America. “While certain sectors of our economy are booming, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the more vulnerable members of our community. Nonprofits are critical to the health of our region, and we are very pleased that Food Lifeline and SWYFS are this year’s Neighborhood Builder winners and will get the financial resources and leadership training they need to meet the changing needs of our region.”
Keeping Evolving Communities Healthy
As Seattle’s economy and population grow, businesses and nonprofits must work together to maintain inclusive communities that support all of our residents and their changing needs. The Neighborhood Builders program will help Food Lifeline and SWYFS grow, operationally and financially, to keep pace with our community’s demands for services.
Food Lifeline recently launched a 10-year strategic plan to expand its programs, setting a goal to double the amount of food it distributes annually from 40 million pounds a year to 80 million pounds a year. Executing an expansion of this scale requires a great deal of financial and organizational support, and Food Lifeline is grateful to have Neighborhood Builders as a partner on its ambitious undertaking.
“As Food Lifeline grows, it is vital that all levels of leadership develop along with it,” said Linda Nageotte, president and CEO of Food Lifeline. “As we launch our expansion, it will be challenging to correctly identify how to best support organizational leadership. The Neighborhood Builders’ leadership development training will be incredibly beneficial, providing the tools and helping us develop the skills we will need to lead this change. The training will also provide a unique opportunity to learn from and share with other Neighborhood Builders, helping develop a highly-connected community. We thank Bank of America for joining us in the fight against hunger.”
SWYFS also has plans to expand its programs. The organization envisions using the support from Neighborhood Builders to maintain its afterschool and summer academic support program and expand its SW Education Center, which offers high school and GED programs for students who have dropped out or been expelled from traditional schools.
“As increasingly more families are priced out of Seattle neighborhoods, SWYFS has seen a growing demand for GED programs in the Highline School District,” said Steve Daschle, executive director of SWYFS. “To meet this demand, SWYFS is opening Education Center classrooms in White Center. Without funding from the Neighborhood Builders program, expanding the program would not be possible. We are very grateful to be part of this year’s Neighborhood Builders program so we can expand our reach in the community and continue to make King County a healthier, more supportive place for all of us.”
A Longstanding Regional Impact
Since Bank of America launched its Neighborhood Builders program in 2004, it has trained nearly 2,000 nonprofit directors and emerging leaders in the U.S. from more than 900 nonprofit organizations, awarding each organization with $200,000 in unrestricted funding: a unique coveted funding source in the nonprofit world. The grant recipients are chosen by a committee of bank leaders, community influencers, and previous Neighborhood Builders recipients who look for nonprofits that have a track record of success and promising plans for the future, but lack the financial resources to execute their plans.
Previous Puget Sound-area Neighborhood Builder grant recipients include Tree House, Plymouth Housing Group, Imagine Housing and City Year! Puget Sound. The Neighborhood Builders program gave each of these organizations the lift they needed to get to the next level of community impact.
Plymouth Housing Group, an organization that provides safe, supportive housing to homeless adults, was a Neighborhood Builders recipient in 2015. Plymouth has been able to significantly expand its existing Seattle-area housing thanks to the Neighborhood Builders program.
“As homelessness becomes more prevalent in our region, we’ve seen the need for our services grow tremendously,” said Paul Lambros, executive director at Plymouth Housing. “Having Bank of America’s support helped us launch a significant expansion so we can help fulfill those needs. The unrestricted funding we received allowed us to begin developing two new buildings in addition to our 13 existing supportive housing sites downtown. Our partnership with Bank of America also helped instill confidence in other donors, enabling us to raise additional funds so we can continue expanding our efforts to end homelessness.”
A Multi-Faceted Growth Plan
The Neighborhood Builders program is much more than a monetary donation. It helps develop each organization’s leadership team and operational capacity so they can maintain sustainable growth. In fact, the leadership development component of the program is the largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development in the nation. The bank also provides marketing materials, volunteer support and in-roads to the business community that help the entire organization grow to reach the next level of impact.
Tech Access Foundation (TAF) was a Neighborhood Builders recipient in 2015 as well. TAF is a nonprofit leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The organization uses STEM as a tool for realizing social change and educational equality in communities of color and those with low income.
Last year TAF took on a formidable task: The organization’s leaders developed a comprehensive 20-year plan mapping out its long-term goals and how TAF will scale to achieve them. Having support from Bank of America’s leadership development program as TAF created the plan and started to scale its organization accordingly proved to be invaluable.
“The leadership development training has been incredibly helpful for our executive team,” said Trish Millines Dziko, co-founder and executive director at TAF. “As part of the training, we met with former Neighborhood Builders recipients who had scaled their organizations or were in the process of doing so. Learning from other executives who have similar expansion goals as TAF and hearing about the challenges they have faced has been really valuable. We plan to expand TAF’s programs significantly, and we are grateful to have Bank of America’s support to help guide us as we do so.”