Blue Meridian Partners is still in its early stages. We will update this page regularly to answer questions as the initiative evolves.
We invite you to send questions and inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How does Blue Meridian Partners differ from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation?
First, although EMCF’s approach to identifying, investing in and holding nonprofits accountable for performance is the “engine” driving Blue Meridian Partners’ investments, this initiative is exploring opportunities to invest in programs serving a broader age range of youth, from birth to age 30. The areas in which these programs are working are also broader and include early childhood development and learning, K-12 education, and the child welfare and juvenile/criminal justice systems.
Second, the size of the commitments made by Blue Meridian Partners will make possible investments that are significantly larger and longer than EMCF’s have been -- totaling up to $200 million (over 5 to 10 years) for each grantee.
In most instances, a major investment will be preceded by a smaller planning and development grant to craft a scaling plan that will build an organization’s internal capacity, guide its expansion, support additional evaluations of effectiveness, and specify how it will track progress and measure success.
Finally, in contrast to EMCF’s previous ventures in capital aggregation, General Partners share in Blue Meridian Partners’ decision-making and sit on its board, which is chaired by Stanley Druckenmiller.
What Sets Blue Meridian Partners Apart
CEO Nancy Roob describes what distinguishes Blue Meridian Partners: “The size of the investment is unprecedented.”
In making such large investments, Blue Meridian Partners will also face an increased risk for failure ― how will it manage this risk?
Over the years, EMCF has relied on business planning as a roadmap for investment and has built a highly disciplined investment approach for encouraging grantee performance and managing investment risk. This includes conducting intensive due diligence, measuring a grantee's progress, and holding the grantee accountable for meeting annual performance milestones outlined in its business plan. The strategy does not eliminate risk, but it reduces it.
Blue Meridian Partners intends to adapt this strategy and raise it to an even higher level with investments that are based on scaling plans. The hope is that these will take business planning a step further and lay out not only a roadmap for building capacity and evidence and achieving growth, but also clearly define the social problem(s) an organization seeks to address, how it will measure its success in meeting this challenge, and the business models and financial strategies required to sustain the organization over the long term. Such planning, and the phased-in nature of Blue Meridian Partners' investments, which will be paid out in installments contingent on a grantee's progress toward meeting the goals of its scaling plan, will mitigate the risks these big bets entail.
Blue Meridian Partners anticipates that some of its investments will fall short of expectations. But even failure can contribute to the field's collective knowledge about the bumpy process of achieving scale in the social sector. Blue Meridian Partners will share what it learns as transparently as it can without causing undo harm to its grantees.
Blue Meridian Partners is a mix of diverse philanthropic individuals and institutions. How will it make decisions?
Blue Meridian Partners is a work in progress, and this is one of the things it is working on: creating a new model for collaborative philanthropy and coordinated funding that allows donors to participate in different ways, based on their interests and overall commitment to the partnership.
Each General Partner, committing at least $50 million over five years, will have one seat on Blue Meridian Partners' governing board. Limited Partners, intending to commit at least $10 million, will not cast votes but will review investment opportunities and have input into the board's decisions.
To date, Blue Meridian Partners has been able to make decisions quickly and collaboratively. It fully expects to encounter obstacles, both anticipated and unforeseen, as it figures out how best to work together. That said, several factors bode well for its success:
First and foremost, all Partners are united by their belief in the urgency of the crisis confronting America's disadvantaged children and youth, and in the need to address it.
Second, Partners realize that none of them can do this on their own, and that greater collaboration is crucial to achieve greater results.
Third, Blue Meridian Partners is a group of investors resolved to share risk and results by working together.
Blue Meridian Partners welcomes additional co-investors to join it as General Partners or Limited Partners, or to invest alongside it in specific organizations.
While it has not set a limit on the number of General Partners, Blue Meridian Partners intends to keep the governing board small so it can make decisions and act on them quickly and nimbly.
If An Organization Previously Submitted Information to EMCF, Should it Complete the Youth Organizations Survey Form?
Yes. Please complete the new survey form as some of the questions are new and specific to our selection process going forward. We will merge new information with previously collected information in our database.
What's the significance of the Blue Meridian name?
Blue Meridian Partners hopes to establish a new “meridian”―a point of reference―for what strategic philanthropic investment can achieve by supporting programs that benefit children and youth on a large scale. “Blue” connotes the optimism Partners feel about working collaboratively to open up new possibilities for vulnerable young people.