In 2007, the Foundation tested whether a new form of coordinated, collaborative philanthropy could help grantees expand and improve the life prospects of significantly greater numbers of vulnerable youth.
After eight years’ experience investing in youth development, EMCF concluded that three of our most promising grantees might benefit greatly from capital aggregation―amassing more capital than any one foundation could provide on its own to build the evidence and organizational capacity that are the prerequisites of sustainable growth.
We launched the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot (GCAP) to support Citizen Schools, Nurse-Family Partnership and Youth Villages. Within a year, EMCF reached its $120 million fundraising goal, helping these grantees secure, over and above the Foundation’s investment of $39 million, commitments of $81 million from their boards and 19 co-investors. The five-year investments in Citizen Schools and Youth Villages ended in 2012, while the investment in Nurse-Family Partnership was extended to 2014.
A 2012 report describes in detail GCAP’s successes and challenges: An Experiment in Scaling Impact: Assessing the Growth Capital Aggregation Pilot.
All three GCAP grantees became much stronger organizations, serving more youth, earning more annual revenue, and better positioning themselves to take advantage of new federal funding opportunities for proven programs. And they accomplished all this in the midst of the worst economic downturn the U.S. has seen since the Great Depression.
GCAP grantees met most of their annual milestones until they began to feel the recession’s full impact in late 2009. To soften the blow, they used some growth capital to serve other important purposes, such as strengthening their reserves, maintaining their capacity gains, and protecting their programs.
As grantees revised their business plans to reflect changing economic and political circumstances, co-investors agreed to adjust milestones and the time frames to which grantees were held accountable—a tribute to the confidence GCAP inspired in all of its participants.