Our pro bono projects have officially launched! Our two teams will be working with ScholarCHIPS and Healthy Babies Project (HBP) to support each organization’s development. The ScholarCHIPS team, led by Nate Mauer, will be working to increase ScholarCHIPS’ board engagement, outreach and fundraising capacity, and to create a strategic plan for the organization. The Healthy Babies Project team, led by Karen Price, will support the expansion of HBP’s Teen-to-Doula program by developing strategies for program expansion, marketing and cost-recovery.
I spoke with each of our two team leads to get to know them better, learn more about how their teams will support each grantees growth and sustainability and even put them on the hot seat to get their solutions to poverty in the District. Without further ado, meet Karen Price and Nate Mauer.
Tell me about yourself. What brought you to the District and what do you do professionally?
Karen: I’m the Development Director at Communities in Schools of the Nation’s Capital. I came to D.C. years ago for a job after I finished the Peace Corps. This was always an area I loved and there was a lot of opportunity to do Development work in the city. I’ve done development and fundraising for about 15 years, mostly focused on women and children’s issues.
Nate: I run a workforce development nonprofit that aims to serve opportunity youth in Wards 7 and 8, high school, college and graduate school students looking for clearer pathways from education to employment and international workers who can fill high-demand occupations in the United States.
What interested you in getting involved with DC Social Innovation Project (DCSIP) and why did you want to serve on a pro bono team?
Karen: I learned about DCSIP at a MLK Pro Bono day where my organization was receiving pro bono assistance. It was really great experience, but a lot of what came out of the recommendations for various groups was a need for funds to implement their recommendations. So now I’m in a position to go from someone who has received pro bono to someone who is able to add value by providing pro bono services.
Nate: I first heard about the organization through a grant writer.I looked over the website and did some research and found out that DCSIP identifies promising nonprofits with great ideas and incredibly motivated and driven founders who are looking to kick their organizations into high gear and go to the next level. DCSIP connects these organizations with the people and teams that can provide the type of operational support that’s needed to support kids at scale.
I like to invest my time and energy into projects that are worthwhile. After reading the two newest grantee applications I was 100% on board. It’s obvious that you all are successful at selecting great ideas and making sure they have the backing they need to help out more people in D.C.
I know how difficult it is to start a nonprofit from zero, get partners, navigate through the grantwriting process and create good will in the community. I know that DC Social Innovation Project can provide any kind of resource these organizations need.
What are some important considerations when providing pro bono services?
Karen: I want to make sure that we’re giving Healthy Babies Project something that they can use in the future. It’s important to have big ideas, but its also important to be able to lay out a strategic plan for how your recommendations will be useful to the organization. It’s important to keep communications open about what resources the organization has available to aide them in implementing the project including their staffing and funding.
What are you most excited about in regards to your pro bono project?
Nate: Drawing from my own experience, I know that fundraising and building relationships with funders in incredibly difficult, but it’s absolutely necessary to sustain any program. My pro bono team gets the opportunity to create resources for the board to make bigger asks and broaden their funding sources beyond their current network of funders. The team will be able to get that immediate feedback loop by seeing the organization’s bottom line increase. That really keeps people motivated and provides something tangible to show at the end that DC Social Innovation Project was able to assemble a dream team that made a difference for the students that ScholarCHIPS serves.
Karen: I’ve heard a lot of great things about Healthy Babies and I think the idea of training these teen moms to become doulas is great. I’m really excited about growing the Teen-to-Doula project itself. A lot of my team has an interest in the health care field and we have the opportunity to prepare these teen mothers for a career that they may not have known was an option for them.
What do you specifically hope to bring to the project?
Karen: I’ve always worked with small local nonprofits so I bring an understanding of what that landscape looks like and what some of the challenges are that these organizations face internally. This is an asset because I’ll be looking to structure the work and the plan in a ways that’s doable for the organization. I’ve had the experience of being a one-person development team and marketing manager. In a small nonprofit you wear a lot of hats. I understand that and hope this will help on the project.
Doing a little visioning, what do you think it would take to end poverty in the District?
Nate: It’s going to require a confluence of different events. You’re going to need easier channels of communication between different government stakeholders and also the nonprofits working directly with those communities to alleviate poverty. It’s not just money. It takes many different programs and that we harness the power of those programs to prove to people in poverty that those programs will help them achieve their goals. They require buy-in. Great ideas are just great ideas. But they have to have the support of the community.
Karen: I work in the Education field now and I see a huge achievement gap between kids in poverty and those not in poverty. It will require a lot of organizations working together – but getting kids off to a good start is an important step toward ending poverty.