2015 in Review

15. May 2016 From Scott 0

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Most days it is hard for us to see the desired progress as we focus on accomplishing and looking ahead to a future vision but we must say 2015 was a year that showed us in stark contrast what hope and persevering commitment could accomplish. We are quickly approaching our 8th birthday and by the end of 2015 we crossed a major threshold with our umbrella organization and affiliates having raised over $1,000,000 since inception. Money is an easy and assumed measurement of success, 7-figures in 7 years, not a bad start. We hope though to show you the impact of what our true success has produced in what follows.

A peer recently made the observation that people buy “why” not “what” – it’s about a feeling and a connection to something deeper to get us to part with our hard earned money and time. After that conversation we thought a lot about our ‘why’ and how it should take center importance for us in the stories we tell about the accomplishments we have been a part of:

  • Haiti: It’s been a challenging year, we went from finishing a $40,000 building project to immediately embarking on a second floor (another $35,000) and a school. We’ve never run a school, let alone one in another language, 2,000 miles away. Yet today we now have 300 kids in school, each receiving a uniform and five meals a week. We also have 20 employees now being paid with a new job and a purpose, giving them the opportunity to support their families and invest in the community. Why is this important? – Haiti’s literacy rate is 61-64% for males and 57% for females. The average literacy rate in Latin America/Caribbean is 92%. 50% of kids in Haiti do not attend school and only 30% of that 50% will attend anything above the secondary level. This is challenging, the gap is wide and it matters to those kids and their families to have hope and a chance at a better future.
  • Just 3 years ago Guidance to Success was on the verge of collapsing, yet with some hope and perseverance in 2015 their program has become a successful with 300 Lincoln youth in their program. They have kids improving grades, completing school and excelling to the point of attending college (4 from GtS will start at Nebraska Wesleyan University this fall!). Counseling services for the youth and their families under the GtS banner have begun further expanding the holistic reach. Every day is a chance for these kids to join a new tribe and see a future with vast possibilities in it.
  • We were blessed to spend time in Rwanda this last year visiting our families and the beneficiaries we currently and have previously supported. One of the strongest moments was sitting in a home as one of our beneficiaries cried telling us about her struggles in an abusive situation and possibly having to quit school to get away from it. We were able to take action – find her a place to stay, help her with gap financing and keeping her in school to graduate secondary in May of 2016. This wouldn’t have been possible without 3 years of investment, capital and sweat equity.
  • The Jacob’s Well house sits next to an apartment complex. For the last few years the matriarch and patriarch of Jacob’s Well have lived in community with those wonderful folks having meals and bible study. This February the matriarch had her 60th birthday party and well over a hundred people attended including some of the neighbors. Towards the end of the event a few of them got on stage, grabbed the mic and called the matriarch up to present her with a gift that was lovingly wrapped. It turned out, from their small government fixed income the building had pooled their money to get her a gift certificate to Target to help with the house. They got on a bus and went to target, purchased the gift, wrapped it, and then gave a speech about love and kindness and having a family. This is lasting change, it matters to have family and a place to belong.

You can see from these examples little is simple in the world of development. Yet this “why” is significant Every number has a name, every name has a story and every story matters.

As an organization a few other things we want you, our investors, to remember, as it is very easy to get distracted or complacent or simply forget:

  • Our goal is permanent change, not just a successful project
  • We want to keep the main thing – the main thing: our main thing is empower others to build a frame work that can be successful and if desired, scalable
  • Our strategy to accomplish this is to create a platform where philanthropic entrepreneurs can bolt-on to minimize barriers to entry, ongoing expenses and regulation
  • We are in development work- this means first and foremost we are going to take chances. The reality is most startups fail and for us to be in the venture philanthropy world means by definition we are the risk capital. Our goal is not to win or hit it out of the park every time, our goal is permanent change (and that’s really difficult).
  • Poverty is living without choices; it is fundamentally about broken relationships. The economics of poverty is a symptom of a much worse disease. Most spend an incredible amount of effort trying to treat the symptom, we will not.

We find it difficult to accept ‘always been done that way’ mentality and we hunt for the ‘hows’, dissecting the ‘whys’ – we subsist on those little, quite seconds when one person’s entire world is impacted by a moment when someone cared deeply and individually.

Please don’t forget the power in hope and persevering commitment

– we really are changing tomorrow, today.