Nonprofits prepare for accelerator program’s final pitch event

Above: The SVP Full Circle Spring 2019 Cohort and SVP Partners during a happy hour and networking event in May at the Millvale Food + Energy Hub.

While they embody different missions, the common thread amongst the SVP Full Circle Spring 2019 Cohort is a common one for those who work in not-for-profit organizations.

“With nonprofit work you think big and want to save the world on a zero dollar budget,” said Jackie Smith, executive director of Greater Valley Community Services. “And [the coaches] keep it in perspective.”

Social Venture Partners Full Circle is a 14-week accelerator program that combines consulting, workshops, seminars, networking and a final pitch event that will take place on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. at the Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave.

Meant for nonprofits that are at a critical juncture regarding their organizations future development, the program looks for applicants that are committed to achieving measurable outcomes and ready to expand and grow their impact.

The coaches that Smith referred to, also known as SVP Partners, are individuals engaged within the nonprofit community that are able to contribute their time and energy to furthering the advancement of the selected nonprofits chosen to participate in the program.

“The Full Circle Program is an incredible opportunity for nonprofit leaders and SVP Partners from the corporate sector to work collectively to improve internal operations and develop strategies for growth,” said Leigh Solomon Pugliano, Full Circle manager and director of opportunity at New Sun Rising. “It also provides greater insight to the corporate sector, the issues our communities are facing, and the incredible work our nonprofits do to make change.”

The program is held in the fall and spring, and accepts a total of five nonprofits each season. Recently, four out of the five organizations gathered for a happy hour event at the Millvale Food + Energy Hub to network and practice for the final pitch event on June 26. During the event, individuals shared their nonprofits history and the key areas they have been working on within the program. Those organizations included:

Greater Valley Community Services

Based in Braddock, Greater Valley Community Services was created to strengthen and hold S.P.A.C.E (supportive programs affording collaborative engagement) for youth, adults, and seniors in the community. Executive Director Jackie Smith said that recently there has been a disconnect between residents and the businesses coming into the neighborhood, especially with youth, and when she read the description for the Full Circle program felt that the fit them perfectly.

“We’ve been stuck in a place and thought this might be the boost that we needed for the program that we wanted to work on,” Smith said.

Partnering with the Woodland Hills School District and entrepreneurs in the community, GVCS plans to create a program that will connect high school students to small business owners who will work together to create marketing plans, websites, and eventually apps for the neighborhood businesses. Smith said the SVP coaches have been instrumental in understanding the best ways to engage both students and businesses, and in deciding how classes will be structured for students in the program.

Unity Through Creativity

The Grounding Lab, a program under Unity Through Creativity, is situated in Hazelwood and uses arts infused techniques to assist people experiencing despair and enhance their emotional coping skills through contemplative process of deep self-reflection. With 40 years of nursing experience and research, Creative Director Margaret Baco said she has developed the understanding that true healing from traumatic experiences can come from engaging in expressive arts.

Baco said the SVP coaches have helped her focus on creating a community strategy, program development, strategic thinking, and networking. Specifically, she said she has appreciated the connections between those in the program.

“We are attracting one another during this dynamic process and New Sun Rising is able to see how networking through this cohort can strengthens our capacity to function,” Baco said. “It’s an outcome that I am deeply grateful for.”

Legacy Arts Project

In 2005, Erin Perry became a member of the dance ensemble at Legacy Arts Project, an organization focused on preserving the history and traditions of African arts as represented throughout the diaspora through education, instruction and interactions. In 2011, Perry became the executive director and has continued to expand the vision and grow the organization. She said Legacy Arts Project is “not only the exploration of African art, but also the exploration of self and well being.

Perry said joining the Full Circle program has provided guidance on fiscal sponsorships and marketing, and has also “rejuvenated” the nonprofits outlook around its programming and impact it has made in the Homewood community.

“If we were to have a personality assessment of our organization, [I’d say] we are humble,” Perry said. “At the same time we haven’t done a full service to the organization in promoting the work we do or have done, and the coaches have allowed us to recognize humility and pride in the power that has been going on and motivated us to tell the story.”

Coraopolis Community Development Foundation

The Coraopolis Community Development Foundation was formed to serve its community by encouraging and assisting in renewal through community service and development projects, and Executive Director Amy Cavicchia said if she asks someone to volunteer, it’s because it’s something she’s also going to do herself.

Cavicchia has been easing in to her position at the nonprofit over the last two years and said her work with the Full Circle program has been focused on her elevator pitch and donor management.

“This program has really kept me focused and realizing what you can do and what you can’t do.” Cavicchia said. “Write it down, figure it out, do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t do, because you can’t do it.”

Associated Artists Pittsburgh

Associated Artists Pittsburgh was unavailable during the event. Their mission is to enhance the region’s cultural vitality and promote visual arts excellence by showcasing artists’ work through contemporary exhibitions, providing community-based education programs, and facilitating a broad dialogue to engage artists with one another and the community.