Thanks for 'An Extraordinarily Precious and Rare Investment'

For Nadya K. Shmavonian, president of Public/Private Ventures, support from RWJF helped ease the pain of a program's final days.

    • June 28, 2012


I am writing in my final days as president of Public/Private Ventures (P/PV). Our last day in these offices is co-terminus with your deadline for submissions, so we won't even be here to receive the final publication of your stories.

Nonetheless, I wanted to write to say that RWJF has been extraordinarily important to us in fulfilling our mission to partner with organizations to improve the effectiveness of programs that serve youth and young adults living in high poverty communities. For most of our history with RWJF we were able to benefit from your largesse in providing research and evaluation that supports programs through the Vulnerable Populations portfolio.

In 2011, however, the Foundation also provided us with vital operating support (an extraordinarily precious and rare investment), as well as key project support to advance evaluation and assessment theory and practice. The core support was critical at a time of organizational change, and was a vote of confidence at a 'go/no go' inflection point for P/PV.

Although a year later we had to ultimately face one of the most painful decisions I have ever had to engage in and move into a wind-down scenario, I want to thank the Foundation for providing us with this past year's support. Had we made the decision a year ago to close, I would not have known in my heart that it was the right decision. With the benefit of another year's experience, we were able to make this decision with full knowledge, even though that was by no means where we had hoped to end up. I know this is not a happy ending, but I want the Foundation—and its readers—to know that this extra year was extremely important, and I and we will be forever grateful. I also want to say that the continued support of the

Foundation through what is a very challenging passage these final months is also deeply appreciated. Many Foundations would have 'cut bait' (and some have), whereas RWJF has managed this disappointing grantee outcome with continued support, grace and flexibility. To me, that is model philanthropy, and it has allowed us to move through this process while retaining as much of P/PV's 'voice' and work as possible. Which matters. As does the ongoing work of the Vulnerable Populations group. Thank you.

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