Social impact fund New Coast Foundation publicly launched yesterday, with the goal to accelerate the growth and impact of organizations working to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty throughout Chicago. New Coast Foundation seeks to identify, invest in and support emerging and effective nonprofit organizations that are often vulnerable to funding gaps and other growth-related challenges. It will focus on nonprofits with a proven track record that are past the start-up phase and are pre-scale.
New Coast Foundation also announced the rollout of its first initiative, a venture philanthropy fund that allows other foundations and philanthropists to co-invest in grantees. For its first investment, New Coast partnered with the Skender Foundation, which has been supporting community education and wellness programs across Chicago and San Francisco since 2012, to make a grant to early childhood education nonprofit VOCEL.
“New Coast Foundation is a vehicle to invest in new ways of framing old problems. By promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of the city’s social impact community, we are moving forward interventions with high potential to influence practice, policy and possibly even wider systems of change across Chicago,” said Alex Ross, founder and chairman of New Coast Foundation. Ross is a next generation philanthropist who is also co-founder of New Coast Ventures, a boutique venture capital fund based in Chicago.
The mission of the Skender Foundation—the 501(c)(3) public foundation arm of Chicago-based Skender—is to provide access to resources and relationships that help people make good life decisions through greater education and wellness. By co-investing under the New Coast framework, corporations, philanthropists and foundations such as Skender Foundation match New Coast Foundation’s financial support to the selected grantee, thereby maximizing the impact of their investment beyond what they would be able to do alone. And New Coast’s rigorous vetting and capacity support to grantees helps to ensure a greater accountability and effectiveness. Skender Foundation’s newly established endowment fund is the source of its grant to VOCEL.
“We believe that Skender Foundation has a responsibility to invest in making communities stronger, and our new endowment fund allows us to provide long-term, meaningful grants that will make a considerable impact to organizations like VOCEL. Our investment in VOCEL and partnership with New Coast Foundation enhances the support of a nonprofit that has already impacted the lives of so many in Chicago,” said Cheryl Skender, chair and president of the Skender Foundation.
Ross’s vision for New Coast Foundation grew out of his commitment to helping launch innovative ideas, as well as from his experience with both seasoned and next-generation philanthropists. He believes in making deep and intentional investments to combat the city’s toughest challenges, from violence to lack of affordable housing.
Similar to a venture capital model, New Coast will aggregate philanthropic dollars, identify the most promising nonprofits, and then serve as a growth capital funder and strategic partner for emerging organizations at a critical stage in their development. To ensure the greatest impact, New Coast’s approach will eventually include three key initiatives: grantmaking, impact investing and supporting knowledge exchange. The social impact fund’s ultimate goal is to build stronger, more efficient organizations that are delivering on social innovation in Chicago.
VOCEL was founded to bring exemplary education opportunities to underserved communities by helping parents and their children, especially zero to three years old, thrive inside and outside the classroom. Founded by two former Teach For America educators, VOCEL’s innovative approach to early learning is rooted in language development, parent coaching and an open, intentional teaching style. VOCEL currently facilitates two programs—Child Parent Academy and Early Learning Center. Both programs are designed to nurture curiosity and collaboration among young children and empower parents to be invested in their children’s development.