It’s Not Easy Being Seen

Hello dear blogosphere, miss me? Probably not, since you’re an anthropomorphization of my overactive imagination, but that’s OK. Still, it’s always fun to have someone to talk to, oh Figment! Today, my mind is ruminating programs, partnerships and policy (yes, I know it’s three “P’s” in a row and a truly scatological mnemonic), three interconnected components that relate the idea of conceptual capital.

See three P! Oh!


A scatologically bad mnemonic for an important concept.

I’m mostly thinking about these things because later this week we’ll be hosting the 2nd annual #STHAchieve Conference at the NYC Department of Education – a professional development series for DOE employees and nonprofit partners focused on supporting students and families affected by homelessness. I’ll explain more about this in a moment, but for the time being suffice it to say that it’s a little unusual to be hosting a 1,200 person conference for city agency employees. Of course, the subject of homelessness, its related traumas, and their impacts on youth development and educational attainment are both intuitively obvious (not good at all), and also highly complex. On its face, it’s clearly important to bring together the educational professionals and support staff who interact with students affected by homelessness so that we can identify strategies, resources and relationships to become better allies and advocates for these students.

But it’s also about lifting up the reality of homelessness in an environment where social emotional learning and whole child supports are still relatively new concepts, and where homelessness itself (and it’s related traumas and stigmas) can remain hidden.

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Are You TED Talk Ready?  The Importance of Conceptual Capital

Marie And Donny Osmond
It used to just take two. Those days are over.

In the callow youth of the nonprofit sector, you needed two kinds of capital: (1) financial capital, because money does, after all, grease the wheels of change, and (2) social capital, because proving you could fill the courthouse steps or get the Governor to answer your call was a way to make up for not having enough money.  But the NPO sector is burgeoning, the capacity for evaluation is still limited, and the power of social media has grown.  Now there’s a new kind of resource you need: conceptual capital.  It’s the stuff that drives your visibility in a crowded marketplace.  So what is it, why do you need it, and where do you get it?

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Let’s Turn this Old Barn into a Theater! (Part III of III)

Big Car in Indianapolis, IN is a former auto service center.

Dear Reader, About a year ago the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts (NOCD) working group asked your Man About Town to write a nice, juicy case study about what happens when cultural organizations buy non-cultural facilities and fix them up.  This three part series details my findings, although it’s well worth checking out the original report to see case studies from nearly a dozen cultural organizations across the country.  You can also read Part I and Part II of this series to learn more about the unique opportunities and challenges of adaptive reuse. Continue reading

Let’s Turn this Old Barn into a Theater! (Part II of III)

Grange halls make badass theater spaces.

Dear Reader, About a year ago the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts (NOCD) working group asked your Man About Town to write a nice, juicy case study about what happens when cultural organizations buy non-cultural facilities and fix them up.  This three part series details my findings, although it’s well worth checking out the original report to see case studies from nearly a dozen cultural organizations across the country.  Check out Part I of this series to learn more about the unique opportunities and challenges of adaptive reuse. Continue reading

What do LISC, Enterprise, NFF and CSH Have in Common with the Dodo? Nothing. (Part VI of VI)

All that’s left of the Dodo. Luckily, CSH, NFF, Enterprise and LISC are all still around.

Dear reader, as part of a special report for Shelterforce I sat down with the heads of four of the largest community development intermediaries in the country and asked a simple question:  Are you still relevant?

This six part series looks at the evolution of their role in the community development sector and their strategies for the future.

To binge-read the full reportclick here. Continue reading

What do LISC, Enterprise, NFF and CSH Have in Common with the Dodo? Nothing. (Part V of VI)

Disney’s Dodo: not known for innovative social finance policies.

Dear reader, as part of a special report for Shelterforce I sat down with the heads of four of the largest community development intermediaries in the country and asked a simple question:  Are you still relevant?

This six part series looks at the evolution of their role in the community development sector and their strategies for the future.

To binge-read the full reportclick here. Continue reading

What do LISC, Enterprise, NFF and CSH Have in Common with the Dodo? Nothing. (Part IV of VI)

The Dodo hangs with Alice in Wonderland. LISC, Enterprise, CSH and NFF are not building affordable housing there.

Dear reader, as part of a special report for Shelterforce I sat down with the heads of four of the largest community development intermediaries in the country and asked a simple question:  Are you still relevant?

This six part series looks at the evolution of their role in the community development sector and their strategies for the future.

To binge-read the full reportclick here.

Click on the following links to read Part IPart II or Part III. Continue reading

What do LISC, Enterprise, NFF and CSH Have in Common with the Dodo? Nothing. (Part II of VI)

This picture of a feisty dodo has nothing to do with this blog. – Image by Michael Kutsche

Dear reader, as part of a special report for Shelterforce I sat down with the heads of four of the largest community development intermediaries in the country and asked a simple question:  Are you still relevant?

This six part series looks at the evolution of their role in the community development sector and their strategies for the future.

To binge-read the full reportclick here. Continue reading

What do LISC, Enterprise, NFF and CSH Have in Common with the Dodo? Nothing. (Part I of VI)

The dodo has nothing to do with this blog series. Really. – Image by Daniel Eskridge

Dear reader, as part of a special report for Shelterforce I sat down with the heads of four of the largest community development intermediaries in the country and asked a simple question:  Are you still relevant?

This six part series looks at the evolution of their role in the community development sector and their strategies for the future.  To binge-read the full report, click here. Continue reading

What If Someone Gave You $5 Million (…and then asked for it back)? – Part II

It can be hard to not feel frazzled.

As I was saying, there are plenty of people who want to give your organization money.  Seriously.  Lots of it.  There is, of course, a catch: you have to give it back.

With interest.

Understandably, this stops most nonprofit executive directors in their tracks.  It’s no mean feat to raise the prodigious amounts of grant funding needed to run one of these juggernauts as it is.  It requires stamina, persistence, a LOT of friends, and just a touch of maniacal charm.  Now, the frazzled ED asks, you want me to spend a huge amount of time raising money I have to pay back?

Well, yes. And here’s why: Continue reading