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State Street

Youth Violence Prevention Funder Learning Collaborative


State Street


Youth Violence Prevention Funder Learning Collaborative


How does an early stage collaborative better define its strategic direction, solidify its structure, and determine how best to engage its members?



The Youth Violence Prevention Funder Learning Collaborative (YVP) was a network of businesses, foundations, government agency funders, and key experts formed to share knowledge, identify funding gaps, and promote dialogue to help funders and businesses coordinate and strategically align their efforts to increase their impact on youth violence in Boston.

The Collaborative was officially launched in 2009 after State Street announced a pledge of $1 million for efforts to prevent violence in Boston’s neighborhoods. The Collaborative was formed to address the fragmentation that existed between the many and varied funding streams that address social issues, including government funding and funding through corporate, community, institutional, and family foundations. Soon after its launch, it became apparent that in order to have significant impact, the Collaborative needed to develop a clearer articulation of its overall strategic direction and vision. In addition, to ensure that it could make the best use of the time and resources of its members, the Collaborative needed to determine the optimal organizational structure to help achieve this vision.


Root Cause worked with the Collaborative to articulate a theory of change that illustrated how the Collaborative’s work resulted in aligned and increased investment in programs to support better outcomes for youth in Boston neighborhoods. Our team also developed a clear organizational structure for the Collaborative that revolved around three core working groups and emphasized shared leadership in order to ensure buy-in and future sustainability.

Goals & Results

Root Cause remained involved with the Collaborative through 2016, its final year of operation. From 2009 onward, the Collaborative grew to include over 150 members and managed multiple initiatives and events. Root Cause provided project management, strategic insight and operational support to the Collaborative, as members took on such projects as developing a guide for funders to invest in summer jobs for Boston’s youth, hosting funder discussions on issues pertaining to Boston’s youth, and coordinating year-end gatherings of multiple stakeholders to foster further connection among members, grantees, and organizational partners.

After four years of working to bring funders together to align their actions, the YVP Funder Learning Collaborative assembled a set of lessons learned that provide a foundation for others to pursue funder alignment and a path forward for the Collaborative.  These lessons include:

  1. Anchor funders are critical to initiating and innovating for long-term impact.
  2. Engaging both public and private funders leverages resources in complementary ways for longer-term systems change.
  3. Focus on developing long-term sustainability early on, evolving the leadership and operating structure through an intentional business plan.
  4. Facilitation and project management are necessary for maintaining focus and engagement to achieve action.
  5. For system-level change, a collaborative endeavor must engage a broad range of stakeholders.
  6. Multiple paths exist to funder engagement.

Read the full report: The Career Pathways Framework: An Approach to Addressing Youth Violence.



National Youth Violence Prevention Week activities planned for Boston

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City of Boston
National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Plan

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Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
State Street Leads Initiative to Fight Violence and Fund Teen Jobs

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About the Partner

State Street

State Street Foundation, State Street’s charitable arm, makes grants to nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations in 26 countries. The Foundation’s primary strategic focus is education and workforce development.

The State Street Foundation believes the most effective way to improve the overall well-being of its communities is to help disadvantaged individuals earn and make a living. By keeping a sharp focus on education and work, The State Street Foundation brings lasting economic benefits to the communities where we live and work.

Since 2010, the Foundation’s Impact Framework has guided its investing in high-performing nonprofits that are providing measurable results in the following categories:

  • Education
  • Job-readiness
  • College success
  • Credentials
  • Work experience
  • Employment

The Foundation’s funding strategy serves disadvantaged populations and aligns with State Street’s talent and diversity goals.