Public/Private Ventures To Shut Down

May 4, 2012       Patrick Sullivan      

Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) in Philadelphia, Pa., a 35-year-old nonprofit that performs research and evaluation to strengthen social programs for populations such as recently released prisoners and poverty-stricken youth, will close its doors this summer. “I want to express my deep sadness and regret,” said P/PV’s president, Nadya K. Shmavonian. “It was not a decision the board or I took lightly.”

Shmavonian cited the slow economy, less support for programs serving the poor, the dwindling of the organization’s unrestricted endowment from the Ford Foundation (P/PV does not have a restricted endowment) and changes in methodologies of how research and evaluation is conducted and funded as reasons for the nonprofit’s demise.

“We had been monitoring our finances pretty closely,” she said. “As we look forward and do not have that core support (we’ve traditionally enjoyed), and as a relatively small organization trying to compete on a project basis in a very competitive environment, it’s very difficult to support the margins that are necessary to run an organization.”

The plan is to go through voluntary dissolution, said Shmavonian. “We have calculated what it takes to responsibly wind down: taking care of funders, seeing staff through the transition and moving projects.” She said she is “cautiously optimistic” that P/PV can avoid filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

The organization will close its doors on or about July 31. In addition to closing its three offices (in Philadelphia, New York City and Oakland, Calif.), the organization will attempt to finish some of its ongoing projects while moving others to the stewardship of other nonprofits. Shmavonian hopes that some of P/PV’s staff will be able to follow the projects to their new homes.

“One of my first priorities will be to see each staff member identify other employment,” she said.

P/PV has a large collection of publications related to employment, re-entry of prisoners into society, mentoring, in- and after-school programs, and community health. One of Shmavonian’s goals is to make sure those publications remain accessible. “It’s one of the richest parts of our legacy,” she said.

“We hope other organizations can pick up the slack, but that won’t be easy,” said Paul Shoemaker, executive connector of Social Venture Partners Seattle in Washington. “They have done great work for 35 years so that is more than a positive legacy; it’s just too bad they won’t be around for another 35.”

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