The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) will spin off its 2-year-old startup, Blue Meridian Partners, into an independent nonprofit as the New York City-based foundation aims to spend itself out of existence over the next several years.
Foundation staff and operations will transfer next year to Blue Meridian Partners, which will help the 50-year-old EMCF fulfill commitments and complete its work as it sunsets during the next three to four years. Eight of 41 staff positions at EMCF will be eliminated in light of the foundation’s “limited-life strategy,” announced almost two years ago. Seven program staff, in addition to nine already sharing in support of Blue Meridian operations, will join a team of 14 already in place.
“The decision to become independent and grow Blue Meridian Partners, Inc., is based on our successful results to date and our rising confidence in our model’s potential to expand and accomplish even more,” Chairman Stanley Druckenmiller and CEO Nancy Roob wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to “friends and colleagues” announcing the foundation’s final stage.
Blue Meridian Partners already has approved $350 million to back the first phase of each of its investees’ scaling plans and, pending their performance, will invest $1 billion or more to scale those programs, according to the announcement.
Since 2007, EMCF has “leveraged $155 million of our own resources to help 16 grantees secure nearly $487 million in additional private and public funding.” The launch of Blue Meridian Partners in 2016 encouraged 12 other co-investors to commit an additional $850 million to Blue Meridian, which seeks to “transform the life prospects of children and youth living in poverty.”
A new board will be appointed in January and initially will comprise a subset of Blue Meridian’s general partners, EMCF trustees and advisors. Blue Meridian staff and several EMCF staff will transfer to the new organization sometime in 2019 after which EMCF will continue to exist as a private foundation with a small board and necessary staff functions provided by Blue Meridian. The primary responsibility of the board will be to oversee management and distribution of remaining assets as the foundation finishes its work over then next three to four years and pays out grant commitments.
Blue Meridian will not be an endowed entity but an “evergreen” charity that “continually raises and deploys significant sums of capital to social sector leaders seeking to scale their interventions nationally and solve problems trapping youth and families in poverty.”
Harlem Children’s Zone evolved out of a program funded through the Program for New York Neighborhoods, an EMCF initiative that Roob developed before she was vice president and chief operating officer and eventually president of the foundation in 2005. EMCF is in the process of finding a home for its PropelNext program to continue beyond the life of the foundation. Other grantees include Youth Villages and Nurse-Family Partnership.