Leveraging Philanthropy and Collaboration

The Lodestar Foundation seeks to expand the overall capacity of the social sector by promoting philanthropy, volunteering, public service, nonprofit collaboration and other business practices.

Our Grants

Exploration of Joint Arts Research and Policy Institute

Fractured Atlas and the Future of Music Coalition, two artist-oriented nonprofit organizations, sought to explore the possibility of creating a jointly-managed arts research and policy institute whose work would seek to harmonize cultural and technological policies. The prospective institute would have analyzed public policy, conducted and published research on issues such as new media distribution channels and artist revenue streams, and provided guidance to organizations seeking to mobilize advocacy for the cultural sector. The exploration resulted in a decision to not proceed with the collaboration at this time. The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration provided support for the consultant costs associated with exploring a possible partnership.

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Joint Marketing of Arts Organizations

Because many arts organizations in the Phoenix area lack sufficient marketing funds, the nonprofit Alliance for Audience was formed to provide joint marketing services to a collaboration of performing arts groups. Three Lodestar Foundation grants helped expand the Alliance’s reach by enhancing its website and designing and implementing a marketing plan. Notwithstanding community efforts to sustain the organization, Alliance for Audience shut its doors in October 2012.

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Joint Purchase of Software Management System

Three Phoenix-based arts organizations – The Phoenix Symphony, Ballet Arizona and the Arizona Opera – partnered to purchase Tessitura, a fully-integrated software system for joint use. Designed especially for arts organizations, the software system manages ticketing, subscriptions and box office operations as well as fundraising and marketing activities. As part of the partnership, the three groups agreed to cross-market their organizations to their respective patrons and to the public. A Lodestar Foundation grant helped to purchase the software system.

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Merger of Educational News Outlets to Increase Impact

Two news organizations dedicated to daily in-depth news and analysis of school politics, policy and research, New York-based Gotham Schools and Denver-based EdNews Colorado, merged in 2012 to create the Chalkbeat. While both had risen to the position of being “the source” for education-related news in their respective communities, individually they were sub-scale and faced significant challenges operating as stand-alone entities. Together, they were able to attract national funders with the goal of expanding into additional local markets. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped fund merger-related expenses.

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Merger of Five Literacy Organizations

Five literacy organizations in Tucson, Ariz. – The Literacy for Life Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, Reach Out and Read Southern Arizona, Reading Seed and Stories that Soar – merged to become a powerful champion of literacy in all its forms. Separately, each organization operated on a small budget with limited staff and administrative systems. Together the merged organizations – now named Literacy Connects – are able to develop robust systems and processes, reduce overall administrative expenses, serve as a powerful advocate for literacy projects in the region and offer integrated programming in the promotion of literacy from birth through adulthood. The Lodestar Foundation provided funding for the merger.

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Merger of Habitat for Humanity Affiliates

Due to the close proximity of Habitat for Humanity Seattle/South King County and Habitat for Humanity East King County, the two organizations were often confused for one another and competed for the same financial support. Leaders of both Habitat for Humanity affiliates realized the potential benefits of merging operations to better serve their residents and maximize their impact. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund helped retain a consultant to facilitate the merger exploratory process from organizing an initial steering meeting to preparing a final recommendation. In 2012 the organizations merged to form Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County.

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Merger of Homeless Prevention Programs

With the impending retirement of its veteran executive director, Our Family Services’ board of directors identified the executive director of New Beginnings for Women and Children as an ideal successor candidate for the position. Seeing an opportunity to create a continuum of services for the Tucson community by merging the two nonprofits’ complementary housing and support services, the organizations merged. A challenge grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped support merger-related costs.

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Merger of Literacy Organizations for National Impact

Reading Partners, a national literacy program headquartered in Oakland, Calif., wanted to expand into the after-school market and was looking to partner with an after-school program that had a strong literacy-focused curriculum. Reading Partners was attracted to Mission Learning Center’s community-based after-school literacy program and acquired the organization. The acquisition offered programmatic benefits to both organizations. Reading Partners created after-school programs that used curricula developed with components of Mission Learn Center’s creative program and Mission Learning Center utilized Reading Partners’ highly-efficient AmeriCorps staffing modeling while continuing to serve its community. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration grant helped finance costs associated with the acquisition.

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Merger of Mental Health/Substance Abuse Nonprofits

After having worked together on various partnerships for 15 years, Birmingham Group Health Services and Harbor Health Services, two nonprofit organizations that provided mental health and substance abuse services in Greater New Haven, Conn., merged in 2012 to form BHcare. The merger improved efficiency enabled greater programmatic scope and scale. A challenge grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration supported expenses related to the merger.

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Merger of Nonprofits Serving People with Developmental Disabilities

St. Louis Arc and the Belle Center provided complementary services to the developmentally disabled in greater St. Louis with each organization focused on a different age group. As demand for the Belle Center’s programs grew substantially, the organization began offering joint programming with the larger St. Louis Arc. The two organizations ultimately merged in 2012, enabling the Belle Center’s limited staff to focus on program delivery. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped finance expenses associated with the merger.

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Merger of Social Service Media Organizations

Like PCI-Media Impact, Media for Health used storytelling as an avenue to affect social change. Media for Health, however, focused its content solely on U.S.-distributed radio programs, while the larger PCI-Media Impact produced multi-media programs for 30 countries. In 2012, PCI-Media Impact acquired Media for Health. The mutually-beneficial acquisition allowed PCI-Media Impact to expand its domestic programming and provided stability and the opportunity for growth of Media for Health’s programs. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration grant supported expenses related to the acquisition.

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Merger of Two Community Theaters

While the Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern and Theatre IV had shared management, artistic staff and performance spaces since 2001, they continued to operate as separate nonprofit organizations, which resulted in several duplications of efforts. In 2012 the organizations merged, not only to address the inefficiencies of maintaining multiple Web sites, audit processes and marketing efforts but also to strengthen its fundraising capacity and the community’s recognition of its impact. The newly formed Virginia Repertory Theatre combined the Barksdale Theatre’s adult classical and contemporary offerings and Theatre IV’s education and youth programs. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund was used to support one-time expenses associated with the merger.

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Merger of Two Youth-Serving Nonprofits

In 2012, Good Shepherd Services and Groundwork, two New York City nonprofit organizations serving youth and children, merged. The merger enabled the highly respected and significantly larger Good Shepherd Services to expand its programs into East New York, one of the most distressed areas of New York City, where Groundwork operated. In addition, Good Shepherd Services’ high-functioning leadership team and its management systems stabilized the smaller and younger Groundwork’s programs. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund helped fund the merger.

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Merger of United Way Affiliates

Battle Creek, Mich., and Kalamazoo, Mich., are closely linked communities located within 30 miles of each other. Many of their residents live in one town and commute to work in the other. Their major employers are active in both communities. Social issues and the agencies addressing them also straddle their boundaries. These demographic changes have made the borders between the United Way of Greater Battle Creek and Greater Kalamazoo United Way irrelevant and, at times, problematic, causing them to compete for donors. The two agencies decided to merge to better serve their communities and generate a greater regional impact while simultaneously achieving significant annual administrative cost savings. A challenge grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund helped fund the merger that formed the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

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Merger of Workforce Re-entry Programs for Ex-Felons and Recovering Addicts

Project for Pride in Living Enterprises and Rebuild Resources were both nonprofit organizations helping recovering addicts and ex-felons from the St. Paul and Minneapolis area re-enter the workforce. When Rebuild Resources’ long-time CEO resigned, the two organizations began to explore the possibility of merging their operations. Benefits of the merger included a more efficient balance of the staff-to-clients ratio, aligned fundraising strategies, administrative cost savings and eliminated competition for donors between the organizations. The merged entity took the name Momentum Enterprises. A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration challenge grant provided funding restricted to merger-related expenses.

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Merger Resulting from Co-Location of Abuse Victim Organizations

In 2010, two Long Island-based nonprofit organizations working with abuse victims – the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Abuse and Violence and the Coalition Against Child Abuse and Neglect – co-located to better serve their clients. Co-location resulted in programmatic synergy, co-trainings and greater information sharing. With programmatic collaboration already in place, the two organizations’ boards decided that by merging they could also produce long-term operational efficiencies by combining administration functions and systems. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration helped the newly formed Safe Center LI finance costs associated with the merger.

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Multi-Tenant Nonprofit Centers

The Nonprofit Centers Network (NCN) supports the development and operation of multi-tenant nonprofit centers and shared-service arrangements. Lodestar has provided substantial support over the years to increase the capacity of NCN to advise and inform the sector about shared-space and shared-service projects.  The NCN 2011 Impact Assessment Study, underwritten by the Lodestar Foundation in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, demonstrated that shared nonprofit spaces and services yield significant efficiencies and impact and that shared spaces often become homes for new and important collaborations.  In 2012, the Lodestar Foundation, again in partnership with the Kresge Foundation, provided a three-year grant to NCN to expand marketing, training and new product development. Additional grants have helped NCN expand both resources and programming.

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Charter Management Organization to Strengthen Cleveland Charter Schools

Three independent Cleveland charter schools – Citizens Academy, The Intergenerational Schools and E Prep – established Breakthrough Charter Schools, a charter management organization, in 2010. This central entity both streamlined the schools’ operations by providing consolidated administrative, marketing and fundraising functions and positioned the operation to receive national funding (a $2 million grant was obtained soon after the partnership formed). A SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration challenge grant provided funding for partnership-related expenses.

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