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

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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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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Exploration of Possible Collaborations to Strengthen Programs

Arizona Women’s Education & Employment, Inc. (AWEE) and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation both work to empower women through providing education and employment services. As like-missioned entities, the two organizations wished to explore the possibility of merging. The Lodestar Foundation provided a grant to hire a consultant to lead AWEE and Fresh Start through the collaboration exploration process; the organizations ultimately decided not to merge.

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Merger of Dance Company and Dance Facility

The New York City-based Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company sought a permanent home and estimated that it would cost $30 million to purchase and renovate a facility. Dance Theater Workshop, a New York City-based center for the development and presentation of contemporary dance and performance, conversely, had a dance facility but was looking for a co-tenant to help defray their venue-related costs. While initial discussions centered on a long-term tenancy arrangement, the two nonprofit arts organizations ultimately merged to form New York Live Arts in 2011. A primary goal of the merger was to achieve long-term financial stability for the organizations not only through sharing a venue but also by reducing administrative overlap and launching a blended capital campaign. A grant from the SeaChange-Lodestar Fund provided support for one-time costs associated with the merger.

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Merger of Wildlife Advocacy Nonprofits

The Center for Native Ecosystems and Colorado Wild, two Colorado-based nonprofit conservation organizations that worked on issues related to wildlife, biodiversity and habitat protection in the state, had previously collaborated on preserving wildlife corridors. The organizations targeted their work on different geographic areas: the Center for Native Ecosystems concentrated its efforts on Bureau of Land Management lands while Colorado Wild focused on National Forest lands. In 2011 the organizations merged and became Rocky Mountain Wild. Now the largest organization in the field of wildlife, biodiversity and habitat protection in Colorado, the merged organization has greater resources to recruit members and advocate on behalf of pro-conservation legislation. The Lodestar Foundation provided the organizations a challenge grant to raise funds for one-time merger-related expenses.

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Merger to Facilitate Growth of Mentoring Programs

Arizona Quest for Kids and Greater Phoenix Youth at Risk both provided mentoring and enrichment programs for at-risk Arizona students. In 2010, the two organizations, which had similar missions and visions, began to explore merging their operations in order to provide enhanced services to their communities and constituents. The Lodestar Foundation made two grants to help fund merger services. Funds from the first grant were used to complete research and analysis for a merger assessment. The second grant funded the facilitation and implementation of the merger plan; the merged organizations became New Pathways for Youth.

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Prison Program Transfer to Women?s Job Training Agency

Women Living Free, a newly-formed agency providing women leaving the Arizona prison system with tools and support to break the recidivism cycle, was having difficulty developing the infrastructure to survive as an independent agency. Arizona Women's Education and Employment, Inc. (AWEE), a well-established women's job-training organization that had been providing program support to Women Living Free, absorbed the Women Living Free program, with Lodestar underwriting the acquisition costs and the subsequent dissolution of Women Living Free. By integrating the successful Women Living Free program into the strong AWEE infrastructure, AWEE was able to quickly become expert in the field and secure millions of grant dollars for the program.

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