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Cool, Composed and Creative: Taking Partnership to the Next Level

By Shikha Dalal on December 11, 2009No Comment

As the philanthropic industry evolves, there is a new fascination with the emerging trends and the creative partnership ideas that are produced by corporations and nonprofits alike. We see it in our inboxes each day, marked by new emails from CSRwire and other press releases and news alerts.

This notable movement from traditional nonprofit-corporate partnerships (e.g. check-writing) to partnerships with greater depth and more specific goals seem to be strengthening the dynamic between nonprofits and corporations.  To exemplify this trend, we’ve profiled the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, who recently revamped several notable partnerships with some of its longstanding corporate donors.

First a quick tutorial on the Hispanic Scholarship Fund:

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund provides the Hispanic community with more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country.  In its 34 year history, the organization has awarded close to $280 million in scholarships to more than 90,000 students in need.   Among these students, approximately two-thirds were the first in their families to attend college.

It is no shock that Latinos are and have been America’s largest racial minority and the fastest-growing demographic of the young adult work force.  Unfortunately, Latinos also have the lowest high school and college completion rates of any racial or ethnic group and serious discrepancies remain when Hispanic educational levels are compared to other groups.

Some facts:

  • Hispanics registered a 23.8% high school dropout rate, the highest of any major racial or ethnic group (ages 16 to 24), compared to 7 percent for non-Hispanic whites.
  • In 2000, 36% of Hispanic high-school graduates ages 18 to 24 enrolled in colleges and universities, compared to 44 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
  • About 12% of Hispanic adults currently have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

With these alarming statistics, it was imperative for HSF to take their existing partnerships to the next level.  And they did, forming some very cool and creative ones in the process.

Through a longstanding partnership, FedEx has provided HSF with a line of credit to offset shipping costs for educational program materials.  They’ve also connected with their scholars by shipping care packages to students at the beginning of the school year, as well as creating intern programs in all areas of their company.   Most recently, FedEx renewed its pledge for a three-year commitment which will fund five four-year scholarships through the 2011 academic year.  This funding will impact HSF’s ability to continue the current level of support to Latino students and help HSF work toward its mission of doubling the rate of Hispanics earning college degrees, to 18 percent.  Through this partnership, FedEx cleverly applied a core business practice (shipping) towards a simple, yet creative cause using an existing resource to provide a solution and close the gap on some of HSF’s key priorities.

Another notable partnership is Procter & Gamble’s recent support of HSF through a $1.5 million grant over the next four years.  The grant was provided to support scholarships in hopes of increasing participation from Latinos going into the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as well as sponsoring some additional educational outreach programs.  Here, the ingenuity was in Proctor & Gamble’s decision to fund a specific area of Education; an area which has traditionally received limited funding but is actually a major priority in the educational arena.  The funding initiative was initially developed by the donor and was determined to have direct alignment with HSF’s priorities. Here we see a great example of a mutual benefit; the corporation and nonprofit typically engage in a win-win partnership that advances the agendas of both organizations.

In conclusion, the corporate-nonprofit dynamic is on the rise and partnerships today are immensely different than they once were.  This certainly proves to be a great space for creative concepts to flourish.  We invite you to think about your recent partnerships and bring back your ideas for discussion!

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