Blue Meridian, Big Bet Investor in Child Welfare Programs, Becomes a Nonprofit

Blue Meridian Partners, now housed at Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, will become a standalone nonprofit.

Blue Meridian Partners, a philanthropic venture making massive bets to improve the child welfare field, will become a standalone nonprofit as its foundation home winds down over the next year.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) has housed the venture since it was launched three years ago with funding commitments from Ballmer Group, The Duke Endowment, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and several others. Blue Meridian has already given out $350 million, and has aggregated $1.7 billion in planned giving.

But EMCF has since announced that it will spend down its assets over the course of the next few years, meaning it could no longer house the operation.

“Blue Meridian Partners, Inc. will not be an endowed entity,” according to a statement issued by EMCF last week. “We aspire for Blue Meridian Partners to become an ‘evergreen’ (501)(c)(3) 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.”

Blue Meridian, which began in 2015, is built around the notion of “big bets” with large infusions of capital to help take a tested intervention or service model from modest to massive reach.

In launching the initiative, EMCF CEO Nancy Roob specified three sectors that will garner attention from Blue Meridian: child welfare, education and the judiciary, along with “other systems that affect children’s lives.”

The first four organizations selected by Blue Meridian all fit that bill, and stand to scale up nationally with investments that could reach $200 million each if they meet certain milestones. Those organizations are:

  • Nurse-Family Partnership, a home visitation program that pairs nurses with young and first-time mothers.
  • Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which trains and supports the hiring of adoption specialists to focus on older foster youth and children with special needs.
  • Youth Villages, a multi-service child welfare and juvenile justice provider with a program aimed at helping those youth aging out of foster care prepare for adulthood.
  • Healthy Steps for Young Children, which puts “healthy steps specialists” in place with pediatric doctors and centers to assist parents with gaining access to early childhood resources and services.

National investments have followed since for Year Up and the Center for Employment Opportunities, with a possible addition of the Bail Project. Blue Meridian is also funding efforts at regional early childhood coverage in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Guilford County, North Carolina.

Blue Meridian will be overseen by a new board starting in January 2019.

Within the next year, Blue Meridian Partners’ staff and several EMCF team members will transition to the new organization. To ensure a smooth transition, Blue Meridian Partners, Inc. will help EMCF follow through on its limited-life strategy and complete its remaining work without maintaining a separate team and infrastructure.

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John Kelly
About John Kelly 973 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.