In the fall of 2016, we introduced you to a Robin Hood Foundation called the Grant Ready Insights and Training Project, also known as GRIT. This was a capacity-building effort for New York City nonprofits that involved workshops and individualized coaching. Back then, Suzi Epstein, Robin Hood’s managing director of jobs and economic security told me that organizations that serve youth and seniors often face the most difficulties in communicating their outcomes and getting the resources they need.
Well some time has passed, and now GRIT is in its second year. Robin Hood hasn’t published a ton of information about what the first round of nonprofits came away with after participating in GRIT. But then again, it is pretty difficult to make broad and sweeping conclusions after just a year. So, for now, we’re left to assume that GRIT Year One went pretty well because the foundation recently announced the application period for year two. The deadline for getting in those applications is August 1.
“Based on the momentum and enthusiasm of last year’s GRIT cohort, we are pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to a new group,” said Emary Aronson, interim chief program officer of Robin Hood. “By building the capacity of New York’s social service sector, we can reach more people in need.”
One of the 2016 GRIT participants, Wild Earth, credited the program for boosting its fundraising success. The group secured a couple impressive donations within just weeks of the GRIT training. Coincidence? Probably not.
“GRIT taught me how to communicate the impact of our programs in a concise and compelling way,” explained David Brownstein, the executive director of Wild Earth.
Once again, GRIT will be providing training to nonprofit executives like Brownstein this year. But there are a few catches. Your nonprofit has to be in the NYC metro area, be in operation for at least three years, and have an annual budget between $500,000 and $10 million.
The topics covered in these training sessions will include how to craft logic models, how to measure metrics for success, how to recruit and manage a board of directors, and how to approach fundraising the “Robin Hood way.” This program is made possible with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
As the saying goes, and as it applies to Robin Hood right now, some things change while others stay the same. While the foundation is staying the course with programs like GRIT, there’s been a lot of changes happening around the office otherwise. Back in April, Robin Hood hired a new CEO, Wes Moore, who’s nationally known as a social advocate, veteran, entrepreneur, and author. He grew up in the Bronx and founded and served as CEO of BridgeEdU most recently to chip away at the crises of college completion and job placement. This came shortly after the foundation appointed five new members to its board to broaden its geographic and diversity reach.
Moore recently published an op-ed in Time where he discussed growing up in tough circumstances and the importance of fighting a war on poverty, not "a war on the poor," as he put it.
Meanwhile, Robin Hood continues to remain in the spotlight and draw big-time support from donors. This spring, Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin gave a $15 million challenge grant to Robin Hood to put its fundraising prowess to the test for the sake of impoverished New Yorkers. At Robin Hood’s annual benefit at the Javits Center, it raised over $54.5 million.
This is the kind of fundraising power that Robin Hood continues to excel at and pass along to local nonprofits during the GRIT workshops. Application details and more information about the GRIT program can be viewed here. For selected nonprofit executives, six workshops will be held over the course of a couple months at the end of the year in the Robin Hood offices.