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Longtime Non-profit is Casualty of Economic Conditions, Funding Trends


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After nearly 35 years of operation, Public/Private Ventures (PPV) will close by the end of July. The decision came after the Board of Directors concluded that, given current funding trends and economic conditions, PPV operations were not sustainable despite staff cuts and support from numerous private funders.

“We’ve been monitoring our finances for well over a year with the prospect that we might have to plan for a wind-down if we didn’t secure the kind of dedicated funding PPV has enjoyed in the past,” said PPV President Nadya Shmavonian. “But [that foresight] will allow us to do this in as responsible a manner as possible, with a real priority on moving the work and projects to a new homes.”

PPV, a national non-profit with offices in New York City, Philadelphia and Oakland, has worked to improve the effectiveness of social programs around the country, with a particular focus on young people from high-poverty communities.

The organization has about 40 active projects, and has already began the work of “winding down” -- finding suitable organizations to continue the programs, on a project-by-project basis.

In addition to establishing a central repository for the firm’s more than 30 years of publications, “this means completing as many projects as possible by July 31, transferring others to suitable organizations that can finish the work, and fulfilling our obligations to funders and program partners,” Shmavonian said in an e-mail to colleagues announcing the closure.

Nadya Shmavonian
Nadya Shmavonian, president of P/PV

PPV still plans to publish several major publications before the July deadline, and at least some staffers hope to follow their projects to completion at partnering organizations.

“I think everyone here is deeply committed to their work,” Shmavonian said. “I have full confidence that the staff here is going to work with their head held high, and in pursuit of the mission we’ve worked so hard on all these years.”

“What we’re most worried about is: where will data be developed, analyzed and reviewed with a thoughtful, deep perspective on building knowledge about what makes programs effective working with some of the most hard-to-reach young people in our country?” Shmavonian said.

PPV has worked on a long list of projects across the social services industry over the decades – including longitudinal studies with the Boys and Girls Club, research and funding calculators for Out-Of-School program options and costs, and working with workforce development organizations in Chicago to help use data as a tool for performance improvement, just to name a few – but the current funding environment has made it challenging to continue the work.

“As a small firm, we have this mission focus on youth and that’s important, but it’s still hard to compete,” Shmavonian said. “I think one of the challenges in the funding environment is that there is not enough funders to give long-term, targeted core support to organizations that are key to whatever sector they are working in -- and I think intermediary organizations should also be considered in that core support equation.”

“Part of what made PPV great through much of its early, and over half of its, existence,” she said, “was dedicated core support that gave us the opportunity not just to do project-by-project, but in fact be working on field building in partnership with funders and practitioners.”


Photos: Public/Private Ventures

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Clay Duda

Clay Duda is a freelance multimedia journalist and photographer based in Atlanta, Ga. He is an editor at Creative Loafing, Atlanta's long-standing alternative weekly newspaper, and a former JJIE staffer.