In 1997, Social Venture Partners was the inspiration of former Aldus Corporation President Paul Brainerd. Along with business leaders Scott Oki, Ida Cole, Bill Neukom and, Doug and Maggie Walker, Brainerd founded a new type of philanthropic organization, calling it Social Venture Partners. Through collaboration they believed they could make a bigger impact. The donors – Partners – would not only contribute financially, but would offer their time and expertise to build long-term partnerships with nonprofit organizations – Investees.
In 2006, Helaine Levy, Executive Director of Diamond Family Philanthropies, and Steve Alley, Former CEO/President of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, worked for over two years to bring this model to Tucson. After attending one of SVP’s annual conferences in Phoenix, Levy thought the model would be a good fit for Tucson. She thought it would be a good way for nonprofits and social agencies in the community to connect with new people who were looking to contribute and improve the community.
Their efforts resulted in Social Venture Partners Greater Tucson, which is a fund of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. Based on the community’s needs, our partners determined that our initial focus would be on community literacy. That focus shifted in 2012 to life skills, including literacy. This includes not only the ability to read, write and to speak, but the application of related skills which enable individuals of all ages to participate fully in the workplace, the marketplace, and in day-to-day community life.