What We Do
Bolster Mission grows sustainable impact for large non-profit joint ventures.
We help local, regional and national non-profits increase their impact and new revenue potential through joint ventures by giving them the strategies and tools for lean operations and early-stage project management for effective execution.
We specialize in helping joint ventures focused on youth success in school, work and life.
- Shared Data Management & Analytics
- Project Management
National STEM Collaborative of Youth-Serving Organizations: Imagine Science
Imagine Science is a groundbreaking new partnership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA of the USA, the National 4-H Council and Girls Inc. founded in 2015 through a five year collaboration agreement that casts an aspirational goal of engaging 4 million disadvantaged youth through coordinated, high quality STEM positive youth development experiences by 2020. During the summer of 2015 Imagine Science local affiliated partners piloted the initiative’s proof of concept in three communities: Dallas (TX), Omaha (NE) and Orange County (CA) reaching more than 4,000 youth.
In 2016, the Imagine Science partnership – comprised of its four founding partners -will expand from three to 6 communities in Stage 2 of the pilot program period before nationwide expansion in 2017 and beyond.
Local collaborative community teams are supported by the Imagine Science national partners through financial investments and technical assistance. Working on the ground together the community teams align and complement one another’s operations through shared data, common standards of program quality and cooperative decision-making about outreach and retention in order to bring quality informal STEM to disadvantaged youth in under-resourced neighborhoods not likely to have been engaged otherwise.
Bolster Mission Consulting staffs the Imagine Science partnership and pilot program.
STRENGTHENING CHICAGO’S YOUTH AT LURIE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Founded by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in 2012, SCY is a collaborative of over 100 organizations statewide seeking to build capacity to address the problem of youth violence from a public health approach and encouraging partnerships that benefit Chicago’s children.
In 2013, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made public her goal to reduce the population at the County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) by moving more youth into community based support alternatives. This was against the backdrop of an anticipated rise in population at the JTDC due to Chicago Police tactics and new legislation that would raise the age of juvenile offenders to 18 years in 2014. That summer, Bolster Mission organized and facilitated a series of exploratory sessions with Chicago community youth development providers to assess what, if any, coordinated action could be taken to support Preckwinkle’s rally call. SCY/Lurie Children’s was host to the discussion series.
By January 2014, the now 11 participating organizations elected to formally coordinate their efforts and adopted the temporary name JTDC Alternatives Collaborative. With Bolster Mission’s support and facilitation, the organizations agreed on a common vision for a care-coordination model for justice-involved youth. Bolster Mission visualized a “Blueprint” of the essential elements of the coordinated referral and intake mechanism the group had collaboratively designed.
In February 2014, SCY/Lurie Children’s accepted an invitation from the JTDC Alternatives Collaborative to become the permanent home of the group and staff its “backbone” supports. SCY/Lurie Children’s subsequently invited Bolster Mission to help the group develop an operational program and coordination model based upon the “Blueprint” design. Program development will result in a theory of change defining target populations, service strategies, service standards and outcome metrics and enable the collaborative to finalize a service budget for the demonstration period.
The JTDC Alternatives Collaborative consists of a variety of organizations spanning the city and county, representing an array of positive youth development and clinical approaches. It includes the largest human service provider in the state and several organizations with more than a century of work on behalf of Chicago’s youth. Bolster Mission initially also coordinated advisory input directly from staff of the Justice Advisory Council under Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s Office as well as the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department, Director’s Office.
READING IN MOTION
Reading In Motion partners with schools and teachers to create and deliver a reading curriculum based in music and drama to help at-risk students read at or above grade level. The organization works in 20 schools, primarily CPS, and reaches upwards of 4,500 Kindergartners and First Graders a year. The organization recently completed an external evaluation of the impact of their programs.
Despite positive findings overall, they were continuing to track some counterintuitive trends in their own program and participant data that could not be answered by the study. They engaged Bolster Mission to perform data mining and analysis to probe a bit deeper into those trends. We undertook a three-step analysis and review process in partnership with Reading in Motion staff and leadership to filter out “the noise” in the data and zero in on the most meaningful questions and observations.
At the end of the project, we filtered down from 100+ technical charts to an 8-page story slide deck that answered Reading In Motion’s questions in infographic form and together with the insight of Reading In Motion staff, developed four recommended actions they could take immediately to respond to the trends in question. We also provided them with an Excel-based spreadsheet tool that enables them to use the same analyses for reflection and continuous improvement with their teachers and coaches moving forward.
WORLD CLASS SCHOOLS
World Class Schools (WCS) is a start-up not-for-profit organization based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Selected as a “Breakthrough School Models” Wave IV planning grantee by the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), WCS will empower teachers and leaders to design, implement and manage school models that promise to dramatically improve student learning experiences and close achievement gaps through redesigned teacher roles and personalized learning.
Bolster Mission served as WCS’ primary strategic development support during its first planning phase of the NGLC grant aiding in market analyses, logic model development, key audience messaging as well as Board planning and other administrative functions.
METROPOLITAN FAMILY SERVICES
Metropolitan Family Services (Metropolitan) is one of Chicagoland’s oldest and largest human service providers, founded in 1857, operating an annual budget of $74M, reaching 53,000 families annually. Metropolitan strengthens families and communities through counseling, legal aid, academic and learning supports and workforce development.
Bolster Mission worked with Metropolitan on the roll-out of a new, agency-wide continuous improvement plan built upon the Lean and Six Sigma professional development training and tools. While both Lean and Six Sigma have long been accepted effective management practices in the private sector, Metropolitan is the first major non-profit in the state to have put them into practice.
Metropolitan engaged Bolster Mission to aid in its organizational change management in order to help ensure the new data-driven staff practices aligned with the mission of the organization and strengthened their relationships with their clients.
SGA YOUTH & FAMILY SERVICES
SGA has been providing services in Chicago for over 100 years. Today SGA provides comprehensive support services to youth and their families to improve social and emotional well-being. In addition to running quality Head Start and Community Schools programs, they also implement a family life skills program that has been shown to improve the relationship of parents and their children and a youth mentoring program, Check and Connect, that helps youth stay engaged in school. SGA takes a community-based approach, focusing services in particular in the Brighton Park neighborhood and founding a promise neighborhood in the Roseland community, the Roseland Children’s Initiative.
SGA engaged Bolster Mission to identify their market position and the most compelling evidence base for the initiative and craft a targeted message for SGA to ramp up public and private support for their services. Bolster Mission is helping strengthen strategic relationships between SGA leadership and local government and key civic leaders in order to increase awareness of their impact and gain new financial support.
CHICAGO ALLIES FOR YOUTH SUCCESS
There was no single organization prior to 2011 tasked with coordinating the cradle-to-career services space in Chicago and, as a result, Chicago’s young people and families were left on their own to navigate a fragmented system to get the services and supports they needed to succeed.
Prior to founding Bolster Mission, Jim Chesire and Andrew Rice staffed the start-up, not-for-profit organization Chicago Allies for Youth Success, which acted as a backbone organization to coordinate youth services and incubate a cradle-to-career initiative in Chicago. ChicagoAllies succeeded in building a multi-sector partnership among the major government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private and corporate funders, representing more than $200 million in annual investments in young people in Chicago. After 18 months of strategic direction and relationship development, the cradle-to-career initiative was positioned in early 2013 to be successfully transitioned for direct oversight by the Mayor’s office.