The B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation

in Action

A fundamental element of the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support in the form of charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations that primarily focus on the education and empowerment of young people. Our core principles include:

  • Dedication to underserved, vulnerable populations
  • Investment in high-impact, preventive strategies
  • Commitment to data and outcome-driven decision making
  • Provision of general operating support
  • A belief in open and transparent communication with grantees

When the Foundation started, we spent much of the first year collaborating with our three grantees to help define what they needed most to succeed. Following extensive interviews and site visits, they identified leadership training as a critical, yet often neglected, area. By investing in leadership training, the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation could help these grantees to decrease staff turnover, increase engagement and enhance long-term outcomes for program participants of each organization.

The B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation concluded its three year, $300,000 nonprofit collaboration grant to support Inwood House, New Life of New York City, Inc. and PAVE Schools in using the adaptive leadership training and development process at the end of 2016.

What is adaptive leadership? To create intentional and tangible change in these organizations, we sought new, exciting approaches to leadership training. Our grantees are facing many new challenges as a result of a rapidly changing environment. In order to survive and thrive, our grantees must have the capability to learn and adapt to changes. Collectively, our grantees have to create a new way to engage their staff in the process of adaptation rather than relying on simple solutions such as implementing a new policy to solve a problem. This process of adaptation will require a change in values, behaviors, beliefs, roles, relationships and approaches to work.

In the first year of the grant we worked with only senior staff, in the second with additional staff on an organization specific challenge, and in the third with staff working in teams from the other organizations on each other’s specific challenge. At the conclusion of the third year, our evaluators found that the participants felt their organizations benefitted directly from the training by impacting organizational dynamics, initiating conversations about challenges that had not been previously addressed, and helping colleagues improve communication so they could focus more on services to the children.

We expanded our adaptive leadership grants to include support for courses taught to post graduate students by Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant, MSW, PhD at the NYU Silver School of Social Work (and the former Executive Director of Inwood House). We also fund a cohort of NYU Fellows each spring to integrate the adaptive leadership training into their social work field placements. In addition, we are partially funding new programs at both Inwood House, which recently merged with Childrens Village, and New Life. Children’s Village will offer an adaptive leadership course for leaders of small nonprofits that serve youth in Harlem and the Bronx and New Life will offer the same training for youth to help them become Youth Advocates around a specific challenge in their neighborhood.

We invite you to meet some of our grantees

Inwood House and Children’s Village
Inwood House is a 185-year-old direct service nonprofit that recently merged with The Children’s Village and serves more than 1,200 young people throughout New York City each year.

Through prevention and support programs, Inwood House helps youth overcome the cycles of poverty associated with teenage pregnancy. The holistic needs of young people are of the utmost concern, and programs focus on physical and mental health, education, employability, relationships, parenting skills and infant wellbeing. Inwood House’s prevention and teen family support programs are designed to help teenagers take charge of their lives, actively participate in their families, communities and society, and serve as positive examples to other young people. https://inwoodhouse.com http://childrensvillage.org/

“In an ever-shifting world of challenges for organizations, the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation supports an impactful training that gives professionals lasting tools for navigating these dynamics.  The Practice of Adaptive Leadership offers an analytical approach to exercising new skills, identifying solutions differently,  and strengthening adaptive capacity to face challenges.  Under the guidance of expert trainers, participants learn by actually doing and applying this framework to current circumstances and experiences.  This model is grounded in reality and optimism, inspiring participants to use techniques for practicing leadership and helping organizations thrive.”                      –  Pat Maloney, PREP Project Director, Inwood House Division, The Children’s Village

New Life of New York City, Inc.
New Life of NYC has increased its capacity over the last four years to serve 950 students a year and is collaborating with a new partner to extend its mission to the Bronx for the first time, and to serve an additional 150-200 youth.

For more than 30 years, New Life has served urban youth through programs and relationships aimed at improving the lives and communities of the poor and at risk. Founded in Manhattan by Robert and Mary Nixon, New Life provides inner-city kids with educational opportunities, field trips, sports leagues, counseling, skills training and self-improvement programs. These offerings continue to fulfill New Life’s mission of challenging New York City youth to expand their world, explore new places and help them develop their potential and fulfill their dreams. http://www.newlifeofnyc.org

“I consider myself blessed to have collaborated with the other BRWF grantees, directly applying what we have learned in the Adaptive Leadership training process to challenge our staff to be more productive, compassionate, committed and relational when it comes to our programs. The BRWF has taken the initiative to think outside of the box, and that is exactly what we need to reach the youth of this culture today.”
– Efrain Figueroa Jr., executive director

Pave Schools
In elementary school, PAVE is close to having eliminated the achievement gap in both ELA and Math! In 2015-2016, our PAVE 3rd and 4th graders were 60% proficient/advanced in ELA and math combined vs. 61% for white and Asian students.

Founded on the belief that a strong school can transform a community, PAVE focuses its efforts in neighborhoods where schools have historically struggled to prepare children to graduate from high school. PAVE students are two times more likely to be on a college trajectory than students attending the other neighborhood public school options. Using the school’s four core values of Perseverance, Achievement, Vibrance and Excellent Character, PAVE prepares students for a lifetime of success in competitive high schools and four-year colleges. PAVE’s team of highly qualified, certified educators and school leaders reaches economically-disadvantaged students, many living in public housing, and continues to lead their charge of: Building Citizens and Scholars Brick by Brick.  Today PAVE Schools educates over 750 Pre-Kindergarten through 8th Grade students in New York and North Carolina. http://paveschools.org.

“PAVE has grown tremendously in the past three years as an organization, and the adaptive leadership cohort and framework has been a consistent and powerful resource to the organization’s senior leaders along the way.  We are so grateful to the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation for involving PAVE in this unique collaboration and supporting our organization’s development.”                                                                                                                   – Cooper Westendarp, Co-Founder/COO/CFO

Additional Grantees

Boys and Girls Club of Wake County http://wakebgc.org/

New York Botanical Garden  http://www.nybg.org/

NYU School of Social Work for a Masters level class in Adaptive Leadership http://socialwork.nyu.edu

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association  http://www.yyaa.org

UNC Chapel Hill Foundation for the B. Robert Williamson Scholarship http://www.unc.edu