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

As such, we spent much of 2013 collaborating with our three grantees to help define what they needed most to succeed. Following extensive interviews and site visits, all three organizations 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.

We are pleased to announce that the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation will invest in a $300,000 nonprofit collaboration grant for three years to support Inwood House, New Life of New York City, Inc. and PAVE Academy Charter School using the adaptive leadership training and development process.

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.

During year one, the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation will introduce the adaptive framework to Inwood House, New Life and PAVE through four collaborative and interactive group trainings. In between these trainings, each group will receive individualized coaching to apply what they have learned to immediately address critical challenges within their organization. Through this process, participants will work with trainer(s) to develop the adaptive leadership skills to meet each organization’s specific challenge. Year one will inform the thematic focus for years two and three, which may include topics such as advocacy, storytelling and fundraising.

We invite you to meet our three grantees

Inwood House
Inwood House is a 185-year-old direct service nonprofit that 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.

“Nonprofits are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the recession, where the demand for services is increasing and the resources available are shrinking. Strategic planning is no longer an annual undertaking, but rather a way of operating and adapting to rapid changes. It may be human to resist change, but it is not an option. To thrive, nonprofits must anticipate change, embrace it and respond strategically. All hands must be on deck and the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation is giving us the support to learn how to accomplish it .”
– Linda Lausell Bryant, PhD, MSW, executive director

New Life of New York City, Inc.
New Life saw an impressive 73% increase in the number of kids participating in their programs in 2013.

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.

“If the statement that, ‘There’s no I in team,’ is true, then adaptive leadership is of the utmost importance for the growth and existence of our organization. As executive director, I’m grateful to the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation for taking the initiative in listening to the cry of a few organizations and helping us get the tools we need to lead in this ever-changing world.”
– Efrain Figueroa Jr., executive director

Pave Academy Charter School
PAVE scholars scored among the top 15% of all charter school students on the 2013 New York State Math Test.

Rigorous academic programs and a value-driven community serve as the foundation of the PAVE Academy Charter School, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade students. 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 reaches minority students, many living in public housing, and continues to lead their charge of: Building Citizens and Scholars Brick by Brick.

“The opportunity to learn about and utilize the adaptive leadership framework has come at a fortuitous time. PAVE is in the midst of exciting and significant organizational growth, and this framework will help us move forward thoughtfully and strategically. We are so grateful to the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation for involving PAVE in this unique collaboration and supporting our organization’s development.”
– Ali Donovan, director of development and talent