New Coast Foundation Launches to Support Emerging Organizations Working to Combat Poverty in Chicago Neighborhoods

New Coast Foundation partners with Skender Foundation and Announces VOCEL as first grantee

CHICAGO – May 30, 2018 – Social impact fund New Coast Foundation publicly launched today to accelerate the growth and impact of organizations working to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty throughout Chicago. New Coast Foundation seeks to identify, invest in and support emerging and effective nonprofit organizations that are often vulnerable to funding gaps and other growth-related challenges. It will focus on nonprofits with a proven track record that are past the start-up phase and are pre-scale.

New Coast Foundation also announced the rollout of its first initiative, a venture philanthropy fund that allows other foundations and philanthropists to co-invest in grantees. For its first investment, New Coast partnered with the Skender Foundation, which has been supporting community education and wellness programs across Chicago and San Francisco since 2012, to make a grant to early childhood education nonprofit VOCEL.

“New Coast Foundation is a vehicle to invest in new ways of framing old problems. By promoting the entrepreneurial spirt of the city’s social impact community, we are moving forward interventions with high potential to influence practice, policy, and possibly even wider systems of change across Chicago,” said Alex Ross, founder and chairman of New Coast Foundation. Ross is a next generation philanthropist who is also co-founder of New Coast Ventures, a boutique venture capital fund based in Chicago.

Ross’s vision for New Coast Foundation grew out of his commitment to helping launch innovative ideas, as well as from his experience with both seasoned and next-generation philanthropists. He believes in making deep and intentional investments to combat the city’s toughest challenges, from violence to lack of affordable housing.

Similar to a venture capital model, New Coast will aggregate philanthropic dollars, identify the most promising nonprofits, and then serve as a growth capital funder and strategic partner for emerging organizations at a critical stage in their development. To ensure the greatest impact, New Coast’s approach will eventually include three key initiatives: grantmaking, impact investing, and supporting knowledge exchange. The social impact fund’s ultimate goal is to build stronger, more efficient organizations that are delivering on social innovation in Chicago.

More About New Coast Foundation’s Model
Grantees receive unrestricted capital of $300,000 over the course of three years, in addition to coaching and technical assistance from New Coast staff and partners. This flexible funding model gives high-performing organizations the ability to invest in areas they feel are most critical, such as developing stronger, more responsive internal systems; evaluating outcomes; and increasing program efficiency to scale their models. Grantees receive access to New Coast’s network of pro bono partners – from accounting and technology to communications – who also provide support throughout the course of the investment.

“By offering an opportunity for philanthropists to donate directly to New Coast Foundation or to partner with us as a co-investor, our partners decide how involved they want to be in our due-diligence, rigorous monitoring and evaluation and capacity building support. Ultimately, this collaborative investment model maximizes the effectiveness and reach of New Coast Foundation’s and our partners’ philanthropic resources, as well as ensures that critical resources are being directed to the most effective nonprofits tackling our city’s most pressing challenges,” said Julie Hoffmann, CEO of New Coast Foundation.

Skender Foundation: New Coast Foundation’s First Co-Investment Partner
The Skender Foundation’s mission is to provide access to resources and relationships that help people make good life decisions through greater education and wellness. By co-investing under the New Coast framework, corporations, philanthropists and foundations such as Skender Foundation match New Coast Foundation’s financial support to the selected grantee, thereby maximizing the impact of their investment beyond what they would be able to do alone. And New Coast’s rigorous vetting and capacity support to grantees helps to ensure a greater accountability and effectiveness. Skender Foundation’s newly established endowment fund is the source of its grant to VOCEL.

“We believe that Skender Foundation has a responsibility to invest in making communities stronger, and our new endowment fund allows us to provide long-term, meaningful grants that will make a considerable impact to organizations like VOCEL. Our investment in VOCEL and partnership with New Coast Foundation enhances the support of a nonprofit that has already impacted the lives of so many in Chicago,” said Cheryl Skender, Chair and President of the Skender Foundation.

VOCEL: New Coast Foundation’s First Grantee
VOCEL was founded to bring exemplary education opportunities to underserved communities by helping parents and their children, especially zero to three years old thrive inside and outside the classroom. Founded by two former Teach For America educators, VOCEL’s innovative approach to early learning is rooted in language development, parent coaching and an open, intentional teaching style. VOCEL currently facilitates two programs – Child Parent Academy and Early Learning Center. Both programs are designed to nurture curiosity and collaboration among young children and empower parents to be invested in their children’s development.

“We are thrilled and honored to be awarded this grant and look forward to the opportunity to expand our program with this significant investment,” said Kelly Lambrinatos, Co-Founder and Executive Director of VOCEL. “For nonprofit organizations like VOCEL, our growth is completely dependent on access to capital beyond the early start-up stage. Through this grant, we also have access to New Coast’s advisory board of professional services consultants, who will help us think innovatively about how we serve youth in Chicago.”

New Coast plans to announce its second grantee in summer 2018.

About New Coast Foundation
New Coast Foundation is a social impact fund publicly launched in 2018 to accelerate the impact of promising emerging organizations working to bring possibility to the communities and people of Chicago. Through its venture philanthropy program, it targets the emerging stage of organizational development to help mitigate a funding gap that exists within the competitive nature of philanthropic funding. Through its Investment Readiness approach, New Coast identifies emerging organizations that are already demonstrating success, and, with the infusion of an investment to accelerate impact, help multiply their efforts to grow and influence meaningful change for Chicago. For more information, visit

VOCEL ensures Chicago’s most vulnerable children have the early foundation they need to be successful in school and life. Founded to bring exemplary education opportunities to underserved communities in Chicago, VOCEL helps kids develop self-regulation, language, social skills and cognition. Our innovative take on early learning is rooted in language development, parent coaching and an open, intentional teaching style. Through inquiry and play, children develop essential communication competencies, executive functions and interpersonal skills, while caregivers gain the knowledge, tools and support they need to help their children thrive. For more information, visit

About Skender Foundation
Skender Foundation was launched as a 501(c)(3) public foundation in 2012 and has donated more than $2.3 million to over 200 deserving charitable organizations that support community education and wellness in the Chicagoland and San Francisco Bay Areas. Through an endowment fund grant program launched in 2018, Skender Foundation makes multi-year funding commitments to nonprofit community partners that support the Foundation’s mission, which is to provide access to resources and relationships that help people make good life decisions through greater education and wellness. For more information on Skender Foundation, visit

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