How can we scale a proven program or promising idea?

Thinking bigger

Taking a proven idea to scale requires more than just replicating what you’ve already done. Incremental funding, an adaptive business plan, and program design that responds to a growing infrastructure or geography are key. Fairmount understands big ideas and big thinkers and has deep experience transforming singular expertise into solutions for collective impact.

Five teachers in Philadelphia had an idea. Traditional professional development conferences for educators were presented in ways that ran counter to best practices in education. The group borrowed a concept from the tech sector and applied the principles of the “un-conference” to education. Edcamp – organic, self-directed discussion groups based on the interests of participants – began in Philadelphia and quickly caught fire around the country, so much so that the Gates Foundation invested millions of dollars over several years to expand Edcamp’s activities and impact. Fairmount was engaged to develop a strategic plan to scale the organization. The plan defined a revenue model, engaged board members, and mapped ways for Edcamp to build capacity and visibility to foster communities of educators learning from each other. Fairmount subsequently helped the board define its role and structure. Now, an idea that began as a novel approach in one city has grown to support organizers and educators in more than 1500 cities in 35 countries around the globe.

Fairmount developed a comprehensive plan for dramatically reducing and helping people recover from domestic violence in Philadelphia. The plan needed to link multiple systems: criminal justice, human services, behavioral healthcare, housing and homeless services in order to build a structure for preventing and responding to abuse. Understanding how all of the systems and components could work together towards a shared goal was a monumental task but critical to making substantive improvements to the system needed to provide protection and recovery. The outcome of Fairmount’s work in collaboration with Women Against Abuse is an initiative called Shared Safety, a groundbreaking approach that elevates domestic violence to a public health issue. The program received a prestigious $250,000 grant from the University of Pennsylvania’s Lipman Family Prize in recognition e of its national and international replication potential.

As a long-term client of Fairmount’s outsourced fundraising services, Philadelphia’s Urban Affairs Coalition benefits from our ability to stay closely attuned and responsive to emerging needs and opportunities, design innovative responses to philanthropy and public contracting opportunities that can scale model programs, leverage institutional funding expertise, and provide successful grant writing. Fairmount first helped UAC secure a highly collaborative $12 million stimulus grant for The Freedom Rings Partnership, which connected more than 50 organizations across the City of Philadelphia to bridge the digital divide for under-resourced residents and leveraged millions more in matching support. Annually, Fairmount works to help the Coalition identify and secure institutional grants and public sector contracts that align with its strategic and business plans; advance new programming and services to significantly expand its portfolio; scale up effective services, capacity building, and technical assistance to support early childhood education, economic advancement, and youth workforce development needs in the region; and enhance its innovative fiscal sponsorship business for grassroots programs and social impact entrepreneurs.