One of my goals in starting Upper Edge Consulting was to bring in money to Western New York from outside the area. We are a small insular community, and in order to grow, we need dollars from outside the area — tourism dollars, expats and young families moving in, new companies setting up shop bringing jobs and economic development — and philanthropy from large national organizations that do not normally give in Buffalo.
The latter is within our wheelhouse, and we have been working toward this end for some time now. It is a long, slow process, but we found success with cultivating the interest of the ECMC Foundation (no, not the Erie County Medical Center). The ECMC Foundation is based in Los Angeles and has a mission “to inspire and facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes — especially among underserved populations — through evidenced-based information.”
It started with a search, then a phone call, then many more phone calls and discussions with their staff before we were invited to submit first an LOI and then a full proposal. I truly appreciated how involved their staff was in asking deep, probing questions about the program, reading evidence that was supplied about why Northland’s approach would be effective and helping us to craft a message that would answer all the questions their board may ask of the application. It was an arduous process that ended with a $400,000 commitment that will span two years.
It is our hope that this award will help us reach other national funders and allow us to show them why the Northland program is so successful as we ask for other support from across the country that will bring economic development through job training to Western New York.