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March 17, 2016

Sometimes 3 minutes is all you need to demonstrate impact

By: Virginia Isble, development manager at Reading Partners Sacramento

During every tutoring session, we ask our students to tackle reading challenges — from comprehension to sight reading. At Reading Partners, we like to challenge ourselves, too, as we hone our professional skills.

On March 5, Reading Partners Sacramento Executive Director Rachel Minnick embraced a short, but impactful challenge: competing with nine fellow education nonprofit leaders at Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch event for the support of local philanthropists.

While the format of the competition was loosely modeled after the popular reality TV show Shark Tank, Fast Pitch was created to give nonprofit leaders coaching and strategies to craft a short, compelling message on their organization’s work in the Sacramento community. Each nonprofit was paired with two coaches to develop their skills in public speaking, messaging, and asking for support. “Fast Pitch provides a sandbox where nonprofits can work crafting key strategic elements of a successful pitch, which the nonprofit can use again-and-again in a variety of venues,” explains Downey Brand attorney Tyson Hubbard, one of Reading Partners’ Fast Pitch coaches.

RM at Fast Pitch

Serv[ing] as a Fast Pitch coach is immensely rewarding. It provides a hands-on opportunity to work directly with a local nonprofit organization and to help that nonprofit think strategically about its services, target market, and connection with the local community.”

With guidance from coaches Tyson and Ken Bossung of Velocity Venture Capital, Rachel perfected a three-minute pitch and presented to 250 philanthropists and community leaders to demonstrate how Reading Partners is changing lives for Sacramento’s struggling readers.

Fast Pitch was the perfect opportunity to get our message in front of new potential partners.

Rachel relates, “An important part of my pitch was showing Sacramento how dire the literacy crisis is for students. Three out of four low-income fourth graders aren’t reading on grade level. This saddens my heart to think that the door to opportunity has already closed on them at such a young age.”

Rachel and AlexandraRachel also highlighted how Reading Partners makes a tangible difference for kids in Sacramento, and the need to expand programs that work. With nearly 800 volunteers logging over 16,000 tutoring hours this year, communities are making a difference for their students. But in order to address the reading achievement gap in Sacramento, Reading Partners must continue to expand to new schools and new students every year. Next year alone, Reading Partners Sacramento has plans to reach more than 100 students in new communities.

“We can’t keep kids waiting. Today’s young readers are our future leaders!” Rachel exclaimed to the captivated audience.

After the event, Rachel said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in Fast Pitch because it provided me with insight from business leaders and philanthropists who view our work through a very different lens than we do. It really improved how I talk about our impact in a way that is truly a game-changer.”

Tyson relates, “Not only is Rachel passionate about her community and Reading Partners, but also about the reading success of each of the 450 (and hopefully soon to be 550) students that her organization serves here in Sacramento.”

It was a thrilling night for philanthropy in Sacramento! We are proud of Women’s Empowerment for winning the Judge’s Award and Improve Your Tomorrow for winning the Audience and Coaches Awards. And we are even more excited to work with our new reading partners.

  • Logo for Accelerate
  • Logo for Five Below
  • Logo for Hellman Foundation
  • Logo for Bezos Family Foundation
  • Logo for George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Logo for Panda Cares
  • Logo for The Duke Endowment
  • Logo for Deerbrook Charitable Trust

Thanks to our partners

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