Every single day the Community Wealth Partners staff is inspired by the courage of our clients. Our team strives to help nonprofit and foundation leaders make decisions that are logical, strategic and based in data, but building solutions to solve social problems is not an exact science. Consequently, the most successful social sector leaders are able to take confident steps forward within a forest of ambiguity. And that takes courage.
Earlier this month I explored the courage of Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association (CVNPA). Today, I want to share the story of the Center for Families and Children, a large provider of quality family services throughout the Cleveland area with a budget of about $34M.
Like CVNPA, the Center participated in our Cleveland Community Wealth Collaborative (our Community Wealth Collaboratives are focused on helping organizations launch or grow social enterprises). During the Collaborative, the Center explored the feasibility of a venture that we referred to at the time as Life Care Partners. Its focus was serving as a supportive partner to parents caring for special needs children by providing life planning and management services.
Ultimately, it was discovered that this venture would require the Center to not only create new services but also enter new markets. The board saw the risk as too great, and in the end, the organization decided not to pursue the opportunity.
I recently met with Sharon, the Center’s CEO, and Jim, the Center’s Chief Program Officer, both of whom were instrumental in the exploration of Life Care Partners. They could barely contain themselves in telling me that they launched a pharmacy out of their headquarters aimed at serving their existing clientele, whom they discovered often don’t take their medication due to barriers in accessing existing pharmacies.
After nearly two years in operation, the majority of their clientele who take regular medications are using their onsite pharmacy, and most importantly, getting the medication they need, allowing them to live a better life. At the same time, the venture was profitable after six months and had $5 million in revenue after 18 months. They now are looking to launch their second pharmacy at one of the other locations in the city.
Interestingly, when you talk to Sharon and Jim now about the Life Care Partners experience, they talk about all they learned from that experience and how it contributed to their more recent success with the pharmacy.
This story is a good reminder of how failures and learnings allow us to build the resilience and courage needed to propel our organizations forward.