I attended the Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP) Holiday party / birthday day celebration for Senator-elect Mark Warner last night at the beautiful home of Norma and Russ Ramsey.   What a great night … it was a house full of members of the VPP family … people who care deeply about making a difference in the greater, Washington DC community – particularly in helping improve the lives of children and youth from low-income families.

VPP is the brain-child of Mario Morino, the “Godfather of Philanthropy” in this region.  He co-founded VPP in 2000 with Raul Fernandez and Mark Warner.    They raised $30 million with their initial fund in ’00 with the help of many of the top business and philanthropic leaders in DC (the full story can be found at http://www.venturephilanthropypartners.org).

VPP helped fund 12 terrific non-profits in this region, including Asian American LEAD (I’m on their board of directors), See Forever Foundation, SEED Foundation, Latin American Youth Center, College Summit and other outstanding organizations.

With the leadership of Jack Davies, an outstanding person and close friend, VPP is in the midst of generating a second round of investments.  This goal this time is to raise $50 million.  Despite the downturn in economy, VPP is continuing to plug away and is well on its way to meeting its’ goal.   I’m involved as a donor (at the junior level).  And, I’m working on connecting the VPP family to the younger generation of up-and-coming business leaders in this region.   We got off to a good start last year and we’re looking to continue to expand our VPP family in the coming year.   If you’re interested in getting involved as a donor or investor, please let me know and I’ll put you in contact with our good friends at VPP (Carol Thompson Cole, Eleanor Rutland, Tim Wierzbicki, etc).

My two mentors in Philanthropy are Mario Morino and Ted Leonsis.   I’ve promised them I’ll take what they’ve taught me over the past decade and will pass it on to the next generation.   I was extremely fortunate to be part of Greater DC Cares’ “2008 Class of Change,” which honored the 10 rising leaders in philanthropy in DC.  So, the “Pay it Forward” program we’ve created is working.   As we raise the awareness of the importance of philanthropy, community service and mentoring, the more we will help improve the lives of the inner-city youth from low-income families.  Thank you for helping us making our dream come true.