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The Lab is a co-working space in downtown Oakland designed to support visionary changemakers, artists activists, and social justice revolutionaries with the space to make their work easier and to keep them from being priced out of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to office space, members of the The Lab have access to a host of meeting spaces, outdoor patios, and technology offerings like videoconferencing. The space also features vibrant artwork by artists from member organization Culturestrike, including some of the groundbreaking social justice artwork of Favianna Rodriguez, our newest board member.


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Shared Spaces is a 9,200 square foot center in Mankato, Minnesota, owned and managed by the Mankato Area Foundation. The center hosts 7 nonprofits with about 35 staff plus interns: United Way, Mankato Area Foundation, YWCA, Diversity Council, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and Miracle League of North Mankato. The center itself is primarily administrative; direct services are not offered at the center itself.


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Joanne Posner-Mayer
Joanne Posner-Mayer

I first heard of Joanne Posner-Mayer when I was a consultant working with a fledgling shared space in Denver focused on international development in 2013.  The project was in trouble.  They had secured a lease for a building through the Denver Housing Authority, but it was a historic structure and the group needed to raise the funds for renovations and start-up costs. There was a gap between the projected costs and the actual costs and it wasn’t clear how the project could move forward.  I remember thinking, another one bites the dust.

But I was wrong.  The project succeeded because of Ms. Posner-Mayer and it is now one of the best examples of mission-driven shared space.  Posner-Mayer is a Denver physical-therapist-turned-entrepreneur who invented the FitBall™, which is now ubiquitous in gyms and therapy rooms.  She had deep roots with the Curtis Park neighborhood where the international development shared space center was being developed.  Her father, a Polish immigrant, had a successful hardware store in that neighborhood.  Ms. Posner-Mayer felt she could give back to the neighborhood that enabled her to achieve so much.  I remember being so surprised at how it all came together – her contribution was truly pivotal to the center, the difference between life and death.  Now in Denver we are lucky to have the Posner Center for International Development, named in honor of her family.

If that wasn’t tribute enough, a recent blog by the Rose Community Foundation reported that Ms. Posner-Mayer has been instrumental in another shared space project, the Rose Andom Center.  The Andom Center is a one-stop shop for survivors of domestic violence and houses over 20 agencies in a central location.  Previously, those affected by domestic violence had to travel to up to a dozen different locations to access services.  Taking a client-centered approach will help stop the cycle of violence by improving rates of reporting abuse.  Ms. Posner-Mayer contributed to the Rose Andom Center and is helping it establish an endowment so it can be financially sustainable for a long time to come.

I’m anxious to learn of other philanthropists who have embraced the shared service model as much as Ms. Posner-Mayer.  In working with her at an NCN training event in 2015, we discussed the notion of mission-driven shared space centers as a kin to a mutual fund investment vehicle – invest in one shared space center and you’ve touched all the organizations who locate there.  It’s a great way to address a pressing community issue in a holistic way.  I’ve not heard of many who have invested in multiple centers, but I’d love to see it catch on.

At this time of year, it’s inspiring to think about the many ways our generosity can make a huge difference in people’s lives.  The Posner Center addresses global poverty and creates opportunity for men, women and children around the world.  The Andom Center is helping local Denver families find safety and peace.  I can’t imagine a better example of what we all hope for in this holiday season.

 

 


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Leena Waite
14/Nov/2016

In the wake of the election, no matter who you voted for or if you were watching from the North, the results have shown the true polarities of opinions, emotions, classes, and struggles that American’s face. There was a large sum of individual voices mainstream media did not even pick up on in the polls. Whatever you believe or hoped, I am recognizing the need to acknowledge these unheard voices.


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In September of 2014, the House of Neighborly Service submitted a grant request to the Boettcher Foundation for $150,000 to go toward the building of the HNS Life Center. The center was to house multiple nonprofits who would collectively provide what HNS Grant Specialist Sarah Morales calls “one-stop-shopping” for those in need, including school readiness services for children, a food pantry, and other services.


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Ninety percent of maintaining good health is determined by factors other than direct health care. The Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living will create a synergistic model of service delivery, by aligning a major hospital with like-minded non-profit organizations that share in the vision of making the vulnerable community healthier.


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In Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General recently invested new funds into their system of legal clinics. In exchange, the government expects the clinics to seek out ways to reduce costs and reinvest those savings into their work. In response, the Specialty Legal Clinics Modernization Initiative was formed to co-locate nine unique programs serving needs ranging from legal support for people living with AIDS, people with disabilities, to accident victims to tenants, landlords and youth.


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Mike Gilbert
12/Sep/2016

Do Your Due Diligence: Four Things To Do Before Committing To a Vacant Building

This post is the first in a series by Mike Gilbert of The Jones Trust that will focus on how to repurpose existing and vacant buildings in a cost effective way. It is very important not to cut corners in the due diligence process before you commit to renovating a property – you might end up with some unfortunate and costly surprises.  

Many buildings throughout North America are unoccupied, in a state of disrepair and/or abandoned. These buildings present amazing opportunities to preserve history or unique architecture, and it can be more cost effective to renovate than to build new.  However, older buildings are typically constructed using asbestos containing materials in varying components.  Many of these facilities were built under older building codes with less stringent requirements for life, safety and accessibility.

Repurposing older buildings can deliver outstanding project economics and return on investment if we do the hard work on the front end. Before you commit to a vacant building, make sure to do your due diligence. Identifying and fully understanding the potential risks of building renovation is a monumental task for the skilled developer and even more challenging for an individual, organization or group that does not do so on a regular basis. It is critical to be conservative at this stage of the project, investigating all possible risks that can become known prior to commitment to proceed.

As you plan your project, here are some tips to keep yourself from purchasing a money pit.

  1. Assemble a team of experts. Numerous skills are required to put together a full understanding of the challenges involved in building renovation. You, as the lead developer, are like the head coach, matching your player’s skills with roles on the project. If you don’t have the skills already on your staff, you may need to hire paid consultants Some of the roles you will need filled include:
  • Environmental Safety Assessment (ESA)
  • Building Envelope Assessment
  • ADA Assessment
  • Mechanical and Electrical Systems Evaluation
  1. Conduct an ESA. This process will identify any important hazards that must be addressed during the renovation process. Environmental remediation can be extremely expensive, can destroy project economics and potentially kill a deal in progress. Typical ESA costs are between $3,000 and $7,500 for the initial work, although costs can vary significantly based on factors including size, age, location and more. This step cannot be avoided.
  2. Bring on an architect to do Building Envelope and ADA Assessments. The Building Envelope Assessment will give you a fair assessment of the weather tightness condition of the building including roof, windows, exterior skin, expansion and control joints, etc. The ADA assessment will help in the design process for compliance and can sometimes be expensive if new ramps are needed or if elevator upgrades are required. Cost of this investigation should run between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the scope.
  3. Evaluate the mechanical and electrical systems. This process determines the suitability of the existing systems to accommodate the desired improvements. This evaluation is normally completed by a mechanical and electrical engineering firm. The investigation should cost between $2,000 and $6,000.

The due diligence phase of project evaluation is a very detailed process and can range in cost from as little as 1% of your project budget up to 3%, depending on the scope of work and level of detail desired.

Analysis of the various reports will allow you to fully develop a preliminary renovation budget that will feed into the pro forma budget for the project. Our next post will dive into strategies to consider in developing a preliminary project budget and feasibility study.


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In 1978, with a dream of establishing a permanent home in New York for the nonviolence movement, the A. J. Muste Memorial Institute purchased a three-story loft building in downtown Manhattan, affectionately known as the "Peace Pentagon". By providing affordable office and meeting space to mission-related tenants, and using income from several commercial storefronts to offset expenses, the Institute has provided a way for activist groups to stay in a convenient location while freeing up vital resources for their social justice work.


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