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Council Member Reflections: Bob Manning

By Seth Lindsey
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Bob Manning, Founder and Managing Director, M2P Capital LLC

Metro Regional Council member since 2012

During Bob Manning’s tenure as an El Pomar Trustee from 2011-2014, Bob worked alongside fellow Trustee Bill Ward to establish our Metro Regional Council, and he continues to serve as a council member in the region today.  Bob shared one of his primary concerns during the early stages of the Council was maintaining an intentional and targeted scope. With the Metro region being one of the most saturated areas for philanthropic efforts, Bob hoped the Council would be able to find the “gaps that weren’t being filled” to ensure its impact would be substantial.

Bob explained that in determining a potential focus area, education was a shared priority for all Council members. Though early education and high school were of interest, research from El Pomar Fellows and information shared during expert convenings revealed that these may be over-crowded areas in terms of philanthropic investments. However, it appeared middle school was a mostly untouched arena from the funder landscape. Bob emphasized the speed of Council consensus once the proposition of focusing on middle school development was offered.

An early grant partner within the Council’s focus area—and still a current grant partner—was Escuela de Guadalupe (Escuela), a dual-language Catholic school serving children grades Pre-K through 8. Through meetings and site visits, Bob expressed the organization’s leadership, clear mission, and transparent record-keeping were indicators for him and the rest of the Council that Escuela was an excellent organization to partner with for a multi-year opportunity. These indicators later became the criteria to consider future grant partners and funding opportunities.

Another key strategy for the Metro Council was identifying “tipping point” organizations. Bob explained the “tipping point” model identifies an organization that, with the right amount of strategic support, can make a “quantum leap to the next level” of its work and positive impact on the community. For example, Escuela was in the midst of expanding its reach from 6th to 8th graders when it began its partnership with the Metro Regional Council. Support from the Council enhanced Escuela’s capacity to support significantly more students. Bob believes the financial element is minimal when evaluating “tipping point” organizations. “It’s about locating those that can leverage a partnership with a funder to build their confidence and credibility while launching into a new period of sustainability and growth.”

Bob hopes the Metro Regional Council continues its sharp focus and maintains its discipline as it can be easy to get distracted when researching the “best” focus area that encompasses everything the Council wants to accomplish. He spoke of the benefits in their larger, urban region of staying committed to specific partnerships and making unprecedented impact in one or two places rather than diluting it in many.

Bob’s advice for new council members is to “get to know your Fellows, support them and encourage them, and rely on them because they make the biggest difference.”

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