TEP helps bolster local nonprofit businesses by supporting Social Venture Partners (SVP), an organization that trains charities to make a greater impact in the community and improve their operations.

The Tucson branch is part of a global network that helps strengthen nonprofit groups’ efforts through mentoring, education and connections to donors and local business partners. Over two years, TEP provided $20,000 to the organization for operational support and another $15,000 to sponsor its Fast Pitch program.

Earlier this month, the Fast Pitch Program allowed representatives from 10 organizations to present three-minute “fast pitch” stories virtually to compete for contributions for their groups. This year, SVP picked finalists whose organizations:

  • support clients affected by COVID-19;
  • serve historically marginalized or under-resourced communities; and
  • work to promote social justice.

TEP sponsored the Power to the People Award, given to the agency that collected the most text-message votes from viewers. The $15,000 award went to Second Chance Tucson, a coalition that helps formerly incarcerated individuals with reentry into the job market.

“The Fast Pitch audience was truly inspired into action by this year’s heartfelt pitches. The TEP Power to the People Award is an example of TEP’s dedication to supporting local nonprofits and engaging our community members in making a difference,” said Ciara Garcia, Chief Executive Officer.

Our support for SVP strengthens local nonprofit organizations’ community service, business development and job creation capabilities. Pima County’s nearly 4,000 nonprofit organizations are major economic drivers. They provided 56,493 jobs and more than $2.1 billion in wages and salaries in 2016, according to the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits.

In addition to the Fast Pitch sponsorship, TEP’s support helps fund SVP’s services for nonprofit organizations, such as leadership training and advising, to improve their business strategies.

“Nonprofits are businesses. But we don’t give them resources and we don’t invest in them like other businesses,” said Ciara Garcia. For example, nonprofit groups often don’t have access to the same professional development opportunities or marketing strategies that other employers do. “We help them address these challenges by bringing those skills to them.”

Local business representatives, including volunteers from TEP, often serve as mentors, judges, speakers and board members. Stephen Garcia, a TEP Trainee System Supervisor and no relation to Ciara Garcia, serves on SVP’s board and previously helped on the Fast Pitch selection committee. “I think SVP is on the forefront of making changes in our community,” he said.

Ryan Matchett, a TEP Human Resources Lead Compensation and Benefit Analyst, has volunteered with SVP for nearly five years. This year, he  served on the selection panel for Fast Pitch finalists. Previously, he helped a client from the agency now called We Care Tucson prepare for the Fast Pitch contest. He tapped his experience with Toastmasters to help her get ready for her presentation.

“We’re really trying to make a broad stroke impact. We take an organization that does well and help them reach that next level,” Matchett said.The idea is that they will use the skills after their cycle has ended. It’s kind of a teach-an-organization-how-to-fish approach, instead of providing the fish.”

Ciara Garcia said the group’s method has worked: A 2017 impact report found that SVP’s participants saw a 260 percent increase in the number of clients, as well as an 83 percent increase in their budgets.

“TEP has been one of our biggest and most consistent supporters, with us every step of the way,” Ciara Garcia said. “This relationship is one of the reasons we’re successful.”

In addition to supporting SVP’s awards, TEP also sponsors the Social Impact awards at the annual Tucson Metro Chamber’s Copper Cactus Awards as a way to honor local nonprofit businesses.

Other Fast Pitch finalists this year were: Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, Boys to Men Tucson, JobPath, Make Way for Books, Native Music Coalition, Sunnyside Foundation, TMM Family Services, Therapeutic Riding of Tucson and YWCA Southern Arizona.

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