The Peer Skill Share program made an appearance at the 2016 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) National Conference. Pierce Family Foundation Executive Director Marianne Philbin and Program Director Heather Parish lead a breakout session titled "Supporting Capacity Building Through Crowdsourcing." Attended by approximately 40 foundation staff members from across the country, the session explained the genesis of Peer Skill Share, its success, and how this model can work in other communities. Attendees also took part in a rapid-fire, live Peer Skill Share. "It was terrific to hear questions and ideas from organizations interested in what Peer Skill Share could look like in their own communities, and the new ways it could enhance myriad capacity building efforts," said Philbin. Peer Skill Share began at Pierce Family Foundation in 2010 and became a program of Forefront in Chicago in 2016.
Offering her expertise as part of the breakout session was Ellen Ray, Executive Director of foundation grantee Center for Changing Lives (CCL). Ellen has participated in Peer Skill Share multiple times - both receiving advice, and imparting expertise to others. She was so inspired by the experience that she created Resource Up! at CCL. Resource Up! is a network comprised of CCL clients, volunteers, donors and neighbors developed to exchange skills, strengths, experiences, relationships and resources to build a community of mutual support. Much like Peer Skill Share, Resource Up! participants submit their "requests" or "offers" and are matched by CCL staff. "Resource Up! is something that generates both excitement and captures attention," Ray said. "people want to be involved."
Appropriately, the session on Peer Skill Share at the GEO conference fell into the content track entitled, "Supporting Nonprofit Resilience." These sessions focused on how grant makers can help build the kind of capacity that allows grantees to focus on long-term mission fulfillment, build critical skills, and adapt and thrive. The Pierce Family Foundation was honored to be part of this conversation.