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Changes at Next Generation

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about change, how challenging it can be, and how necessary it is for growth and development. That evolution is apparent in our work at Next Generation. As evidence mounts about the rapid effects of human-driven climate change and the need to invest in early learning and address family-friendly workplace policies and other core issues in order to support the next generation, it is clear that we as a country need to make major changes to alter the current paths we are on.

This is why we are making changes at Next Generation.

Some background.

At its first convening four years ago, Next Generation’s Board made a commitment to review the organization’s progress at the five-year mark in order to measure impact and to make adjustments to program areas or operations as necessary. We have been engaged in that review process for the past few months and have reached two major conclusions:

  • Without question, we are having an impact. Next Generation set out to change the conversation in America about energy and climate and to provide support for America’s children and families – and we did it. You are now more likely to read and hear about the impact of climate change as a business issue, rather than just an environmental one. More than ever before, people recognize the importance of closing the word gap in early childhood and what we need to do to address it. And, thanks to the partnerships and hard work of our team, millions of parents in California have greater workplace protections to allow them to balance work and family, and our public school buildings are being upgraded and retrofitted to be more energy efficient;
  • But we believe we can have even more impact if we change our operating style – and spin off our major projects and programs while continuing our work as a non-profit project incubator.

Why these changes? Two reasons – first, we concluded that the work of our two program areas can thrive best if they are located in organizations that are solely focused on their core issues; and secondly, my co-founders Tom and Jim Steyer are in very different places than they were when we started Next Generation. Tom has become one of our country’s most important climate activists, while Jim has greatly increased his role in children’s advocacy at Common Sense Media. The Board felt that Next Generation’s programs and those they serve would be leveraged best by concentrating our work in organizations that are more singularly focused on either kids and families issues or climate change.

This transition for our climate and energy program will occur on April 8th. The Risky Business Project, our climate risk assessment research and communications project chaired by Hank Paulson, Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg, will become a completely independent entity focused primarily on communicating the importance of climate risk assessment and risk mitigation. Risky Business will move to New York to be situated closer to our core investment and business audience, and will be led by Raji Jagadeesan. Our California Energy and Climate work will be absorbed by NextGen Climate America, a non-profit headed by Dan Lashof that works closely with co-founder Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate America.

The transition for our children and family program will occur later this year, and will remain fully operational at Next Generation until that time. The highly successful Too Small to Fail initiative, a project of Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation, will remain a joint partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Next Generation’s work on the initiative, however, will transition to a new non-profit called The Opportunity Institute, which will be led by our very own Ann O’Leary and Christopher Edley, Jr., Professor of Law and former dean of the UC Berkeley Law School. They will soon share more about this exciting new venture and will be opening the doors later this year. Our Children and Families’ California policy work will be carried forward both by The Opportunity Institute and by Jim Steyer and Common Sense Media.

So what’s next for Next Generation? It will continue to serve as an incubator for new non-profit ideas and projects, including a new information service to drive better public understanding of kids’ issues in America.

With Ann O’Leary and Kate Gordon’s departures, I would like to acknowledge their exceptional contributions. Both have been tremendous leaders, motivators, mentors, and terrific colleagues. I am very proud of what we have achieved together and know that they will continue to do outstanding work in the future.

Change can be challenging, but we at Next Generation know it is vitally important in order to be effective, efficient and strategic as we move forward toward success on these critical issues.

I will continue to update you on the work of Next Generation through this space and as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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