Investment Profile

Heads Up

Investment Highlights

Heads Up: A University Neighborhood Initiative provided children and youth from low-income neighborhoods with the academic skills and learning opportunities they need to succeed, and provided college students the opportunity to understand and help meet those needs in order to promote their development as leaders motivated to effect social change.


2001 – 2007 | $2,074,000


Heads Up and VPP shared a high expectation that Heads Up would achieve its aspirations to become a leading and influential provider of out-of-school programs for children and teenagers in the District of Columbia, and to become the premier youth-related community service program for local universities and undergraduates.


Heads Up made progress to better serve its students and tutors, even as it navigated a leadership transition with the resignation of its founding executive director. It also overcame a revenue shortfall when it did not receive funds from a public agency for which it did considerable work to become eligible.

Noteworthy accomplishments that contributed to improved capacity and increased effectiveness include:

Planning and Focus: Completed business planning in 2002, resulting in a well-defined expansion plan for scaling their tutoring program to serve more children in the District. Planning facilitated by McKinsey & Co.

Human Capital—Board Management: Successfully completed a leadership change. Met goals to strengthen senior management, integrating a COO/CFO. A good board was significantly improved and expanded, completing the transition from founder-centric to a governing board.

New Revenue: Significantly fortified future revenue by securing a continuing, public source of per-student funding for nearly 300 students—a third of students served. Increased awareness of Heads Up among high-net-worth donors in the Region, after winning 2005 CharityWorks funding. More than quadrupled its annual support from AmeriCorps by winning a national competitive grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Performance Reporting: Defined and implemented outcomes assessment and performance management system, and now in process of refining based on experience gained.

Innovative Partnership: Forged a unique partnership with three well-respected companies—Scholastic, Inc., Michaels Stores, and Binney & Smith—to produce “Read and Create Craft Packs” that opened up an opportunity for a new source of revenue, but more importantly, built awareness of its efforts.

Since the completion of the VPP investment, Heads Up merged with the Center for Youth and Family Investment, which is no longer operational.