PE Community Helps Launch City Year London

Long before I knew the difference between a general partner and a limited partner, I was a Boston corps member with City Year. It’s a nonprofit organization that served as the model for Americorps, and now mostly focuses on reducing the dropout rates in urban schools (back in 1994-1995, I was primarily involved in physical services like demolishing an abandoned crack house).

In the years since, I’ve learned that private equity is an integral part of the City Year equation. Longtime board members include PE pros like Josh Bekenstein (Bain Capital) and Steve Woodsum (Summit Partners), and nearly 100 PE pros showed up last November for a City Year breakfast headlined by David Gergen.

The latest example came this morning, when the UK-based Private Equity Foundation and TowerBrook Capital Partners announced that they are committing £1.42 million to help City Year launch a London corps.

Sophie Livingstone, CEO of City Year London, says that the money will help 60 corps members begin work this fall. The 18-to-25 year-olds will be stationed in the primary schools of three boroughs that have been identified as poverty-stricken by the Mayor of London.

“If it wasn’t for the Private Equity Foundation and TowerBrook, we wouldn’t be setting up the corps,” Livingstone says. She adds that a government program also is helping to defray some costs, although not by as much as Americorps helps in City Year’s 19 U.S. sites (it also has an outpost in South Africa).

Big kudos to PEF and Towerbrook, and my hope that others follow their lead…