Cities, counties, public schools, and other public sector agencies across California have faced a difficult fiscal climate as a result of the 2008 Great Recession. While the economy is turning around, costs have risen faster than expenses leading to a structural budget crisis. Like most public agencies, San Jose has shrunk its workforce dramatically, reducing or eliminating important community services. These challenges have limited the ability of public sector agencies to innovate and implement new ideas needed to restore and improve public services.
Following a presentation from the Civic Consulting Alliance at the February 2011 meeting of the Project on Municipal Innovation, Chief of Staff Pete Furman and Mayor Chuck Reed discussed the prospect of bringing a pro-bono program to San Jose. The City had already received many offers from the private sector to provide assistance on a temporary, no-charge basis, however the infrastructure to support these offers was not in place. In April 2012, the Mayor’s Office formed a partnership with the Fuse Corps Executive Fellowship, and allocated budget to secure a Fuse Corps Fellow.
Jeremy M. Goldberg was selected to serve as the Executive Fellow in the Mayor’s Office and serve as the point person on the development of this entity. Within a few months, a basic strategy for the effort was established, a team of executive leaders from the City of San Jose came together from the City Managers Office, Economic Development, IT, and Parks and Neighborhoods Services shared ideas, identified critical questions concerning the legal, policy context, and possible project opportunities to test.
On June 12, 2012 the San Jose City Council unanimously approved Mayor Reed’s June Budget Message for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, to create Silicon Valley Talent Partnership and directing city staff to identify projects for private sector talent to assist the City of San Jose. The City responded and identified an initial group of 5 projects to test to Talent Partnership model.
Over the next year until June 2013, the SVTP Comprehensive Strategic Business Plan was created through a pro-bono partnership with the Harvard Business School Community Partners of Northern California. This effort was enhanced through the formation of the SVTP Senior Advisory Council, consisting of executives from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Knight Foundation; representatives from Adobe, eBay, Cisco, IBM, McKinsey & Company, PwC, and Stryker; City of San Jose leadership from the City Managers Office, Office of Economic Development, Department of IT, Parks Recreation and Neighborhood Services; and also extended to the Mayor of Santa Clara.
The business plan process validated that SVTP should be an independent organization and thus, SVTP registered as a corporation with the State of California, filed for 501c3 status with the IRS through a pro-bono partnership with the legal aid organization Public Counsel.
Simultaneously, SVTP established a fiscal sponsorship agreement with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation who would serve as the umbrella organization for receiving tax-deductible contributions. In fact, SVTP secured seed funding from the Knight Foundation and Silicon Valley companies that are a part of the Senior Advisory Council and the organizations founding Fiduciary Board of Directors.
On April 1, 2014, the organization hired its first Executive Director, Lea King, who is now finalizing the next series of projects that will engage pro-bono talent.