When InnerCity Weightlifting (ICW) joined the 2012 Social Innovator cohort, the organization had an exciting concept and a visionary leader in Founder and Executive Director Jon Feinman. With the support of a few funders and a budget of around $250,000, the organization served 83 students per year working out of YMCAs and other local gyms.
SIF helped us to think strategically, communicate our story, and measure success for our students.
ICW had already seen the impact of its program as its students spent less time on the streets and more time in the gym working toward positive goals. What the organization needed was help sharing its message with a wider audience and establishing its reputation as an organization that was worthy of investment.
InnerCity Weightlifting worked with its SIF consultant to shape its plan for growth and to develop materials that would help share its work with potential investors – including an audience of over 300 people at the 2012 Social Innovator Showcase.
The SIF team also helped the organization build its fundraising capacity through hands-on support around event management, relationship building and other development best practices.
“SIF helped us to think strategically, communicate our story, and measure success for our students," said Jon Feinman, ICW Founder and Executive Director, InnerCity Weightlifting. "Then SIF introduced us to a network that made our growth possible.”
Being part of the SIF portfolio gave InnerCity Weightlifting access to a broad network of potential supporters as well as the credibility needed to attract the attention of traditional funders. Within six months of completing the SIF engagement, InnerCity Weightlifting had nearly doubled its budget to $500,000 and opened its first gym in Dorchester. The gym not only serves as a place to train, it is also a place where ICW students come to find hope and opportunity.Jon Feinman has remained an active member of the SIF community, taking advantage of opportunities to showcase his organization’s work at SIF events, grow his network and build connections. SIF remains a “go-to” resource and partner. In 2014, when ICW wanted to expand further, a SIF referral helped the organization secure a $400,000 commitment to support a second location in Kendall Square.
Today, InnerCity Weightlifting has a budget of $1 million, serves more than 250 students each year and has attracted a roster of 350 individual and corporate personal training clients whose sessions support the work of student trainers. With a 78% reduction in arrests for violent crimes after joining the program and 90% rate of reporting increased hope for the future, InnerCity Weightlifting student trainers are increasingly saying “no” to violence and “yes” to opportunity.
Check out the video of ICW's students and staff created by ReebokONE: