Living in Safe Alternatives (LISA, Inc.) has announced a merger with the Connecticut-based nonprofit, Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) as of the start of the new year. The merge is the result of LISA, Inc.’s strategic plan that began almost two years ago with a goal of finding an organization with a similar background to grow with.
CSI is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-reliance, responsibility and accountability for at-risk and disadvantaged youth and adults. CSI specializes in reintegrating offenders into the community by offering community-based services and programs that are incorporated into an overall continuum of services and risk management strategies. The organization is based in Connecticut but has programs in 11 states and in Canada.
LISA, Inc. provides care and skill-enhancing programs for Connecticut’s most vulnerable youth ages 14 to 23, offering independent living home for girls with no available family, supervised apartments for teens leaving state care and moving into adulthood, and a life skills academy to equip youth who reside with foster care families with meaningful life skills and leadership ability.
LISA, Inc. will exist within CSI as a division, but both parties were clear that the merger is not a “take-over.”
“We didn’t approach this as an acquisition or a take-over,” said CSI chief executive officer Fernando Muñiz. “It’s really a merge for our organizations, with different skills, coming together to increase our impact by amplifying those strengths.”
LISA, Inc. executive director Kim Selvaggi said one of the driving factors towards selecting CSI as a partner was the fact that the two organizations are mission-similar.
“We were looking for an organization who really lived its mission, and we see that in the outcomes that CSI has achieved and the types of services they offer throughout the country,” said Selvaggi. “The other thing is financial stability. This partnership will help us diversify our portfolio of supporters whether its federal, state or local grants, and that’s one of the things LISA, Inc. has struggled with.”
Muñiz said he and Selvaggi have a similar world view in pursuing similar work.
“In Connecticut, CSI was only doing adult programming, so the opportunity to partner with a youth -serving organization provides us the opportunity to expand continuum of services, which is better for the people we serve,” said Muñiz. “[LISA, Inc.’s] culture, their connections to their community, all of this made them an attractive partner for a merger.”
Nonprofits in Connecticut have seen a recent trend. Many have become stagnant, or even see a decline in funding. LISA, Inc. had ambitious goals, but needed a partner in order to achieve those goals.
“Many nonprofits are experiencing zero growth in state contracts and smaller contributions from private individuals,” said Muñiz, “so the idea of finding partners that make our organization stronger was attractive to us.”
Selvaggi said it was important to point out that the merger is not a result of failure.
“When you talk with another partner about a merger, there’s an assumption that we’ve been acquired because something horrible has taken place,” she said. “In reality, it’s just the opposite. We have dreams bigger than our budget can support. By bringing in a strong partner, we can pursue those dreams. Instead of looking at it like a loss, this is a tremendous gain.”
Right now, CSI has much to do on the ground-level to administratively come together, but Selvaggi assured there would be no disruption to clients. One hundred percent of staff remain on board—no layoffs took place during the merge.
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