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In the world of community-driven initiatives, partnerships often serve as the catalysts for meaningful change. Such is the case with the collaboration between Barry Barresi, CEO of Association Ventures and SVP Denver Partner and Meghan Klassen, Executive Director of Anchor Center for Blind Children—a partnership founded on shared values and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of children with visual impairments and their families.

A Perfect Match

Barry, a former optometrist, helped provide pro-bono consulting services as an SVP Partner for Anchor Center—a nonprofit dedicated to providing comprehensive services to visually impaired children. Barry’s initial introduction to Anchor Center through SVP Denver sparked an “aha moment.” 

“When I learned about what they were doing, it was an aha moment. Dave from SVP Denver called me and said he thought it was a great fit. He was familiar with my background as an optometrist.” – Barry

Anchor Center’s Unique Role

As the only center in the Mountain States region providing comprehensive services and robust wrap-around supports for families, Barry grew to appreciate how Anchor Center has come to be a beacon of hope and a source of expertise for families in the Denver metro area and beyond.  

“From the first day I walked the halls and saw the children with significant disabilities, witnessing how their full potential is being supported by the amazing team, it was emotional.” – Barry 

Anchor Center’s Impact on Families

Meghan knows just how difficult and scary it is for any parent to receive a disability diagnosis. Anchor Center welcomes them, provides a safe place to learn and share with other families on a similar journey, and equips them with the tools and hope for their children to live a full, independent life. 

“At our annual gala this year, one of our parent speakers said that when they came to Anchor Center it was the first time their daughter was treated like a child with a personality and a soul.  It was the first time she was seen as a child, not a patient.” – Meghan

Moving Beyond Philanthropy

Driven by a shared passion for social entrepreneurship, Barry and his team embarked on a consulting journey with Anchor Center, aiming to diversify revenue streams while maintaining the organization’s social mission. Over the course of six months, they collaborated to develop strategies to increase revenue and impact, all while avoiding creating dependency on philanthropy. For Barry, the most meaningful aspect of this collaboration was serving as a catalyst for empowerment. 

“I always find it meaningful to be a catalyst in bringing together existing teams, coaching and empowering them to come up with new ideas and strategies.” – Barry

SVP Denver Advice as Timely

Meghan shared how she’s so grateful for the genuine care and interest shown by SVP Denver.  She appreciated how Barry and his team were really able to communicate to their Board of Directors that their current financial model is not sustainable, and how they needed to do something to change it, so that they can exist indefinitely to serve these kids and families.

“We are already working on several angles to change our financial model, including hiring a billing specialist to pursue more public funding for our work. We are also working with a lobbyist to try to secure funding from the Department of Early Childhood to cover the costs of our early intervention program.”  – Meghan

SVP Denver as a Unique Bridge Builder

SVP Denver plays a unique role in Denver by connecting elements of the community in Denver in order to achieve higher levels of social impact. Meghan shared this sentiment:

“It can be difficult to find people with a sharp business acumen in the nonprofit world. I just appreciated having a different and professional, experienced lens on our model and work to make recommendations to the Board for our long-term sustainability.”  – Meghan

Through this collaboration, both Barry and Meghan brought something special to the table. Barry brought his expertise in social entrepreneurship, while Meghan provided a deeper understanding of the needs of visually impaired children and their families. As a result, their work to develop strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of Anchor Center’s mission will have ripple effects for years to come.