As part of MLA’s strategic goal on education, we’re expanding MLA’s education programs. A new learning management system will launch by January 1, with plans for a significantly expanded curriculum to be developed over the next few years.
This growth will require seed funding investment to cover course development expenses until the courses begin generating revenue. The Shaping our Future Fund was established by the Board in 1989 to fund new MLA revenue generating value to members and the profession. Expanded e-learning courses certainly fall under this umbrella. As of the end of 2015, the fund contained about $58,000. However, as it is currently structured, only about $2,400 per year, or 5%, can be used to support new ventures, not nearly enough for what we're aiming to achieve.
At the May 2016 board meeting, the board voted to convert these funds to an “impact investing” model. Pioneered by groups like the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, impact investing magnifies the power of philanthropic dollars by providing an opportunity to earn repayment of principal plus a financial return. Converting the Shaping our Future Fund to an impact investing model will allow the funding of multiple courses at once, and provide the mechanism for the Fund to replenish. Impact investing generates both a social and financial return. Thus, funds can be recycled, and used to seed multiple initiatives over time.
(Percentages are for illustration only.)
The Shaping Our Future fund will keep the same mission it has always had—funding new MLA revenue-generating value to members. But with the new investment guidelines, its funds will be able to make a more significant difference. Revenues from new courses will be split among the author (revenue share), the MLA CE program (contribution to overall costs), and the Shaping our Future Fund (repay principal and interest), with respective amounts yet to be defined.
This new model will roll out starting next year in order to have in place funding to cover development costs for new eLearning courses to coincide with the launch of the learning management system. Using these already existing funds will speed the development and roll out of courses, giving members and other prospective students more learning opportunities that focus on their needs.