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From Surviving to Thriving: Mid-City CAN Crisis Response Spark Team

Updated: Apr 8

Michael Dowlan (Lead), Brenda Beckett, Brad Kleban and Josh Maher


Mid-City CAN turned to SVP at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic through our Crisis Response Spark Team program. MCC’s initial concern was navigating staffing considerations in the face of the pandemic. The engagement quickly pivoted to communication support as they reworked their outreach and advocacy programs and operations for a virtual world. Yet SVP’s strategic engagement at a pivotal moment was perhaps the most critical for MCC.


Executive Director Diana Ross testified “in a time of uncertainty and global upheaval, the support from SVP felt like we were granted a cosmic lifeline that would help us navigate this time with clarity and allow us to catch our breath. From the beginning, Michael was masterful in facilitating discussions that would lead to us pinpointing exactly where the greatest sources of need were.”


MCC sought assistance with financial scenario planning and guidance on shifting regulations around staffing. SVP advised the organization in accessing the PPP funds that bridged them until their donation revenue increased. They helped MCC explore multiple staffing scenarios with implications for furloughs, layoffs and redeployment of staff members to other positions. Ultimately the organization was able to avoid major staffing changes.

MCC was faced with adapting its communication, advocacy and mobilization strategies in a suddenly virtual world, which was counter to their established community outreach approach. The SVP team worked closely with MCC in their transition to working online and identifying new external audiences that were engaged by the organization’s frontline position in combating the pandemic. SVP also helped them narrow and define their priorities in preparation for engaging an external public relations firm. They also connected them with a pro bono market research firm and helped MCC identify corporate donor prospects.


Ross described the team as “patient, flexible, and 100% invested in identifying opportunities amidst the challenges – which were everchanging.” She credits the collaboration with SVP for helping them reposition to not only survive the pandemic but stand stronger than ever.