12 Steps Funders Can Take

Studies show that programmatic efforts that integrate a strong, specific focus on transforming gender norms and improving gender equity are more effective. Philanthropic institutions may struggle with the best concrete steps to take to achieve this. It can help to leverage existing grantmaking effort that engages gender norms, even if it’s not necessary called that. Similarly, it can help to point out to grantees how their current programmatic efforts already address gender norms or gender equity, whether or not they think of it as such. The overall goal is increase the comfort level of staff and grantees to create a Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









A Road Made by Walking: Participatory Evaluation and Social Change

This article describes how participatory evaluation was used in a Ford Foundation–funded project to promote mixed-income housing in Atlanta. The project resulted in an increase in mixed income housing, but also in social outcomes such as increased knowledge about housing issues. Validity and reliability of the findings are demonstrated through feedback from the community members, rather than through statistical methods.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek

This article tells the story of a placed-based initiative to develop well-being and wealth in the historically underserved Diamond Neighborhood in San Diego, and discusses the place-based philosophy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the foundation’s motivation for place-based work. Its theory of change is presented through examples, along with the entry points the foundation chose for engagement and how it developed community capacity to engage effectively in this change work. The article also discusses plans to transition ownership to the Diamond Neighborhood community when the foundation sunsets in 2030.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Advanced Mini-Intensive in Grantmaking

This course includes an in-depth analysis of evaluation models; proposal assessments; funder-grantee relationships and models, especially as they apply to particular funding areas and values-based grantmaking; changes in the philanthropy law and environment; and participant-presented case studies. Course content is updated based upon recommendations of the larger philanthropy field and past participants. The course is coordinated by Richard Marker, an internationally known thought leader in the grantmaking and philanthropy field. He is joined in class by several highly respected and prominent philanthropy experts. CEU: 4

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , In-Person Workshop, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , General Grants 









An Ecological Understanding of Evaluation Use

This report seeks to be helpful not only to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations, but more broadly to the fields of evaluation, aging, physical activity and public health in understanding what evaluation use looks like in context and how it can be facilitated. This case study illustrates the parameters of use (e.g., for whom? when? how?), as well as what constituted the use of the evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program Active for Life®: Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Building the Capacity of California’s Safety Net: Lessons From the Strengthening Community Dental Practices Demonstration

Community dental practices provide “safety net” services to populations who would otherwise have limited access to care. The financial crisis of recent years has made it increasingly difficult for safetynet dental practices to serve people most in need while still balancing their books. The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and the California Pipeline Program (CPP) funded a demonstration project to test the effectiveness of practice-management consulting as a strategy for helping California’s community clinics survive and thrive. This model emphasizes customized technical assistance to enhance the business infrastructure behind the delivery of care. The evaluation of this demonstration revealed that most Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Case for Change Capital in the Arts

Explore a series of written and video materials on the need for capital in the arts. This series conveys stories and lessons learned from NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future Initiative, the first national Initiative to deploy a specific kind of investment – change capital – to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances to thrive in a changed and changing economic and cultural landscape. Ten artistically excellent performing arts nonprofits are working with NFF over five years to develop and implement plans for achieving this transformation. Nearly three years into this exciting Initiative, we now have Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

Foundations have begun to recognize that how they go about their work is as important as what they support. To be better armed to address the urgent challenges facing Detroit’s children, the Skillman Foundation has adopted a changemaking role that draws upon and leverages its knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments. Effective changemaking depends on the accrual of trust and respect that is built over time in relationships with community residents and stakeholders, public and private partners, and others with influence and resources. Changemaking required the foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across Read more

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Catagories: Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Children’s Futures: Lessons From a Second-Generation Community Change Initiative

This article describes Children’s Futures, a 10-year initiative in Trenton, N.J., that seeks to improve the health and well-being of children from 0 to 3 years old and ensure that they are ready for school. During the first five years, the initiative was successful in implementing a number of evidence-based practices to improve children’s health, such as providing home visits to pregnant women, measuring and improving the quality of day care centers, and improving the use of information systems to track childhood immunizations. Efforts to provide services for fathers and improve home-based child care were not successful; these are areas Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Community Building for Children’s Health: Lessons From Community Partnerships for Healthy Children

This article describes Community Partnerships for Healthy Children (CPHC), a 10-year, $17 million initiative of the Sierra Health Foundation targeted at improving children’s health in northern California by mobilizing communities to use their assets. Implementation grants were modest ($50,000 annually), but technical assistance and communications support were also provided. The initiative rolled out in four phases. Overall, a total of 31 communities participated in the initiative. Twenty-six communities remained through phase three, with 18 engaging in the final fourth phase. Evidence indicates that CPHC improved the health of some children in some communities with regard to some outcomes, but did Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Community-Based Collaboration: A Philanthropic Model for Positive Social Change

A highly publicized incident served as a catalyst for the Austin, Texas, community, convened by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, to address gaps in the behavioral health system. The foundation worked with the local behavioral health authority, the mayor’s office, police and sheriff’s departments, and the city health department to design the Austin Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force. The task force was succeeded by a monitoring committee that identified six focus areas in which to develop action plans and monitor community progress. This collaborative process aimed to strengthen public commitment to behavioral health services and create a cross-agency planning Read more

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Catagories: Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Confronting Systemic Inequity in Education: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy

This report answers the questions: – How can philanthropy be more effective at deploying its limited resources to help reform and improve our school systems? – How can philanthropy help break the cycle of persistent inequality in access and opportunities among underserved students in our communities? Offers concrete strategies based on two recommendations from Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: The deliberate focus on addressing the needs of students from marginalized communities that will, in turn, benefit all students; and the support of efforts to find long-term solutions to the education equity crisis in the U.S through advocacy, organizing and Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Corporate Giving Gets Smarter: ConAgra Foods Foundation Fights Childhood Hunger

This article discusses how a better “map” can develop strategic focus and alignment, increasing the potential for results. Program development and evaluation are best done hand in hand. In complex systems, co-construction has huge yield. It promotes accuracy, comprehensiveness, and utility. Grantmakers can provide more than funding; they can identify and use new tools, processes, and resources with multiple stakeholders for effectiveness. Alignment and integration are powerful principles inside and outside organizations as well as across sectors in pursuit of social change.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Creating and Scaling Innovative School Models Through Strategic Partnerships

The Texas High School Project (THSP) was created in 2003 as a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state. This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the THSP alliance to create early college high schools (ECHS). The model has been scaled at different levels to produce direct, affordable pathways for students to both attend college and attain skilled careers. The ECHS schools have higher test scores, greater credits earned, and reduced dropouts rates compared to traditional schools. Foundations with a track record for supporting successful work can increase the overall commitment to joint projects and Read more

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Catagories: Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders

This report argues that more money needs to go towards grassroots organizing and advocacy for the environment and climate change movements to regain momentum and win important legislative and regulatory battles. Environment and climate funders can become effective resources of a strong and successful movement for change by decreasing their reliance on national advocacy groups and increasing funding for grassroots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Designing an Evaluation of a New Initiative: A Practical Approach to Ensure Evaluation Use

This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative. The initiative was launched in 2007 to reduce tobacco use among American Indians, who disproportionately suffer the negative health effects of tobacco use. The work of the initiative and the evaluation had to incorporate an understanding of tribal structure as well as of the traditional use of tobacco in American Indian sacred ceremonies. The theory of change was conceptualized as circular, rather than linear, in keeping with American Indian philosophical traditions. The planning process, utilizing evaluators familiar with community mobilization and policy evaluation Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Developing Foundation-University-Grantee Collaboratives as a Model for High-Impact Philanthropy

This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans. Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Disaster Giving

When disaster strikes, philanthropy plays a crucial role. Grantmakers give generously to meet immediate emergency needs, and they contribute thoughtfully toward long-range relief efforts. Minnesota philanthropists — organizations and individual donors — have a strong tradition of supporting those in need in the wake of natural and manmade disasters. Here you’ll find: Disaster Responses that MCF Has Monitored Before Disaster Strikes: Readiness Resources for Grantmakers and Individual Donors

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Donor Profile: The Hilton Foundation Sees a Need — and Finds a Partner

According to Steven Rothstein, president of the Perkins School for the Blind, if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a “big village” to raise a child with disabilities. It also takes a donor with a special kind of focus, patience, and willingness to learn.

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Catagories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Profile: The Lynch Foundation and Teach For America: How Philanthropy Can Help Ideas Become Reality

Peter and Carolyn Lynch take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy, and Teach For America is just one example of how they’re returning outsized impact for their investment dollars.

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Catagories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Profile: The Sandlers and ProPublica: Muckraker for the 21st Century

What is the best way to tackle corruption? With ProPublica, the Sandler Foundation has revived a time-tested tactic that is proving as effective as ever.

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Catagories: Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Profile: Brian Olson Lays New Groundwork for Charter Schools

Too often, it’s not the academics that bring down a charter school; it’s the building. Together with Civic Builders, hedge fund manager Brian Olson is offering leases to charter schools—under one condition.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Carrie Avery and the Durfee Foundation – Honoring Family Values, while Forging New Paths

With an innovative sabbatical program for nonprofit leaders, Carrie Avery is translating her grandfather’s values into the third generation of family involvement with Durfee.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Profile: Connie Duckworth Weaves a Way for Afghan Women

What are your plans for retirement? In Afghanistan, Connie Duckworth is putting her Wall Street ambition and savvy to the test.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Profile: Jeff Walker and NPower: Building on Existing Success

Philanthropist Jeff Walker began with a desire to help nonprofits struggling with technology, discovered that a nonprofit with a similar mission already existed, and built it into a thriving national network.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving

Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic work—including founding or co-founding with her husband, Pierre, the Omidyar Network, Hope Lab, and Humanity United—demonstrates how she has translated her passions into social change. Includes: International philanthropy, Microfinance, Medical philanthropy.

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









Donor Profile: The Buffetts Find “The Sound”

What would you do with one billion dollars? Jennifer and Peter Buffett were faced with this extraordinary challenge and opportunity.

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Catagories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Donor Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from Greater Philadelphia

Across the United States, donors are working on multiple aspects of the fight to prevent childhood obesity. While this guide features approaches implemented nationwide, we have focused on examples of their implementation in Philadelphia, as a city that may serve as a national model due to its decreases in childhood obesity amongst some of the most affected populations (African-American, Hispanic, and low-income youth). The guide identifies three strategies for donors who seek change: start early; increase access to healthy foods and physical activity; and enable healthy choices.    

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources









Enrolling the Eligible: Lessons for Funders

Many social programs have a gap between the number of individuals eligible for services and the number enrolled. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implemented Covering Kids & Families to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Grantees sought to increase enrollment by raising awareness among low-income families, simplifying the application process, and coordinating among programs. Funders are encouraged to consider the lifecycle of programs and organizations, the skills in coalition-building and working with public officials that are needed, and the need to fit political strategies with the local culture.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









Evaluating a Voter Outreach Initiative

This article describes an initiative designed to increase voting rates among low-income and ethnic groups in southern and central California communities. A rigorous evaluation demonstrated that participation rates could be increased by up to 10% among these groups. Using local, well-trained canvassers and making contact during the four weeks preceding the election were some of the more effective practices.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Finding the Fix: Embracing Philanthropy’s Role in Transforming an Urban Education Landscape

Education funders have historically used a “demonstration project” approach to funding, designed to lever change by demonstrating a new program and providing technical assistance to foster broader adoption. Despite demonstrating success with many of its grants, the Skillman Foundation’s education reform initiatives were derailed and undone by the instability of the district leadership, political landscape shifts, and disintegrating neighborhoods. A complete turnaround model must address the many issues facing a failing school, including culture, curriculum, school leadership, professional development, and classroom instruction. The stability of the central administration must also be considered. The new look at urban reform at scale Read more

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Catagories: Models & Approaches, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Foundations and the SDGs: the ‘conspicuous absentees’ speak out

The philanthropic community has been ‘conspicuously absent from the SDG debate’, according to Kevin Watkins of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, writing in the March 2015 issue of Alliance. However, as he suggests, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will take final shape later this year, are likely to have a significant influence on the environment in which foundations operate. We asked a number of people from different regions why foundations should take the SDGs seriously, and how their influence is likely to make itself felt on their work both domestically and internationally. Their response suggests that, even if they Read more

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Grantmaking, Print Publication, Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Haiti: How Can I Help? Models for Donors Seeking Long-Term Impact

A full length donor report for those seeking long term impact in Haiti, with a focus on health, livelihood, and education.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Helping Government Agencies Become More Effective and Efficient: Discovering ‘Catalytic Combinations’ in Public Child Welfare Reform

This article describes work of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Casey Strategic Consulting Group (CSCG), a 10-year, multistate initiative that embeds outside experts – both public-system and traditional management consulting – in child and family services systems to improve system performance and outcomes. The article describes five types of levers that were influenced in different combinations to promote change in different state systems. We call these “catalytic combinations.” In numerous states, including Maine, Louisiana, Virginia, and Indiana, the CSCG initiative produced measurable improvements in key performance areas, including shortening stays in foster care, improving rates of permanent placements for children Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









High Impact Holiday Giving

Around the world, the end of the year marks a time of reflection, celebration, and giving. In the United States alone, roughly 25% of philanthropic giving will happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Whether a donor has $10 or $10,000 to contribute, high-impact giving means using that money to do the most good. Our year-end giving guidance highlights seven high-impact opportunities for giving, based on evidence of results and cost-effectiveness. We’ve also provided resources that donors can use to ensure that they are achieving their greatest impact year-round. 

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking









High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn: Focus on Housing, Health, and Hunger (A Guide for Donors)

Given the breadth and severity of the current economic downturn, where can individual donors make a significant difference in addressing the suffering caused by the economic crisis? This guide was written for individuals seeking to turn their philanthropic capital into a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking









High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality: Focus on High-Need Secondary Students

For donors seeking to improve student outcomes, the critical question is: How can my funds improve teaching quality? This report outlines high impact philanthropic models based on our analysis of available evidence from academic research, expert advice, and practitioner information.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Ideas 42 Report: Nudging for Student Success

Breaking Barriers to Postsecondary Education:  Ideas 42 issued a report in June 2016, sponsored in part by The Kresge Foundation, that presented 16 case studies based on behavioral science that shows how subtle, sometimes hidden barriers can, over time, result in a student not completing a postsecondary degree.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources









Improving Child Survival Rates: Guidance for Donors

Every year almost seven million children die before they reach their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes such as pneumonia and diarrhea.1 The good news is that we have many proven effective tools to prevent and to treat disease and community-level approaches that are relatively low-cost within easy reach of a donor to support. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of child deaths can be prevented with the interventions available and feasible today.2       Footnotes 1 Unicef. Levels and Trends in Child Mortality report 2012. http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_2012_child_mortality_for_web_0904.pdf 2 Jones G et al. “How many child deaths can we prevent this Read more

Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources









Inheriting a Grant Portfolio: A case on grant making in water management

Put yourself in the shoes of a grant maker who takes over a longstanding program, only to learn that it needs to be slimmed down and made more effective. This case surveys the landscape, then lets you decide what to do. Highlights: Reviewing what has gone before; Identifying a new focus and direction; Making your first decisions.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking









International Programming, Local Development, and Youth: An Experience in Northeast Brazil

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded a 10-year program of local development work in selected geographic areas in Northeast Brazil from 1997 – 2007. This article reports on program achievements and difficulties, and examines the ways in which the practices of the foundation facilitated and obstructed advances in the local development initiatives. Two main strategies were used: direct funding granted to organizations in the targeted regions and the creation of a comprehensive support system (e.g., youth projects funds, capacity-building in leadership and evaluation, and transfer of expertise from organizations). A team of foundation staff and consultants worked closely to create Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Invest in a Strong Start for Children: A Toolkit for Donors

In the past thirty seconds, three more children were born in the United States. All three of these infants may be equally capable, but as they grow older, there is a strong chance that only two will graduate from high school. And it’s not just about high school graduation. The lack of strong support in early childhood means that millions of children in the U.S. face lives of lost potential. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Donors can help all children get an equal chance at a strong start.  

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources









KIDS COUNT Data Center

KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state project of the Casey Foundation to track the status of children in the United States. At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children state by state. The Foundation also funds a national network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, county-by-county picture of the condition of children. By providing foundations, policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









Mini-Intensive for New Philanthropists and Grantmakers

Immerse yourself in a comprehensive learning experience, and fuel your passion for grantmaking and private philanthropy. Faculty members and guest speakers from across the philanthropic community help you to learn how to give wisely. Explore a variety of funding approaches through presentations, discussions, graded assignments, and problem-solving exercises for groups and individuals. If you are an independent philanthropist, a member of a philanthropic family, or a professional grantmaker with just a few years of experience in grantmaking, this intensive is designed for you.

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Grants Management, Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , General Grants , Financial Stewardship









Out in the South, Part Two: LGBTQ Community Assets in the U.S. South

This report is the second in a series of reports entitled Out in the South. This second report, Part Two: LGBTQ Community Assets in the U.S. South, identifies more than 750 LGBTQ community assets in the U.S. South and spotlights several funding strategies with potential for high impact. The report assesses the state of the LGBTQ movement in the U.S. South based on a comprehensive scan of the region’s LGBTQ community assets, a survey of more than 200 organizers and service providers working in the South, and in-depth interviews with 30 LGBTQ leaders.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Pathways to Student Success: A Guide to Translating Good Intentions into Meaningful Impact

Pathways to Student Success: A Guide to Translating Good Intentions into Meaningful Impact was written for individuals who seek to go beyond charity by actively searching for opportunities to produce as much good as possible with the dollars available. In the guide, the Center addresses the critical questions that must be answered to achieve the biggest bang for every philanthropic buck, including what is a meaningful change to target, what activities lead to that change for at-risk students, and how much does it cost to make that change.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking









Philanthropy in the Faith Community: Mobilizing Faith-Based Organizations for Substance Use Prevention

· The Assistance for Substance Abuse Prevention Center, established by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, has worked with community partners in the faith community to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. · Reviving the Human Spirit (RTHS) was a collaborative project that provided resources to help congregations provide substance use prevention and recovery support in their communities, including the adoption of evidence-based practices. · Slightly more than two thirds of the congregations that participated in follow up interviews reported that their programs were still operating. · Faith-based programs have many things in common with programs operated by other Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Programming on a Blank Slate: A Case on grantmaking in rural poverty

Imagine starting a new grantmaking program from scratch — no prior grantees, no established procedures, no set objectives. One grant maker’s experience in starting a rural program illustrates some of the questions you’d need to answer. Highlights: Taking up a new job in a new field; Identifying key issues to address; Narrowing the field & making your first decisions.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Ready to Learn: Family Philanthropy Supports Early Learning and Literacy

Highlights some of the latest research on early childhood development and education, and profiles several family foundations and communities working for change in this area. It discusses quality child care and learning, and offers tips for getting involved in funding and resources to learn more.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations. The premise underlying Local Funding Partnerships has remained constant over its 25 years—by collaborating with local funders instead of acting alone, RWJF could improve the health and health care of Americans, while getting a larger return on its investment.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking









School Turnaround Field Guide

This report offers a field assessment of actors, issues, key gaps and early lessons learned in turning around our failing schools. The full report and an executive summary are available, as well as a brief developed for the School Improvement conference held in January 2010.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Small Investments, Big Changes: A 10 Year Review of the Casey Fellows Mini-Grants Program

In 1998, The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched a small grants program for alumni of the Children and Family Fellowship program. These mini-grants were designed to support fellowship alumni in their ongoing leadership efforts. This review highlights some of the mini-grant funded efforts and details some of the returns on the Foundation’s investments.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









The Challenges of Place, Capacity, and Systems Change: The Story of Yes we can!

Yes we can!, a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to improve educational and economic outcomes within the foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. Since 2002, Yes we can! has supported five core strategies designed to trigger the systems changes needed to reduce educational and economic inequities in Battle Creek. Yes we can! has achieved some important wins to date; for example, more residents are involved, more neighborhoods have stronger neighborhood associations, and more organizations are engaging residents in their decision-making processes. However, the scale of wins remains small, and the targeted systemic Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, General Grants 









The Colorado Trust’s Healthy Communities Initiative: Results and Lessons for Comprehensive Community Initiatives

This article summarizes how 29 diverse communities throughout Colorado implemented the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), which was conceived and funded by The Colorado Trust to engage community residents in the development of locally relevant strategies to improve community health. In line with the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities model, CHCI emphasized (a) inclusive, representative planning; (b) a broad definition of “health”; (c) consensus decision making; and (d) capacity building among local stakeholder groups. Communities implemented an array of projects (on average, six per community) that extended well beyond traditional health promotion and disease prevention. The most common action projects Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, General Grants 









The Potential of Partnerships for Health Advocacy and Policy Change: The Legacy of the Partnership for the Public’s Health Initiative

This article reports on a study of 11 partnerships between public health departments and community organizations that were funded by The California Endowment to support advocacy and organizing to improve health outcomes in the communities. The evaluation examined the sustainability of the partnerships as well as the policy and advocacy work of the organizations. Almost 90 percent of the activities in policy change and community capacity building was sustained, whereas partnership and health department capacity building activities were the least likely to be sustained. The policy change legacies at the community level were strong and included empowerment of community members, Read more

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Catagories: Laws and Legal Issues, Models & Approaches, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Issue Specific Grantmaking









The Pros and Cons of Comprehensive Community Initiatives at the City Level: The Case of the Urban Health Initiative

This article describes the trade-offs between the city-level and neighborhood-based approaches in examining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Urban Health Initiative (UHI), an $80 million, 10-year effort to improve the health and safety of young people. Eight cities engaged in a two-year planning process; five received funding for an eight-year implementation phase. Plans that engaged in bottom-up activities, but left power and control in the hands of civic, business, social service, and political leaders, were favored. Those who had focused exclusively on neighborhood-based approaches were not funded for implementation. RWJF chose a city-level focus because they believed neighborhood-level initiatives Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, General Grants 









The Quest for Deeper Learning and Engagement in Advanced High School Courses

GLEF and a research team from the University of Washington worked with Washington’s Bellevue School District to develop and assess the impact of project-based learning on upper-level courses in high school. Research suggests that Advanced Placement (AP) courses may focus too much on accelerated content at the expense of deeper conceptual learning. The number of students taking AP courses has grown, but along with this the number failing has increased. GLEF and the research team tested project-based learning (PBL) to counteract this trend. Results after two years are promising. Students in the PBL-AP courses are performing as well or better Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation









The Role of the Congregation in Community Service: A Philanthropic Case Study

The Family Leadership Initiative (FLI), part of the larger Gatherings of Hope Initiative, was a collaboratively designed program to strengthen families and improve children’s education in Grand Rapids, Mich. FLI was launched in 2011 with two cohorts of 20 congregations who took part in a six-step design process. Programs were implemented in fall 2011. The program entailed holding monthly meetings for parents and children that included bonding time, parent education and homework support for students, and time for ministry. The initial evaluation shows high levels of satisfaction, with students reporting some academic improvements. For the congregations, FLI provided a rare Read more

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011

According to The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011 giving around policy and community engagement to address pressing social problems dipped to 12 percent, compared to the 15 percent average in 2008-2010.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy: Grantmaking for Racial Equity and LGBTQ Justice

Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy: Grantmaking for Racial Equity and LGBTQ Justice continues our efforts to advance work at the intersection of racial equity and LGBTQ justice. In it you will find the stories of 5 foundations who are working on these critical issues.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking









Two Decades in Investment in Substance-Use Prevention and Treatment

The Retrospective assesses RWJF’s investment, what was achieved through its efforts, and the strengths and challenges of the Foundation’s approach. RWJF contributed toward progress on the substance-use problem through meaningful impact in five major areas: Increased knowledge about the substance-use problem; Influenced alcohol and drug policies; Informed and spreading promising prevention programs; Improved systems of care for substance-use disorders; and Built field infrastructure to strengthen substance-use research, policy, and practice. RWJF had an unprecedented investment in the field, contributing to change over time. Observations of how RWJF developed its overarching and program-specific strategies, conducted ongoing evaluation and learning, and exited Read more

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Issue Specific Grantmaking









Ukraine: foundations, the crisis and the future

Since the explosion of popular protest in Maidan Square, Ukraine has been riven by civil and political strife whose character and shape is often as difficult to discern as its eventual outcome. In this supercharged atmosphere of political protest and martial posturing, what have foundations been doing to help those caught up in events or struggling to reshape their country?

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Catagories: Grants Management, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Webinar Recap – Grantmaking for Equity

This webinar explores strategy and tensions in grantmaking for equity.

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Catagories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









What can philanthropy do for Syria?

The war in Syria is now in its fourth year. It has cost over 200,000 lives, put 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country (USAID) and displaced 10 million, more than 3 million of whom have fled abroad as refugees. All of this has earned Syria a number of unappealing superlatives: ‘the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era’ (UNHCR); the creator of the ‘worst refugee crisis since the second world war’ (The Economist); and the world’s ‘worst crisis for children’ (UN). With a few notable exceptions, however, western philanthropists have not engaged in Syria.

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking