This report, produced by the Trust for America’s Health with support from several foundations including Kresge, calls for a new approach to health which prioritizes improving health and addressing major epidemics in the United States. The report highlights pressing crises and how investments could yield positive returns on investment by adopting proven health strategies, such as substance use prevention, programs to promote physical activity and connecting health and social services.
The authors describe the results of a demonstration project funded by the California HealthCare Foundation and the California Pipeline Program. They assessed the effectiveness of practice-management consulting in helping California’s safety-net dental practices survive and thrive. The evaluation showed that most clinics made measurable improvements. Their experiences point to several factors that create an environment for success. A second phase of the project is being implemented that builds on lessons learned from the demonstration.
This first assessment of the systems of supports and opportunities (SOSO) informs The Skillman Foundation and its partners about availability and quality of youth development opportunities and basic services supports in the six Good Neighborhoods.
Children’s Futures is a 10-year, Trenton, NJ initiative to improve the health and well-being of children zero to three years and ensure that they are ready for school. Begun in 2002 and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, initiative leaders planned to avoid past mistakes of CCIs by focusing initial efforts on a relatively narrow age range and using evidence-based practices to ease implementation. Like other CCIs, Children’s Futures convenes partners from various institutional sectors to provide services to Trenton’s families. Through technical assistance, it also works to improve local service capacities. This paper, written by the evaluator and Read more
This executive summary of the report that examined efforts to develop and implement climate-adaptation projects in 17 cities across the U.S. includes findings to key questions, conclusions, and tactical recommendations.
In 1993, Sierra Health Foundation set out to see if community building could make a difference in children’s health and well-being in Northern California. The overriding assumption was that community building is an effective approach for improving the health of young children. In CPHC community building meant mobilizing residents to use the community’s assets for the common good. This paper describes the process the sites undertook and the results that were achieved in the 31 communities that participated over the 10 years of the initiative.
Learn how CVH builds leadership development and collective power towards broader goals of government transparency and social justice. We explored case studies around three impact issues: welfare policy reform, public housing reform, and participatory budgeting. We also learned what it looks like to fund this work. Attendees learned how funding community engagement can fit into a broader social change grantmaking strategy.
On June 11, 2002, Sophia King, a 23-year-old African-American woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by an Anglo police officer in Austin, Texas. During the four days prior to the incident, King had exhibited erratic and disruptive behavior. Neighbors and apartment management filed several complaints with police about King’s behavior and noise from her apartment, but community-based prevention services failed to ameliorate the situation. At the time of her death, King’s behavior had escalated and she was threatening the housing manager of her complex with a knife. The incident triggered shock and anger in the Austin community and Read more
This article captures the work from the ConAgra Foods Foundation and grantee perspective. It describes emerging dynamics in corporate social responsibility that influence corporate giving and articulate relevant lessons for organizational performance. Ultimately, consumer awareness and community action across the country are key to progress on the issue of childhood hunger in America. Along the way, savvy corporate funders and their colleagues will get farther faster on complex social issues with the use of potent tools and processes.
This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the Texas High School Project, a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state and to maximize the resources of aligned organizations. Two examples show how foundations successfully engaged in the project, recruited other foundations, shared and increased expertise, maximized resources within the alliance, and increased impact to address a complex issue and solution. Also discussed are lessons learned about the foundations engaged with the alliance.
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.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
The Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative sought to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. Based on research by an intermediary, six selected school districts were invited to propose projects that were a fit for their own strategic plans; four were funded. Based on this experience, three key design elements were identified: 1) Confine the initiative to a content area or target population, 2) Pay attention to geography, and 3) Encourage boundary-spanning.
Disaster philanthropy is the term used when a foundation responds to a natural disaster, man-made emergency or complex humanitarian crisis with grantmaking or fund raising. Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leaders in the philanthropic community have become more aware of the importance of this approach to giving. What follows are the stories of three Minnesota organizations that’ve made the foray into disaster philanthropy. What have they learned from their experiences? And how can this approach help every foundation do a better job of delivering on its core mission?
Through Discovery, stakeholders across Connecticut have been encouraged to analyze, organize, reflect and act on behalf of young children. This process encourages us to learn, apply the lessons, and assess our effectiveness as we strive to support the success of all children. Sharing the stories of learning that take place across Discovery helps to build networks of people working and learning together across the state.
This article examines a range of civic engagement strategies pursued by four embedded funders conducting community-change work in chronically disadvantaged communities. Embedded funders are place-based foundations that (1) commit to working in a particular community or communities over an extended period of time; (2) pursue direct and ongoing relationships with a range of community actors; (3) make community relationships and partnerships a primary vehicle of their philanthropic operation; and (4) provide extensive supports and resources beyond conventional grant-making.
This article examines how The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implemented Covering Kids & Families to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. It provides lessons to funders such as, 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.
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.
A new approach to urban education reform requires that funders pool resources under a common agenda to successfully build the conditions to change the landscape for children. This article describes and analyzes this shift in thinking and the change in strategy of education reformers in the city of Detroit.
This resource includes three approaches that today’s foundations can learn from the Freedom Funders in our ongoing fight to protect civil rights: Grantmakers should intentionally prioritize underserved communities in developing and implementing strategy. They should involve those most affected by injustice, such as by funding organizations committed to grassroots organizing and advocacy. They should utilize tools such as equity analysis to examine structural barriers that keep certain communities from equal life opportunities. Anything less and foundations risk reinforcing the very inequities they claim to address.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
This report outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
This research paper by PolicyLink, with Kresge support, examines how housing and development policies affect economic opportunity and community health, reviews recent trends that have increased housing insecurity, surveys practices that link health and housing opportunity, and suggests a reform agenda for policy changes.
This article describes the work of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Casey Strategic Consulting Group in child and family services systems to improve system performance and outcomes. Called “catalytic combinations,” five types of levers were influenced in different combinations to promote change in several state systems. The initiative produced measurable improvements in key performance areas. The authors postulate that by influencing “levers of change” in combination, one can drive broad improvement in how overall systems operate. Influencing catalytic combinations creates sufficient startup results for improvement to continue over time.
This guide is designed to help donors make a bigger difference with their philanthropic gifts. CHIP’s analysts have handpicked 14 distinct opportunities that you can act on immediately. We’ve organized the nonprofit profiles in this guide into three social cause areas donors have always cared about: health, poverty, and education. We’ve also updated our Disaster Relief guide, highlighting how to help in the wake of multiple recent disasters.
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
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.
This article reports on a 10-year W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded program of local development work in selected geographic areas in Northeast Brazil. The greatest lesson was the fundamental importance of intentional strategies to bring all three sectors together, to attract and facilitate public and private sector involvement in civil society projects for local development and poverty reduction.
New evidence from neuroscience, social science, high-level policy efforts, and growing concern among business, military, and other civic leaders has generated vast amounts of information and potentially useful guidance. We developed this web-based “toolkit” to help funders cut through the noise. You’ll find key facts, strategies for investment, high impact opportunities, and partners that any funder interested in early childhood should know.
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
This article uses the collective-impact model as a framework to examine the role of community foundations in the creation and establishment of local college access networks across the state of Michigan. The findings illustrate that community foundations have played a variety of roles, from fundraising to convening to cheerleading. The challenge for most communities is how to develop a plan for sustainability while allowing others to provide leadership for these evolving organizations for social change.
Support for disaster risk reduction and preparedness can mitigate the impact of disasters, and many communities need sustained funding for the long road to recovery. We hope this analysis will aid donors in considering how to maximize the impact of their disaster-related giving.
This article describes the organizations New Voices efforts, initial outcomes and the mechanisms each used to negotiate the intersection between service delivery and social change. Moreover, results demonstrate that civic engagement in human services not only produces a means for promoting social change but also changes the way participants see themselves in the community.
This reflective practice article examines lessons learned from community-based substance abuse prevention efforts in the faith community and describes how those lessons will shape the work of the Assistance for Substance Abuse Prevention Center. The article also introduces the Faith-Based Prevention Toolkit developed to help members of faith community implement and sustain substance abuse prevention activities in their congregations. The authors hope that other foundations will incorporate the lessons into their work in the faith community.
The following framework: 1) advocates deepening democratic practices at the local and regional levels, 2) seeks to put forth the principles and practices defining this emergent field, and 3) outlines resources for community-based institutions implementing community-driven planning processes. While the primary audience for this framework are community-based organizations developing, advocating for, and implementing climate solutions, we hope it will also be useful to philanthropic institutions that are developing funding strategies to tackle the climate change crisis, as well as to public sector officials charged with protecting our cities from the unpredictability of climate disruption.
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.
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.
This GEO blog post shows how the development of the Healthy Communities Leadership Academy has allowed the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to see more authentic and effective collaboration as well as stronger connections and relationships.
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
A research team at McKinsey & Co. studied the potential of social impact bonds in the United States, in particular for financing the expansion of proven programs in homelessness and crime prevention. The team also created tools for stakeholders—investors, nonprofits, government agencies, and others—to help them determine whether SIBs are instruments they should consider.
‘From an Asian perspective, climate change is not a distant threat – it is happening today. I want to make sure that the way my capital is invested is part of the solution and not the problem.’ So says Annie Chen, founder of RS Group, a Hong Kong-based family office. Air pollution in Beijing, bushfires in Australia and typhoons in the Philippines underline her remarks. Consequently, RS Group incorporates climate change considerations in all its activities and across asset classes, with the dual goal of contributing to climate change mitigation and ensuring its investment portfolio is fit for the future.
This report looks at how 20 nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of underserved residents in the democratic process through policy engagement. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $114 return for every dollar spent.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
This series introduces young people to strategic, thoughtful philanthropy, and inspires them toward giving with impact. Families and adults who work with youth can use these guides to facilitate peer discussions and fun activities around giving.
The Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI) was a comprehensive community initiative designed and funded by The Colorado Trust as a means of empowering citizens to make their communities healthier. Based on the World Health Organization’s “Healthy Cities” framework, the CHCI program model was defined by several principles that related to focus and approach. The eight-year-long, multi-phased initiative prompted the formation of representative “stakeholder groups” in 29 different, diverse Colorado communities. This paper describes: the background and development of the initiative, including the general principles that underlay the CHCI model; the degree to which the planning process was carried out according Read more
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
This paper analyzes the impact of choosing a citywide focus over a neighborhood one, beginning with RWJF’s rationale for choosing to intervene at the city level. It examines how that focus influenced the planning process for the initiative in the UHI cities. The citywide focus shaped the roles assumed by the sites in implementing their plans, and the activities they undertook. The study demonstrates that the decision to intervene at the city level provided increased opportunity to build political power and create meaningful changes in public and private systems. However, it also impeded the kind of community building more typically Read more
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
The Lumina Foundation reports on a pilot test of a certification program for college access services. Funders considering supporting the development of certification of nonprofits should give careful attention to what organization should be the lead and to the scoring rubric. Including representatives of those who will apply for certification is critical.
In this article, an initial evaluation of the Family Leadership Initiative, part of the larger Gatherings of Hope Initiative, a collaboratively designed program to strengthen families and improve children’s education in Grand Rapids, Mich., shows high levels of satisfaction, with students reporting some academic improvements. For the congregations, FLI provided a rare opportunity to collaborate with each other.
Launched in July 2011 by a broad coalition of public and private partners led by the California Endowment, the $273 million California FreshWorks program provides loans and grants to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other food retailers that offer nutritious, affordable food options in communities where such options are scarce. In order to better understand the California FreshWorks program’s food access, social, and economic impact to date, the California Endowment commissioned the first-ever third-party evaluation of the program. The evaluation also sought to document key challenges and lessons from the development and implementation of FreshWorks.
In 2009, New Jersey After 3 established the state’s rst nonprot after-school system in Trenton, providing high-quality programs in every public K-12 school. This system expanded access for students and improved the quality of programs while reducing the cost. This article reects on establishing such a system, its results, and lessons learned.
This report reflects on 17 arts organizations’ experiences with $1 buildings. It shares their lessons about how best to assess, prepare for, and structure these opportunities in order to achieve positive outcomes for arts and cultural organizations, funders, and communities.
This article provides guidance on how foundations can frame, focus, and advance efforts to achieve public policy reforms. Five essential steps for developing public policy strategy are described: choosing the public policy goal, understanding the challenges, identifying influential audiences, determining how far those audiences must move, and deciding how to move them. Two tools developed specifically to support foundations during the strategy development process are presented.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) worked to reduce harm from alcohol and other drugs in the United States for over two decades—an investment of nearly $700 million. This retrospective analysis, part of the RWJF Retrospective Series, assesses RWJF’s investment, what was achieved through its efforts, and the strengths and challenges of the Foundation’s approach.
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?
This article examines one community’s effort to use a large-scale civic engagement process to improve the health, safety, and education of children. In doing so, it describes the challenges that foundations can face in trying to sustain a cross-sector collaborative process while working to produce highly visible outcomes in a relatively short period of time. The findings from this study illustrate important lessons for foundations that are funding and leading cross-sector collaborative efforts – lessons related to the importance of communication and transparency, the need for shared leadership, the limits to voluntary collaboration, and the need for a sustainable structure Read more
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.
Why should philanthropists fund the arts? Some have argued that as art is of lesser importance than basics like food, shelter, health and so forth, there is no justification for funding art until world hunger is solved. How then can one justify spending on so-called high arts? Can the arts be seen as effective tools to bring about personal and social change? Is art transformative? Our subject for this Alliance special feature is philanthropy’s attitudes to and role in funding ‘arts and social change’.