Staying Connected: How Five Foundations Understand Those They Seek to Help

FavoriteStaying Connected: How Five Foundations Understand Those They Seek to Help profiles five foundations ranked among the top 15 percent of foundations that commissioned a Grantee Perception Report (GPR) between 2016 and 2017 when it comes to how their grantees rated them on questions related to their understanding of intended beneficiaries’ needs. The work of these five foundations seeks to help beneficiaries in a range of focus areas — from students to children and adults in need of affordable health care.

Forging Ahead: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Foundation Investing Activities

FavoriteCan the money that is at the heart of the foundation business model be responsive to a foundation’s important values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)? The answer is yes. This report includes interviews with executives at eight large foundations that have embraced organization-wide DEI efforts. We asked them how DEI can shape the structure of the investing department, the work of investment committees and the choice of investments.

Fostering Change and Fresh Voices: Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Engagement Journey

FavoriteKey Points Since 2011, Vancouver Foundation has invested significant time, energy, ideas, and money in bringing together immigrant and refugee youth and young people with lived experience of the foster care system in British Columbia. Through its Fostering Change and Fresh Voices initiatives, the foundation has listened and worked in partnership with these young people to address the issues that affect their lives, and important progress has been made in the forms of meaningful policy changes and improved political engagement. The foundation is now in the process of returning these initiatives to the communities that inspired them. This article describes Read more

An End to Business as Usual: Nurturing Authentic Partnerships to Create Lasting Community Change

FavoriteKey Points The David and Lucile Packard Foundation created Starting Smart and Strong, a 10-year place-based initiative in three California communities, to develop and test solutions that support parents, caregivers, and educators as they prepare young children to be healthy and ready for school. The initiative brings together public and private partners to create comprehensive early-learning systems and ultimately scale what works. This article offers key insights into the foundation’s experience, three years into implementation, with managing this complex initiative and how program officers were compelled to think differently about the best roles staff can play to support grantee communities Read more

A Partnered Approach to School Change in a Rural Community: Reflections and Recommendations

FavoriteKey Points With so many education policies and practices made at the local level, community-based foundations are in a unique position to support their local school districts in taking a comprehensive, systematic approach to improving the lives of young people. This article describes a research–practice partnership designed to produce school improvement in a rural community in western Virginia and reflects on a three-year collaboration among The Alleghany Foundation, two school districts, and the University of Virginia. The partners identified challenges and strengths within the school districts and the community; gathered and analyzed existing district data and new findings from interviews Read more

Equity for All: Building the Infrastructure for Change Through Community-First Funder Collaboratives

FavoriteKey Points Foundations increasingly recognize that improving conditions in many communities requires addressing inequities in access to rights and resources. Yet there are challenges to effective investment in underresourced regions, especially when foundations have limited familiarity with the region and may assume limited local capacity to leverage philanthropic investments. This article discusses how Sierra Health Foundation partnered with other California and national foundations to establish the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund, a collaborative whose grants focus on strengthening the capacity of communities and organizations in the Valley to advance policy and systems changes that promote health and racial equity. This Read more

Thriving Communities: A Model for Community-Engaged Grantmaking

FavoriteKey Points Interact for Health is a health conversion foundation serving the three-state region of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio. Its current community change initiative, Thriving Communities, is a community-learning model that helps embed health promotion and advocacy work in communities while those communities build an equitable infrastructure with stakeholders to more rapidly spread evidence-based practices. This article explores the three tools developed for the Thriving Communities initiative: Success Markers, the Developmental Pathway, and Relationship Mapping. Interact for Health has found that these tools build core competencies and confidence among grantees as well as a process for community engagement that produces results Read more

Creating Habits for Inclusive Change

FavoriteKey Points The act of transforming community outcomes requires diverse stakeholders across an array of settings to become actors of change. While this movement to action lies at the heart of effective community change, it also remains one of the most challenging aspects of collective work. Drawing from the ABLe Change Framework systems-change model, this article presents four processes used in numerous communities across the United States to effectively engage diverse stakeholders in taking actions to improve local systems. These processes prioritize the voices of the most disadvantaged within communities and engage them as key actors in the change process. Read more

A New Tool for New Times? Using Geographic Information Systems in Foundations and Other Nonprofit Organizations

FavoriteKey Points The literature on nonprofit organizations exhorts them to understand and develop their communities’ strengths and capacities. Yet, identifying those communities, appreciating the conditions that affect them, and integrating organizational stakeholders can pose difficulties for any nonprofit, including foundations. This article examines how a tool relatively new to nonprofits — geographic information systems — can be used to support community building by bringing together different stakeholders. A geographic information system is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data, thus allowing an organization to map its community and share that visualization with its stakeholders. Read more

By Us and For Us: A Story of Early Childhood Development Systems Change and Results in a Rural Context

FavoriteKey Points Since 2007, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund — a donor-advised fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation — has invested in early childhood development in Coös County — New Hampshire’s largest and most rural and economically disadvantaged county. Community providers from a range of disciplines formed strong professional relationships and agreed on common goals and evidence-based strategies to improve services for children and families. This article describes how local community members joined forces with the fund to create an integrated early childhood development system for Coös’ children and families. It provides background on the investment and initiative Read more

Community Navigation as a Field of Practice: Reframing Service Delivery to Meet the Needs of Communities’ Marginalized Populations

FavoriteKey Points Community navigators help individuals and families access local services and assistance through a combination of referrals and interpersonal support. The Denver Foundation launched the Basic Human Needs Navigator Learning Community in February 2014 to help navigators working with local organizations and community members practicing navigation independently improve their practice and identify similarities and differences in their approaches. This article discusses the multiyear, peer-learning project, including the general lessons the foundation learned about both navigation and the use of a learning-community approach to reach its field-building goals. Reports from participating organizations and community members over four years suggest the Read more