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Advancing Foundation Archives: Advocacy, Strategies, and Solutions - Proceedings from the June 12, 2019 Meeting

October 12, 2022

Organized in collaboration with our partners the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, the Advancing Foundation Archives Conference held on June 12, 2019m at the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York City was the first convening in nearly three decades to address the importance of managing, preserving, and providing access to foundation records and archives.The meeting brought together archivists, grants managers, foundation leaders, information specialists, historians, legal experts, and many others to share ideas, practices, and resources. Most importantly, its goal was to build a community of archives advocates confronting a new and daunting challenge – how to collect, preserve, and provide access to the rising tide of born-digital records created by foundations.The information professionals and foundation staff who gathered in New York in June 2019 shared the belief that creating, preserving, and providing access to foundation records are critical activities, whether they are done to provide access only to staff or to external researchers as well.Though more than one hundred people attended the 2019 Advancing Foundation Archives Conference, the organizers realized that many more could benefit from a resource that captures key learnings. To present the meeting in text form, the editors of the new Proceedings publication have condensed one hundred pages of transcripts, fleshed out concepts where needed, and gathered additional resources  into the following sections:Perspectives of Foundation Stakeholders describes how stakeholders in foundations engage (or do not engage) with the archives. This includes board members and foundation executive leaders, but also staff across the foundation who often are the most prolific record creators. Motivating Issues and Events examines some of the scenarios that often give rise to the idea of building an archive – a major anniversary, a retiring board chair, a litigation threat – how attendees wrestled with those ideas, and where they turned for help. Records Management and Archives discusses information management, from documents, to email, to audio and video files, to data sets, and how information managers are building infrastructure to handle the tidal wave of digital files.Internal Access and Storytelling explores how describing and applying metadata to records can help staff more easily find and use the archives to inform their work.Public Access and Storytelling describes how foundations make their history accessible to the public, from exhibits, to published histories, to transitioning archives to an external repository.  

Creating More Inclusive Public Spaces: Structural racism, Confederate memorials, and building for the future

September 28, 2022

Across the United States over the past decade, there have been heated discussions about Confederate statues and memorials in public spaces. Some cities have removed statues or renamed public spaces memorializing the Confederacy and Confederate leaders, while others remain embroiled in debate. This survey, conducted jointly by PRRI and E Pluribus Unum, examines the role of race and racism in how Americans view Confederate monuments, as well as American attitudes toward creating making public spaces more inclusive.

Credits Earned by Graduating High School Seniors

May 16, 2022

As the total number of credits taken by high school students has increased since 1990, so have the number of credits taken in key humanities subjects and the share of students earning credits in these subjects.

State of the Humanities 2022: From Graduate Education to the Workforce

April 18, 2022

Given the recent decline in students earning bachelor's degrees in the humanities, a great deal of concern is focused on undergraduate education. But many of the questions received by the Humanities Indicators staff have to do with outcomes for those who earn a graduate degree in the field. This report explores several key topics related to graduate education, including degree trends, the demographics of degree recipients, the extent to which programs engage students in career preparation activities, and graduates' career outcomes. The report relies heavily on the high-quality data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, and also the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, several of whose surveys yield valuable information about graduate degree holders in the humanities.The findings include a few surprises: 1) while most of the attention in the disciplines seems to focus on PhDs, the field conferred almost five times as many master's as doctoral degrees in recent years; 2) even so, the number of master's degrees conferred annually in the humanities has been in decline over the past several years and their share of all master's and professional degrees reached a historic low in 2020; 3) the number of humanities PhDs awarded each year was at a near-record high in 2020, but as a share of all doctoral degrees, they fell to a historic low; 4) while the academic job market for humanities PhDs has been depressed since 2008, there is no evidence that this is due to the substitution of adjunct for tenure-track positions; and 5) regardless of where they end up—either in academia or out—the large majority of graduate degree recipients in the humanities are satisfied with their jobs, despite earnings that are considerably lower than those of their counterparts from other fields.This report reflects the ongoing mission of the Humanities Indicators, a nationally recognized source of nonpartisan information about the field. The Indicators website covers 121 topics and includes more than 340 graphs detailing the state of the humanities in schools, higher education, and the workforce; levels of support for research and other key activities; and the role of the humanities in the day-to-day life of the nation. The project draws on data sources that meet the highest standards of social scientific rigor, relying heavily on the products of the U.S. federal statistical system.

Reimagine Descriptive Workflows: A Community-informed Agenda for Reparative and Inclusive Descriptive Practice

April 5, 2022

OCLC, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, sponsored the Reimagine Descriptive Workflows project to better understand and address harm caused by cultural institutions' collection descriptions.The Reimagine Descriptive Workflows project convened a group of experts, practitioners, and community members to determine ways of improving descriptive practices, tools, infrastructure, and workflows in libraries and archives. The result, this community agenda, is offered to the broad library and archives community of practice. The agenda draws together insights from the convening, related research, and operational work that is ongoing in the field. All institutions hold power to make meaningful changes in this space, and all share collective responsibility.  The agenda is constructed to instruct and chart a path toward reparative and inclusive description. The agenda is divided into two distinct parts.The first part provides contextual information regarding the project, the convening, and the methods used to create this agenda. It also frames the historical, local, and workflow challenges and tensions to consider when approaching inclusive and reparative metadata work.The second part offers a framework of guidance that suggests actions and exercises that can help frame institutions' local priorities and areas for change, and also provides examples to inspire local work.OCLC, as an organization that plays a significant role in the stewardship of library metadata, is very pleased to be able to facilitate the production of this community agenda. The agenda and its recommendations will also be an important guide for OCLC as it charts its own way forward. The work of confronting and addressing harmful description practice is not easy, and we are grateful for community contributions that have informed and shaped this project and publication.

Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement

February 22, 2022

A report from the American Association for State and Local History, FrameWorks Institute, National Council on Public History, and Organization of American Historians offers a framing strategy for building a broader understanding of what inclusive history looks like and why it is important for all of us. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, the report, Making History Matter: From Abstract Truth to Critical Engagement, provides historians, educators, museum professionals, and history advocates with evidence-backed recommendations for more cohesively and convincingly communicate about history. To enable productive public dialog about history, which in recent years has become the subject of divisive political discourse, the report's authors call for shifting the focus in three ways: from truth to critical thinking, from abstract debate to concrete engagement, and from winning the debate to progress toward justice. For each recommendation, the report suggests concrete steps to shift current patterns of thinking, for example: explain how the practice of history requires using critical thinking to evaluate different sources and perspectives about the past and different understandings, focus on the process of historical interpretation rather than the goal of interpretation, and connect progress to the idea of learning from past wrongs.

State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond

November 8, 2021

How should one measure the value of a college degree? In recent years, policy-makers have focused their attention on earnings as the primary measure of the value of a degree, often using that metric to single out humanities degrees as less valuable than others. But there are other—less tangible—measures of value, such as satisfaction with one's work and life more generally, that might also be applied to these discussions.Without taking a position on which metrics are best, this report, based largely on original research commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Humanities Indicators, examines a variety of outcome measures, including graduates' satisfaction with their jobs, their finances, and their lives generally. The evidence shows that humanities graduates tend to earn less and have slightly higher levels of unemployment than business majors and graduates from some STEM fields. With respect to perceived well-being, however, humanities majors are similar to graduates from almost every other field. The data cannot explain the seeming disparity between the objective and subjective measures, but they provide a starting point for a more nuanced discussion about the relationship among fields of undergraduate study, employment, and quality of life. And for faculty, the report also points to a potential area of concern regarding the way they communicate to students about the skills developed in the course of an education in the field, as a substantial share of humanities graduates perceive little or no relationship between their job and their degree. The data were all gathered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but past experience tracking this sort of data for the humanities—particularly through the Great Recession—gives us little reason to expect a significant shift in values over the medium term.

Democracy Counts 2020: Record-Breaking Turnout and Student Resiliency

October 28, 2021

This report contains findings from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE, pronounced n-solve), a landmark study of U.S. college and university student voting. Launched in 2013, NSLVE consists of a database of more than 10 million de-identified student records that have been combined with publicly available voting records for each of the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, and now, 2020 elections. Participating institutions include two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities, including graduate programs. Campuses must opt in, and at the time of this report, roughly 1,200 colleges and universities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participate. For this report, we examine 1,051 campuses representing approximately 9 million student voters.

Improving Healthcare by Investing in the Future of Nursing

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores Jonas Philanthropies investments in the futures of nurses. In 2008, Barbara and Donald Jonas decided to focus their philanthropy on nursing education leadership at the doctoral level through the Jonas Scholars program. 

Leading Change

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores Ford Foundation's International Fellowships Program, a 10-year initiative that began in 2001. After a long, productive history in scholarship support, the Ford Foundation mobilized professional development of social justice leaders from vulnerable and under-represented communities around the world. 

A Regional Approach to Prosperity for All

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores how Kauffman Foundation implemented the Kauffman Scholars program to increase college completion for students in Kansas City, Missouri. It includes the perspective on how the foundation transitioned its strategy and included an emphasis on career-readiness and family support to help students persist through challenges and reach their goals.

A Legacy of Breaking Barriers

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's Scholarships for Change portal (, explores The Jackie Robinson Foundation's Scholars Program. The Foundation was created in Jackie Robinson's name to perpetuate his impact and remembrance. The Foundation's programming has grown considerably over the past 45 years, yet the Scholars Program remains centered around long-term commitment.