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Benchmarking Foundation Learning and Evaluation Practices 2023

October 5, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of philanthropy, foundations are continuously seeking ways to enhance their effectiveness and maximize their contributions to social impact. Foundations across the country are striving to change how they work to be more equitable, trust-based, and community-centered—including in their learning and evaluation practices.How can foundations position learning and evaluation so that it aligns with their core values?One invaluable resource aiding this endeavor is the Center for Evaluation Innovation's new 2023 release of its Benchmarking Research on Foundation Learning and Evaluation Practices report. This signature research has been tracking trends in how foundations structure, staff, resource, and prioritize the work of their learning and evaluation functions since 2009.* This year, we made key shifts in this research cycle to align with our own north star of racial equity and social justice. The 2023 report includes survey data from learning and evaluation leaders at independent and community foundations with an annual grantmaking budget of at least $10 million annually and/or who engage with the Evaluation Roundtable network. Leaders at 106 foundations completed it. Where possible and appropriate, we used time, foundation commitment to equity, and foundation annual giving as frames in analyzing the data.These findings offer a starting point for crucial reflections and conversations about learning and evaluation work in the philanthropic sector. They provide us with an opportunity to be in community together and give us a mechanism for holding ourselves accountable to what we think our sector should be doing. 

Introduction to Racial Inequity as a Systemic Risk: Why Investors Should Care and How They Can Take Action

June 20, 2023

This report outlines how the financial industry can manage the systemic risk of racial inequity and promote the equitable distribution of resources, power, and economic opportunity across all races and ethnicities in the U.S. – to advance racial justice and to protect their bottom lines.The report was developed in partnership with TIIP's Racial Equity Working Group. It recommends how investors can leverage conventional investment techniques and more advanced approaches to manage the risks of racial inequity and embed racial equity across portfolios.

Collective Good

October 26, 2021

This memo lays out key recommendations for supporting AANHPI communities while evolving and refining a practice of cross-racial solidarity and action. It is an invitation to add a critical layer to strengthen racial equity strategy in philanthropy.

Surdna Foundation 2020 Grantee Perception Report

April 21, 2021

In late 2020, the CEP asked approximately 300 Surdna and Andrus Family Fund grantee organizations to participate in an independent, confidential survey. Fifty-two percent of grantees completed the survey, which CEP then analyzed and prepared as a Grantee Perception Report comparing our results to prior years and a larger set of foundations.We want to thank everyone who completed the survey amid a pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. Its findings show significant improvements in some areas and new challenges in others.

Justice in 100 Metrics: Tools for Measuring Equity in 100% Renewable Energy Policy Implementation

January 1, 2021

This report reviews existing literature and compiles equity metrics for the implementation of 100% renewable energy policy. Initiative for Energy Justice created this literature review for energy regulators and communities engaged in energy rulemaking proceedings in particular. The content may also be adapted to address equity initiatives within utilities, and used by advocates in independent efforts to hold utilities accountable to equity standards. The resources provided are meant to provide a flexible basis from which to expand systems of accountability regarding equity goals in the implementation of 100% renewable energy (or 100% clean energy) policy.

Massachusetts Working Cities Challenge Final Assessment of Round 1 Progress

July 20, 2018

In May 2013, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Boston Fed) formally launched the Working Cities Challenge: An Initiative for Massachusetts Smaller Cities. The Working Cities Challenge (WCC) encourages and supports leaders from the business, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit sectors in smaller, postindustrial cities to work collaboratively on innovative strategies that have the potential to produce large-scale results for low-income residents in their communities. Ultimately, the Boston Fed expects that the teams' efforts will build the cities' civic infrastructure leading to long-term improved prosperity and opportunity for residents in Working Cities.The Boston Fed developed a competitive process for city selection in which a jury chose the winning cities with the grant award varying based on the strength of the cities' proposals. WCC announced in early 2014 the award of a total of $1.8 million in grants to six working cities. The competitive grants included four implementation grants ranging in size from $700,000 to $225,000 over a planned three-year period awarded to Chelsea, Fitchburg, Holyoke, and Lawrence. In addition, WCC awarded two smaller $100,000 one-year seed grants to Salem and Somerville. Based on the assessment of progress at the midpoint of the implementation period, the Boston Fed extended the grant cycle slightly and augmented the implementation grants. Following a second juried competitive application process, the Boston Fed awarded each of the four implementation cities an additional $150,000 and extended the grant period through September 2017, making implementation a full three-and-a-half years. Beyond the grant funds, the working cities have received technical assistance and opportunities for shared learning and peer exchange. While perhaps less tangible than technical assistance, but no less important, the working cities now have greater visibility and new forums for access to funders as well.Below is a presentation produced by Mt. Auburn Associates.Please find the full report, case studies, and additional resources here:

The New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Edition

April 11, 2018

As New Orleans completes her 300th year, the tricentennial is an important moment to reflect on the city's history and achievements. But in addition to celebrating their storied past, New Orleanians are eager to learn from it. Since 2005, when Katrina struck and the levees failed, New Orleanians have worked hard to rebuild their city better than before, preserving that which they treasure, while reforming and strengthening their institutions, and increasing opportunities for prosperity. The tricentennial represents an auspicious occasion for both celebration and reflection.

Investing in the Indigenous Arts Ecology

April 5, 2018

This report evaluates the impact and effectiveness of our pilot Native Arts Economy Building grant program as part of First Peoples Fund's ongoing efforts to refine a model of creative placemaking, especially for building creative economies, that is unique to tribal communities.

Renewing America's Economic Promise Through Older Industrial Cities

April 1, 2018

An in-depth analysis of the key attributes of dozens of older industrial cities across the country, this report argues that bottom-up efforts to better leverage their advantages, and address their disadvantages, can help achieve improved economic growth, prosperity, and inclusion for all.This report was published by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings with support, in part, by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

Not Just Money: Equity Issues in Cultural Philanthropy

July 1, 2017

This report summarizes the main findings of the recent research, revisiting the reasons why addressing diversity and equity issues in the cultural sector matters more than ever and reviewing six key findings related to national and local patterns of funding distribution, the demographics of people making funding decisions, and the distinct issues facing cultural organizations whose primary artistic mission is to serve communities of color or low-income communities. It concludes with suggestions for how to speed progress toward a more inclusive and equitable system of cultural philanthropy.

Patterns of Disparity: Small Business Lending in the Buffalo and New Brunswick Regions

April 1, 2017

Part of our Patterns of Disparity series, this report examines bank lending to businesses in Buffalo, BY and New Brunswick, NJ. The purpose is to determine the extent to which banks are meeting the credit needs of businesses throughout those two regions. The focus of the report is on the smaller value loans under $100,000 that are most likely to support smaller, local businesses that provide employment and wealth-building opportunities for local residents.

The Social Wellbeing of New York City's Neighborhoods: The Contribution of Culture and the Arts

March 9, 2017

This report presents the conceptual framework, data and methodology, and findings of a two-year study of culture and social wellbeing in New York City by SIAP with Reinvestment Fund. Building on their work in Philadelphia, the team gathered data from City agencies, borough arts councils, and cultural practitioners to develop a 10-dimension social wellbeing framework—which included construction of a cultural asset index—for every neighborhood in the five boroughs. The research was undertaken between 2014 and 2016.The social wellbeing tool enables a variety of analyses: the distribution of opportunity across the city;identification of areas with concentrated advantage, concentrated disadvantage, aswell as "diverse and struggling" neighborhoods with both strengths and challenges; and analysis of the relationship of"neighborhood cultural ecology" to other features of a healthy community.