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Inside The Foundation Review, Vol. 15 Iss. 2

Inside The Foundation Review, Vol. 15 Iss. 2

Front cover of The Foundation Review Volume 15, Issue 2, featuring a photo of the Cook Carillon Tower on GVSU's main campus in Allendale, Mich.This issue of The Foundation Review highlights examples of systems-change philanthropy, community-building philosophy, the evolution of foundation staff roles, place-based efforts, and more.

It concludes with a review of the book, Changing Systems, Changing Lives: Reflecting on 20 Years, published by The Nicholson Foundation.


Inside Vol. 15 Issue 2:

Systems-Change Philanthropy: It’s Essential, and It’s Our Responsibility
Emily Bhandari, M.P.Aff., M.S.SW., Alison Mohr Boleware, L.M.S.SW., and Octavio N. Martinez Jr., M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., F.A.P.A., Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

In this article, Bhandari, Boleware, and Martinez describe an ambitious and successful initiative of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to expand the pool of professionals with the skills to address mental health policy in Texas. The policy fellows worked in community organizations for the duration of the fellowship; many then moved on to leadership positions. As foundations have increasingly focused on systems change and sustainability, the importance of policy in creating and maintaining change has become clear, and models such as this for creating policy capacity are needed.

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Community Building as a Philosophy, Not an Initiative
Anne Kubisch, M.P.I.A., Kasi Allen, Ph.D., and Max Gimbel, M.A., The Ford Family Foundation

Place-based initiatives seem to be having something of a resurgence in the last few years. Kubisch, Allen, and Gimbel share how The Ford Family Foundation, a rural embedded funder in southern Oregon, adopted a community-building philosophy central to their work. The foundation’s bilingual Community Building Approach Wheel may be a useful tool for other foundations who are considering how place-based work might avoid the pitfalls of the last generation of such work.

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How Foundations in an Aligned-Action Network Start to Move to Equity in Philanthropy: Findings from a Year of Observations and Interviews
Jamie Levine Daniel, Ph.D., New York University; Tuyen K. Dinh, M.S., and Laurie Paarlberg, Ph.D., Indiana University Indianapolis

Using data from interviews with foundation staff, network meeting observations, and network documents, Daniel, Dihn, and Paarlberg examine how community foundations define equity; what structures, processes, and activities were perceived as supporting their equity-related work; and how membership in an aligned-action network helped highlight these efforts. They found that the foundation focus (internal/external) and how they expressed their commitment (implicit/explicit) were important variables.

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From Philanthropoid to Foundation Professional: Reflecting on a Century of Staff Role Development in U.S. Private Foundations
Michele Fugiel Gartner, Ph.D., Tobias Jung, Ph.D., and Alina Baluch, Ph.D., University of St Andrews, Centre for the Study of Philanthropy & Public Good

Whether or not philanthropy is a profession has been debated in the literature, but little attention has been given to foundations’ internal dynamics and how the roles of foundation staff have developed and evolved over time. Gartner, Jung, and Baluch synthesize research on the impact of philanthropic events on role evolution, demonstrating a movement from amateur traditions to emerging professional influences. Four areas of inquiry are presented for foundation practitioners and associations to explore: expertise, training, competencies, and policies. The debate may continue, but bringing research to the discussion is a welcome development.

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Exploring Flexibility in Philanthropic Funding for Place-Based Efforts to Improve Community Health: Reflections on a New York State Multisite Initiative
Beth C. Weitzman, Ph.D., and Courtney Abrams, M.A., New York University; Bronwyn Starr, M.P.H., New York Health Foundation; Irfan Hasan, M.P.A., The New York Community Trust; and Amy Shire, Brian Elbel, and Carolyn Berry, New York University

In this article, Weitzman, Abrams, Starr, Hasan, Shire, Elbel, and Berry share insights and reflections from the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, a $22 million, six-year, place-based effort by two grantmaking foundations across nine diverse communities in New York state. They found that local partnership structures built on existing relationships and those that had or could quickly build trust of key actors and community residents were more effective at sustaining strategic activities and engagement. This article compliments the Kubisch et al. article, underscoring the importance of relationships and trust.

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Book Review: Changing Systems, Changing Lives: Reflecting on 20 Years
Kennedy Musyoka, M.B.A., Emily Irungu, M.B.A., and Margaret F. Sloan, Ph.D., James Madison University

This issue concludes with a review of the book Changing Systems, Changing Lives: Reflecting on 20 Years. Musyoka, Irungu, and Sloan give a very positive review of this reflection on the mission and strategies of The Nicholson Foundation during its 20-year history of pursuing systems-level change for vulnerable populations. They note that the authors encourage a paradigm shift among foundations — from an in-perpetuity model to one of high-impact investing and the intentional spending down of assets — and show how The Nicholson Foundation accomplished that transition. As limited-life foundations continue to gain interest, this is a welcome addition to the literature on the topic.

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