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Bending Art and Culture Towards Justice: The Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture Program Investments in Diverse Creative Communities

December 12, 2022

What lessons can we learn about how change happens for arts organizations and networks that center People of Color and disabled artists, cultural producers, and executive leaders, especially those who have been further marginalized by sexism, heterosexism and xenophobia? What is the influence of a $230 million investment in their stability, their ability to expand their base of support and their lasting impact on the artists whose voices and cultural contributions they lift up?The Ford Foundation's Creativity and Free Expression Arts and Culture (CFE A&C) strategy discussion began in the Fall of 2015 and targeted goals of shifting "entrenched cultural narratives" that were embedded in and driving cultural norms. The early theory of change was to actually expand the scope of mainstream ideals to include content by underrepresented creators – shifting their status from the margins into the realm of being visible and seen in the mainstream. The 'margins to the mainstream' strategy has evolved over time to center the empowerment of People of Color creators and those with disabilities. The construct of 'mainstream ideals' has shifted from including content by these artists as part of the mainstream to influencing who has voice and who is widely recognized and valued as the mainstream.This report, based on research conducted from December 2021 to April 2022, summarizes key observations and strategic considerations from an in-depth evaluation of the strategy implemented by the Ford Foundation to support CFE A&C grantees, a strategy set in motion pre-pandemic. The purpose of Ford's evaluations is not focused on holding individual grantees accountable for complex social change outcomes, and instead seeks to prioritize learning; and, more specifically, to learn about how change happens and share lessons externally. Part of that learning centers not only on whether current approaches are having the desired impact, but also on whether modifications to the approaches or other internal factors might yield even greater impact.

Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA

November 30, 2022

After 28 years as a grant-making foundation, and as we enter our final weeks, we wanted to share our day-to-day experience at MAVA. We started doing this just over a year ago through our various learning products. But beyond the technical and partnership aspects, what are the main lessons we have learnt from our work as a donor?The 23-page publication 'Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA' illustrates – in the form of infographics – a summary of the history of the MAVA Foundation and the three successive phases of its structuring. It then presents the eight main lessons that we have learnt from our work as a donor and that we wish to share with the philanthropy sector. These lessons address the topics of collaboration, partners' expertise, donors' levers for action, and the role of foundations in the global system. In addition to describing each of these lessons, we provide elements of practice and an overall recommendation.

From “Innovation for Localization” to “Local Philanthropy, Localization and Power”

November 17, 2022

n 2021, five organizations – Save the Children Denmark, Network for Empowered Aid Response (NEAR), West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), STAR Ghana Foundation (SGF) and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) participated in an ambitious and experimental joint project.The aim of the project was to "test durable, locally rooted funding mechanisms" in Somalia and Ghana, with the broader purpose of contributing – by demonstration – to efforts within the international humanitarian aid and development sector to transform and localize aid. The purpose of this learning report, curated by the GFCF, is to capture some of the main insights and reflections ofthe participating organizations and to consider the broader implications of and lessons from the project. It focuses on the experiences of those involved and the larger question of how unorthodox configurations of actors and new and different kinds of partnerships might contribute towards transformative change within the international aid system. 

Collaborative Outcomes from the Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice

October 18, 2022

Established in mid-2021, the Youth Justice and Employment Community of Practice (CoP) is a partnership of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC), and Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) formed to improve outcomes for youth with justice involvement by increasing collaboration among local workforce and juvenile justice systems. The CoP began during the middle of COVID-19 at a time when counterparts in each jurisdiction were seeking to reestablish pandemic-disrupted communication and collaboration. CoP participants met monthly to share knowledge and expertise on topics of importance to both systems. Based on work from the CoP, participating cities and counties produced notable improvements in building relationships, expanding partnerships, and promoting investments that benefit justice-involved young people in their communities. This report documents successes and offers recommendations for others seeking to improve outcomes for these young people.

Urban Resilience: From Global Vision to Local Practice - Final Outcome Evaluation of the 100 Resilient Cities Program

September 15, 2022

Summer hailstorms in Mexico City, weeks-long heat waves in India, hurricane-force winds off the Great Lakes—extreme weather events are becoming commonplace, testing the resilience of local and regional governments across the world. But urban resilience extends beyond weathering climate shocks. It also entails maintaining and improving infrastructure, ecology, economy, and community at the city level.For six years, from 2013 to 2019, the 100 Resilient Cities program sought to boost the capacity of local governments across all facets of urban resilience. Although the program ended earlier than anticipated, its unprecedented breadth of participating cities and scope of intervention provided potential lessons for cities across the world as they prepare for and face an increasingly uncertain future.KEY TAKEAWAYSThe 100 Resilient Cities program included three cohorts of cities from across the globe, each of which experienced three interventions to improve city governance operational and planning capacity for resilience: the creation and selection of a Chief Resilience Officer, the development and publication of a resilience strategy, and the implementation of that strategy, with technical support provided by the program. The Urban Institute monitored and evaluated the core features of the 100 Resilient Cities program for almost seven years, with this final report focusing on the outcomes for city planning and operations attributable to interventions across a 21-city sample. From this program, we believe the following lessons learned can help cities improve their resilience moving forward.Cities must focus on chronic social vulnerability in addition to unexpected shocks. Although cities must be prepared for extreme weather events and civil unrest, both of which can cause extreme devastation, they must also address ongoing issues, such as failing infrastructure and health care accessibility.Chief Resilience Officers and robust networks can facilitate city-to-city learning. As with any program, collaboration and sharing of knowledge can benefit all parties involved. The network of Chief Resilience Officers could advocate for successful resilience strategies from other cities, which could lead to more collaboration in local governments and across regions.Resilient governance requires more voices to be involved in planning and development. Foregrounding inclusion and equity is crucial for building resilience, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to many underlying systemic inequities in countries across the world.Resilience building takes a long time. Despite the necessary urgency of building resilience, solutions take a long time to implement and need consistent funding and support to fulfill their potential. When the 100 Resilient Cities program ended early, many cities had developed plans and strategies but lost the support that would have helped them enact those solutions. Ongoing political and funder support is critical for long-term resilience.

Funding Narrative Change, An Assessment and Framework

September 7, 2022

Narrative change has become a popular focus with growing urgency to change public narratives around issues like racial justice, health equity, abortion rights, and rights for trans people. But because this area of work is relatively new for funders, the work is often siloed, leading to a lack of meaningful results. This report's authors propose a framework for funders and practitioners to shift narratives via mass culture, mass media, and mass movements.

Strengthening Domestic Violence Services for Deaf Survivors: An Evaluation of Barrier Free Living’s Deaf Services Program

August 25, 2022

More than 11 million people in the United States are Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, or Deaf-Blind. Research indicates deaf people report experiencing victimization at higher rates, but a lack of accessible resources and trauma-informed services for American Sign Language (ASL) speakers makes it difficult for deaf people to report crimes and access support. In response to these issues, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in 2017 began funding Barrier Free Living (BFL), a provider of services for survivors of domestic violence and their families, to increase access to direct services for deaf survivors and increase local stakeholders' awareness of deaf survivors' needs through its Deaf Services (DS) program.In 2019, Urban, in collaboration with Gallaudet University and NORC at the University of Chicago, began a multimethod process evaluation of BFL's DS program to document its implementation and assess to what extent it achieved its intended goals. 

Walton Family Foundation COVID Relief Fund Evaluation Final Report

June 13, 2022

In March 2020, the Walton Family Foundation established an emergency grant fund to quickly deploy resources to grantees and communities in response to the significant and evolving effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $35 million fund was designed to support organizations across all three of WFF's Program Areas (Education, Environment, and Home Region).The Foundation's Strategy, Learning, and Evaluation Department (SLED) and Public Profit, an evaluation and strategy firm, conducted a retrospective evaluation to learn more about the experience of the emergency grantmaking process and the impact of the COVID Relief Fund grants on grantees and communities. 

Race, Place and Power: Learnings from the Ford Foundation’s Just Cities and Regions Program

April 28, 2022

Housing insecurity is a challenge affecting the lives of far too many in the United States. After decades of work in the housing sector, we formalized the Just Cities and Regions (JCR) program in 2015 amidst a moment of growing racial and income inequality, increasing housing insecurity, and an accelerating climate crisis with disparate impacts. The strategy shifted from one based in 10 metro regions to one that aimed to bring about more systemic change across the country.JCR worked to integrate distinct dimensions necessary to winning change at scale by:Building community- and people-centered grassroots power through integrated civic engagement strategiesGrounding those strategies in the leadership and vision of communities disproportionately impacted, anchored by an ecosystem of strong, networked social movement infrastructureFocusing on creating systems-level interventions rather than public policy reform or near-term "fixes"Supporting relationship-based and long-term co-governance by communities and those in public leadership rolesWe sunset the JCR program at the end of 2021. In this reflection, we share our lessons throughout our history of investment.

Shifting the Evaluation Paradigm: The Equitable Evaluation Framework

April 30, 2021

This publication provides an overview of the impetus for the Equitable Evaluation Framework™ (EEF) and attempts to document early moments and first steps of engagement with U.S. philanthropic institutions — most often their research, evaluation and learning staff — whom we refer to as foundation partners throughout this publication. The themes shared in this publication surfaced through conversations with a group of foundation staff who have been part of the Equitable Evaluation Project, now referred to as the Equitable Evaluation Initiative (EEI), since 2017 as advisors, investment partners and/or practice partners.These are not case studies but insights and peeks behind the curtains of six foundation practice partners. It is our hope that, in reading their experiences, you will find something that resonates, be it a point of view, a mindset or a similar opportunity in your place of work.

Stigma-Free Abortion Services in Ghana: Project summary and pilot results

April 28, 2021

From August 2019 to January 2021, Youth Development Labs (YLabs) partnered with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) on the Stigma-Free Abortion Services (StigFAS) project, with the goal of increasing access to safe abortion services for young women and girls in Accra, Ghana.The project approach involved exploring the challenge through participatory qualitative research, developing an intervention through a youth-driven design process, and implementing a small pilot program. The intervention consisted of three complementary elements designed to increase girls' awareness of safe abortion options and improve their linkage to sexual health services, including safe abortion care. These elements wereGirl Boss, a future-focused outreach program led by female peer mentorsSister Support, a free phone/text confidential counseling and referral serviceSafe Pass, a partnership with local pharmacists to guide girls to safe abortion services.

Reducing Abortion Stigma: Global Achievements since 2014

February 10, 2021

Abortion stigma affects everyone: individuals, communities and service providers. Young women and adolescent girls bear the brunt of abortion stigma. It causes delays in people seeking abortion and stops others from accessing it, leading to unintended pregnancies. Stigma drives abortion underground, where it is more likely to be unsafe.Since 2014, the support of the David & Lucile Packard Foundation has enabled IPPF to reduce abortion stigma affecting young people around the world, working directly with Member Associations in six countries (Bénin, Burkina Faso, India, Pakistan, Ghana and Nepal). Meaningful youth participation has ensured that young people's lived experiences were central in every aspect of this work. This project has also supported smaller ground-breaking youth-led projects in 14 different countries: Albania, Colombia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Macedonia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Tanzania and Venezuela.This document highlights the achievements and learnings from the Abortion Stigma Project between 2014 and 2020, including case studies, research and evidence generated around abortion stigma, and popular resources and tools developed throughout the project, and more.