Amy Celep, Sara Brenner and Rachel Mosher-Williams
This article argues that a foundation’s internal culture is critical to achieving large-scale social change, but that efforts to build a change-making culture too often are left out of strategy conversations.
While there is no one culture that suits every foundation, a particular set of characteristics must be present in those that seek large-scale social change: a focus on outcomes, transparency, authenticity, collaboration, racial equity and inclusion, continuous learning, and openness to risk. This article offers insights into why culture can be challenging for foundations to address and maintain, examines cases of successful culture change at foundations, and offers advice for foundations that aspire to it.
Summer Youth Employment Programs (SYEP) are believed to improve the economic, academic, and behavioral outcomes of the population they serve, particularly for inner-city, low-income, and non-white youth. As part of a larger evaluation, we collected survey data on participants in the Boston 2015 SYEP. These participants reported additional job readiness skills, higher academic aspirations, and more positive attitudes towards their communities compared to the control group. Overall, these trends are encouraging, particularly because the largest gains were observed for minority youth. It remains unclear whether these short-term improvements will result in sustained advantages down the road. In the second phase of our evaluation, we hope to tackle this question by linking the survey responses reported in this brief to administrative data from employment, academic, and behavioral records, to better articulate the long-term effects of SYEP.
The purpose of this exploratory study is to attempt to identify particular public policies which have the potential to increase the economic viability of smaller metropolitan areas and cities. We identify characteristics associated with smaller metro areas that performed better-than-expected (winners) and worse-than-expected (losers) during the 1990s, given their resources, industrial mix, and location as of 1990. Once these characteristics have been identified, we look for evidence that public policy choices may have promoted and enhanced a metro area’s ability to succeed and to regain control of its own economic destiny. Methodologically, we construct a regression model which identifies the small metro areas that achieved higher-than-expected economic prosperity (winners) and the areas that saw lower-than-expected economic prosperity (losers) according to the model. Next, we explore whether indications exist that winners and losers are qualitatively different from other areas in ways that may indicate consequences of policy choices. A cluster analysis is completed to group the metro areas based on changes in a host of social, economic, and demographic variables between 1990 and 2000. We then use contingency table analysis and ANOVA to see if “winning” or “losing,” as measured by the error term from the regression, is related to the grouping of metro areas in a way that may indicate the presence of deliberate and replicable government policy.
Adapted from an address given at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, January 22, 2015, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Social Development.