Learning for Community Change: Core Components of Foundations that Learn
Source: Chapin Hall Center for Children (University of Chicago)
This paper explores how foundations that invest in community change can learn more from their efforts. Learning here refers not only to the content of knowledge but also to the broad range of structures, policies, and practices through which funders gather, organize, interpret, integrate, assess, transfer and apply information and insights to improve their own organizational performance. Implicit in the paper’s approach is a view that a foundation’s approach to learning about community change can touch and challenge every dimension of institutional life—from mission to organizational structure, staffing, and external relationships. Thinking more effectively about learning for community change also means acknowledging the link between individual foundation learning and the field’s learning. The paper identifies and explores seven core components of learning foundations, derived from interviews with foundation leaders, experts, and researchers prominent in the community change field. The discussion of each component includes examples from foundation practice. Each of the components affects how broad, useful knowledge is generated, integrated, internalized, and applied, and each supports and reinforces the others. Respondents suggest that, collectively, these components can transform the way foundations approach community change and the results they produce.
Region: Northern America