Marguerite Casey Foundation: Movement Building Helping Low-Income Families Strengthen their Voices and Mobilize their Community

Loyola University Chicago



Case Study Sector

Community Building

In October 2001, the Marguerite Casey Foundation was established as an independent, private grantmaking foundation with an initial endowment of $600 million. The Foundation began its grantmaking operations in early 2002. Casey Family Programs officially created this new foundation to help expand Casey’s outreach and advance its 36-year record of leadership in child welfare and family support. The goal of the Foundation is to engage low-income parents in efforts to improve conditions for their families. Towards this end the Foundation supports community-based leadership and promotes education, activism, and advocacy among families, parents, caregivers, and youth. Since December 2002 they have made $65 million in grants to more than 170 organizations. This case study presents an overview of the initial years of the foundation, focusing on the Foundation’s philosophy, mission, and process for grantmaking. This discussion is placed in the larger context of several issues in contemporary philanthropy which include diversity of approaches and strategies employed in philanthropy to promote social change and the effectiveness of various philanthropic approaches to promote social change and influence social policy.

This case study appears in the collection Lessons from Philanthropy: A Case Studies Approach: A Report to the Ford Foundation. The case studies are designed to increase the relevance of philanthropy teaching curriculums and better prepare future leaders that are engaged in philanthropy and nonprofit sector work. The overall goal of the present project was to develop case studies that would serve as teaching/learning tools about philanthropy by providing in-depth examination of critical issues and experiences related to foundation decision-making, governance and fund- distribution. Throughout the development of these cases, a special emphasis on philanthropic involvement in communities of color and other underserved communities was maintained in order to improve philanthropy’s work in relation to these populations.



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