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A School District Invests in Male Student Success

By Jay Sherwin

Occasionally, we are lucky enough to meet colleagues or participate in programs that help us to look at familiar problems with new perspective and new insights. I recently had the opportunity to re-examine an issue I’ve considered for many years: How can we help young men of color to succeed in school and thrive in the world beyond school?

As an education funder and philanthropy consultant, I’ve spent the last decade confronting this problem. The statistics are grim and familiar. On a variety of standardized tests, African-American, Latino and Native American males achieve at significantly lower levels than ... Learn more »

The Blind Men & the Elephant

By Naomi Orensten

While we rarely think about it as an evaluation or planning tool, poetry can open space for broader thinking and understanding to inform more strategic action. The poem below serves as a powerful and humble reminder that seldom do we see the full picture. What we see with our own eyes is in fact an interpretation of our own limited experience.

The Blind Men & the Elephant

by John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the ... Learn more »

Teaching Through Text?

By Jamie Elmasu

In this digital age, texts, tweets, apps and tags are becoming a main mode of communication for youth. Technology is becoming less bound to desks and is more mobile, accessible and versatile. More and more youth are beginning to own some type of mobile device. According to a new report by the World Bank, about three-quarters of the world’s inhabitants have access to a mobile phone; usage is especially prevalent in developing countries where mobile phones are often more reliable than landline phones and internet infrastructure. Mobile learning, or m-learning, has enabled many people to access ... Learn more »

The Gold Standard

By: Kris Helé

For the past two weeks, the greatest athletes in the world competed on the world’s greatest stage. The lion’s share of more than 3,500 hours of live Olympic coverage focused on the thrill of victory, the medal count and the athletes who overcame considerable obstacles to excel in their respective sports. So why can’t I stop thinking about the agony of defeat?

When I watched the Olympics, I could hardly celebrate the record-breaking races, nearly perfect routines and beautiful goals because I felt so terrible for the contenders who were punished for a tiny mistake, dropped out due ... Learn more »

My Mechanic Tells Me More About Costs Than My Healthcare Provider

By: Nadia Salibi

Last week, my car broke down. There was absolutely no ignition noise when I turned the key. After calling a local auto shop and describing my car problem, the mechanic told me to bring it in for further examination. I immediately became tense; all I could think about was the out-of-pocket cost. I asked if he could refrain from doing any work on the car until he gave me a cost quote and was shocked at his reply: “We are not permitted to work on the car until we tell you how much it will cost.”

Unfortunately, I ... Learn more »

Let’s not Forget About “Small p” Partnerships

By Kim Ammann Howard

Flying back from the Grantmakers for Effective Organization’s National Conference, I reflected on the conversations I had about how to support nonprofits to enhance their effectiveness. I was particularly struck by the last session, “Can’t We All Play Nice: Reducing Government Barriers to Working with Nonprofits,” which highlighted the disproportionate amount of nonprofit support from the public sector as compared to philanthropy (about 3:1). While government agencies provide a large percentage of support for nonprofits that address pressing social issues, they often lack the appropriate knowledge, experience or capacity to support nonprofits as effectively ... Learn more »

Evaluation Beyond Accountability

By Ria Sengupta Bhatt

For those of us immersed in the evaluation field, we know that a well-executed evaluation can do much more than serve as a method of accountability or fulfill a requirement. Especially in the field of philanthropy, a comprehensive evaluation can facilitate continuous learning within foundations and the field at large, increase the effectiveness of a grantmaking strategy, and increase innovation. But not all grantmakers fully embrace this approach. GEO’s most recent national study of philanthropic practice found that while 70% of grantmakers engage in evaluation, most are still “focused on proof and accountability rather than ... Learn more »

Where are the Impact Measurements in Corporate Giving Programs?

By Regina Sheridan & Gagandeep Kaur

The corporate world is notorious for collecting metrics to guide their business strategy. This is evident by executives’ fixation on cost-benefit analyses, return on investment reports and performance measurements. However, this rigor often seems to be absent when it comes to corporate giving programs.

A report by the Global Reporting Initiative, the University of Hong Kong and CSR Asia notes that corporations often track company outputs (e.g., money granted, hours volunteered by employees, products donated) and rely on anecdotal stories and individual testimonials to describe the impact of their programs on communities. In other ... Learn more »

Evaluating Networks: Don’t Throw Out the Baby with the Bath Water

By Kim Ammann Howard

While the importance of networks to advance social change seems well accepted, how to assess their effectiveness is not. In a recent webinar I held on cultivating networks with Claire Reinelt from the Leadership Learning Community and Melanie Moore from See Change, many participants asked questions about measurement. How do we know if the networks have an impact? What is the best way to measure networks? How do we know how much the network contributes to desired outcomes relative to grants, technical assistance or other supports? Network mapping and network assessments are some ... Learn more »

Bringing Method to the Madness

By Kris Helé

My college basketball brackets have busted. I’m disgusted and embarrassed. Why is it that people who select their brackets on the basis of uniform colors or mascots tend to do just as well or better than those who spend hours poring over stats or those who have at least a basic understanding of sports?

“They call it March Madness for a reason,” my friend tells me. This further agitates my analytical mind, awash in anxiety and grief over the unpredictability of it all.

As I lamented my risky choice for the champion (c’mon Baylor, what happened?), I got to ... Learn more »

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