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This blog contains posts on social impact from FSG’s leadership team.
Posted by: Hallie Preskill on 8/7/2012

Question: What do the following foundation led initiatives have in common?

  1. The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s YouthScape program tested strategies for involving excluded youth in the community development process, in part by encouraging traditionally adult-focused organizations to examine and re-design their values, structures, and processes.
  2. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Community Information Challenge (KCIC) funded 76 community and place-based projects, to create and support new news models, online information hubs, citizen journalism activities, youth media outlets, advocacy campaigns, and civic engagement activities, in an effort to keep communities informed and engaged. 
  3. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Community Partnerships portfolio focuses on improving postsecondary completion rates for low income young adults through the activation and coordination of a number of diverse stakeholders. Community partnerships use data to inform their strategy, they seek to build commitment among stakeholders, and they tackle policy and practice change.
Answer: They are all social innovations!
Posted by: Hallie Preskill on 1/9/2012

Though I am an optimist by nature, I have long been concerned about the schisms that exist between strategy and evaluation, in most organizations, and how this constrains philanthropy’s ability to achieve social impact. Michael Q. Patton and Patti Patrizi suggest that “evaluators have been slow to focus on evaluating strategy because strategy is closely associated with planning, and as evaluators we don’t do planning, we do evaluation.” But, they emphasize that “there is a movement afoot that suggests that evaluating strategy is not about evaluating strategic planning, or even strategic plans. It’s about evaluating strategy itself.”

Posted by: Hallie Preskill on 8/1/2011

I’ve been thinking a lot recently, about how evaluations of social innovations can more effectively communicate the effects and impact of their efforts. In particular, I’ve been asking myself (and anyone who will wonder with me), How can evaluation findings, insights, and recommendations be translated into actionable knowledge that inform and influence decision making and action?

Posted by: Hallie Preskill on 2/22/2011

Ever since the publication of Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, organizations in every sector have talked about becoming learning organizations. Senge described a learning organization as one, “where people expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.” Throughout the early 1990’s I remember walking up and down airplane aisles and seeing every third person reading Senge’s book. While the idea of being a learning organization clearly struck a chord, operationalizing the concepts of what it means to be a learning organization, has been more elusive. Dilbert’s parody of Captain Kirk from Star Trek epitomized the time – Dilbert’s boss hands him The Fifth Discipline, and tells him “to make it so.” If it were only that easy!

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