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The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Partnering To Build the Capacity - And Impact - Of A Grantee Network

At Community Wealth Partners, we support foundation and nonprofit efforts across the country to strengthen the effectiveness of leaders and organizations within their networks of grantees and affiliates. Since 2008, The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been one of our closest partners in this capacity-building work.

Nearly 16 million children live in poverty in our nation today, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2015 KIDS COUNT report. Throughout its history, the Foundation has dedicated its mission and resources to solving this problem and to ensuring brighter futures for disadvantaged children across the United States.

Central to the Foundation’s effort in solving this problem is building the capacity, confidence, and competencies of leaders and organizations in its networks working every day to strengthen families, build stronger communities and ensure equitable access to opportunities. Its approach to change is straightforward: if the Foundation can help strengthen key leaders and organizations through capacity-building techniques informed by results-based accountability (RBA) and race, equity and inclusion principles (REI), these organizations will be better positioned to achieve improved outcomes and equitable opportunities for their children, families and communities.

“Coaching helped me through the establishment of a brand-new board and the launch of a Strategic Roadmap process that will allow my organization to be more effectively governed and have clear priorities and greater impact in the next few years.”
-2015 Coaching Participant

And a key element of this capacity-building approach is its use of data to inform the support provided. In 2013, in partnership with the Foundation and the KIDS COUNT Network, Community Wealth Partners helped pioneer an innovative organizational assessment – the Capacity Indicator Tool. This tool provides a 360o assessment of the organization across 80-100 customizable questions and 6 competencies (from strategic leadership to organizational development) that are needed to be a “5-star organization.” Leadership, staff and board members at participating organizations separately complete the Capacity Indicator Tool, and Community Wealth Partners provides an individual report with quantitative and qualitative data on greatest strengths and recommended activities to meet capacity-building needs. Organizations then have access to the Advocacy Learning Lab, an online portal of resources, tools and information on competencies that Community Wealth Partners helped the Foundation develop. 

In addition to online tools, the Foundation provides select organizations with tailored coaching and capacity-building support from Community Wealth Partners to meet the specific needs identified in the Capacity Indicator Tool. Once we analyze the results of the assessment, our coaches and consultants then develop and execute on a practical plan with the grantees to strengthen their leadership skills and improve their organizational outcomes.

“My coach helped me unearth and describe the challenges we were facing as an organization. Her approach increased my sense of confidence because rather than do for me, she showed me how to help myself and the organization.”
-2015 Coaching Participant

Since Community Wealth Partners first partnered with the Foundation to strategically deploy capacity-building resources within its network of grantees, we have collected data that shows the process is helping transition leaders “from good to great.” And as a result of work with Casey grantees in 2015, leaders are continuing to achieve dramatic results:

  • Improved leadership confidence: 100% of grantees that responded to an evaluation survey agree that coaching has given them more confidence to execute on their decisions – shown by our data to be the key to improving organizational effectiveness.
  • Confidence to implement: 100% of grantees that responded to an evaluation survey intend to implement the ideas or solutions identified through their coaching engagement.
  • Increased awareness of racial equity framework: 75% of grantees were introduced to topics related to REI through their coaching engagements.

In continued partnership with the Foundation, Community Wealth Partners is excited to share this successful capacity-building model more broadly across the social sector, with the goal of ensuring that all organizations are positioned to achieve transformational impact for the communities and causes they serve.

“Community Wealth Partners has been instrumental in the evolution of the Foundation’s thinking as it pertains to our capacity-building efforts to strengthen the field. Working closely with us to align and customize TA support for our grantees and partners, Community Wealth Partners has also begun to incorporate the Foundation’s major priorities – Results-Based Accountability and Race, Equity and Inclusion – into their practice. This speaks volumes about our partnership, as it ensures consistency in our messaging to our partners in the field, and helps to raise expectations for the sector to be race/equity informed while delivering results for children, families and communities.”
-Samantha Mellerson, Senior Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation