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Field Notes

Root Cause’s Work in Corporate Philanthropy

March 6, 2024

As Root Cause moves through 2024, we want to highlight two recently completed multi-year projects with our corporate philanthropic partners. 


Over the past three years, Root Cause provided capacity building support, coaching, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to strengthen the work and impact of State Street Foundation’s nonprofit grantees. With State Street’s partnership, Root Cause provided tools and resources, delivered 17 workshops and webinars, and provided over 630 1:1 coaching hours to 24 nonprofit organizations in Boston and throughout the United States. 

  • In Year 1, 100% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that coaching helped them to focus on a pressing organizational challenge and said they received valuable input from their peers to address challenges they were facing.
  • In Years 2 and 3, 100% of participants were able to use coaching time to focus on making improvements in an area that is important to them and/or their team, made valuable connections to fellow cohort members, and said that workshops were valuable, responsive to their organization’s needs, and a positive learning environment.
  • Across all three cohorts, Root Cause and State Street volunteers partnered to adapt corporate materials to the nonprofit setting. Notably, Root Cause worked with the State Street Culture Team two years in a row to deliver a workshop to grantees about strategies for developing an organizational culture that fosters openness to continuous improvement and effectively manages the people side of change processes.

Whitney Kimmel, Vice President of Corporate Citizenship at the State Street Foundation, said: “Our team at Root Cause was a tremendous source of support and thought partnership in a time of greatest need. Our partners have moved from a place of surviving to thriving, thanks in large part to our initiatives with Root Cause. Root Cause is the expert in the nonprofit sector and a trusted voice for all our partners.” 


Similarly, 2023 brought to a close a five-year partnership with the Biogen Foundation. In 2017, Root Cause worked with the Biogen Foundation to design and launch a new philanthropic initiative in its headquarters community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Root Cause served as the backbone organization for STAR (Science, Teacher support, Access & Readiness), a 5-year, $12M STEM ecosystem building initiative that advances educational equity for students in grades 6-14 who have been historically underrepresented in STEM, including students of color, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners. Over the past five years, STAR has served over 4000 students and 600 educators in 15 schools. 87% of STAR 9th graders from low-income households passed all STEM courses (vs. 78% of non-STAR peers) and 49% of STAR high school students from low-income households chose honors science courses (vs. 39% of non-STAR peers).

The Biogen Foundation said, “Root Cause has been an invaluable partner in building and managing a major philanthropic collective action initiative for our Biogen Foundation. They are excellent at engaging a diverse range of stakeholders, and ensuring everyone’s input is valued and reflected in how we work together to move the needle in STEM education equity.”

More than ever, companies are expected to play active roles in advancing an equitable and sustainable world. Root Cause works with companies to support their nonprofit grantees, launch and manage new philanthropic initiatives, and engage local communities in company focus areas.

Learn more about how Root Cause helps companies develop and implement actionable philanthropic strategies below:

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