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W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Building grantee capacity for performance measurement, with a focus on racial equity

Partner

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Project

Building grantee capacity for performance measurement, with a focus on racial equity

Question

How can a foundation help direct service and advocacy grantees strengthen their performance measurement practice, build linkages between their programs, and increase their collective focus on racial equity in economic security?

Summary

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) first partnered with Root Cause to develop performance measurement systems for its Education & Learning (E&L) and Family Economic Security (FES) teams, to better ensure that the Foundation’s resources were best meeting its overall mission of supporting young children and families.

As it accelerated its performance measurement practice, the WKKF then observed that its own efforts relied upon grantees having the capacity to measure and report their performance. This was a particular challenge given the wide ranging profiles of grantees, which included direct service providers, think tanks, advocacy groups, and intermediaries working at the local, state and national levels. The Foundation also realized that while it had named and formed program teams around cohesive grantmaking strategies, the individual grantees and the work supported by those strategies remained largely disjointed.

WKKF then tapped Root Cause again to work directly with its FES grantees, building on our measurement work with the FES program team. Root Cause partnered with the WKKF team to develop and deliver varied technical assistance to help the 50+ grantees strengthen their measurement and evaluation capacity. We began with a detailed mapping of the grantee portfolio to understand the exact mix and profile of organizations represented, and their approaches to increasing family economic security. 

With this context, Root Cause then developed a flexible measurement and evaluation framework, and delivered a set of technical assistance resources for the grantee organizations to employ this framework. These resources ranged from light intensity (compiling written resources and tools, including an online Performance Measurement Capacity Assessment) to medium (group webinar trainings) to deep engagements (one-on-one consultations).  

While building capacity with individual grantees, we additionally prioritized tackling the inequitable systems and policy that make it far harder for millions of families to achieve economic security.  We facilitated a national community of practice of ten advocacy institutions within the FES portfolio to develop a collective strategy for increasing racial equity around economic security, and to coalesce their work around that strategy.

Together, these efforts would help the Foundation make progress on eradicating intergenerational poverty and leaving children better off. 

Goals & Results

Root Cause’s first step was to confirm the performance measurement framework that would form the basis for our technical assistance, i.e. defining what strong measurement and evaluation capacity looks like. In considering prior Root Cause frameworks and scanning the field, we found that these mostly cater to organizations that provide direct services. Thus we created a more flexible framework that can be used equally well by organizations that focus on broader systems and policy change via activities such as community organizing, research, technical assistance, and others.

A central tenet of this measurement framework was to first specify what an organization aims to achieve, what it wants to learn and why, before diving into the nuts and bolts of individual metrics, measurement tools, databases, etc. We carefully linked this “what” and “why” of measurement to a shared list of outcomes we had previously developed with WKKF to define what family economic security looks like. This central tenet is captured in the framework’s Theory of Change model.

Root Cause then developed and delivered a range of technical assistance resources for the full FES portfolio of more than 50 grantee organizations to employ this framework. These resources began with a custom Measurement and Evaluation Capacity Assessment for organizations to gauge their strengths, improvement areas, and recommended steps to strengthen several core components of their measurement capacity. These components included: Organizational Culture and Commitment, Theory of Change, Evidence-Informed Practice, Measurement System, and Equity Lens. Root Cause also delivered a webinar training series on these core components. We rounded out these TA resources with an online training library and one-on-one consultation.  

Recognizing the opportunity for cross-grantee partnerships, Root Cause and WKKF simultaneously recruited 10 grantee organizations to participate in a racial equity-focused community of practice (CoP). This group included local and national advocacy institutions, think tanks, intermediaries, and direct service providers located from coast to coast. 

Root Cause first facilitated the CoP to define an updated set of outcomes and metrics defining what economic equity looks like for people and families. Using this as an anchor, we worked with the group to frame:

  • The broader conditions that support or inhibit families achieving economic equity
  • The systems and policies that shape those conditions
  • The stakeholder groups that control those systems
  • The improvements that are needed, and priority levers and approaches to move toward those changes. 

Group work included a shared definition of a ‘quality job,’ outlining effective methods to work with employers and local government agencies, and models to mobilize consumers as advocates.

Through this process, the ten CoP members connected the dots between their otherwise distinct roles in advancing economic equity for more families. The organizations mapped their individual work to one collective racial equity strategy, and formed one-on-one partnerships and subgroups and examined their individual roles to better support that strategy.

Community of Practice Participants

(Organization: Program)

  • Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Center for Responsible Lending: Protecting Assets: State and National Strategies to Safeguard Against Abusive Payday Lending and Debt Buying
  • Chicago Community Trust: Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance, Inc.: Supporting the Domestic Care Workforce
  • National Employment Law Project, Inc.: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges to Economic Opportunity and Security through Work in LA, MS and across America
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Inc.: Addressing Racial Segregation In The Restaurant Industry
  • Trust for Conservation Innovation: Project Equity
  • Washington Institute for Financial Security: The Prosperity Agenda: Savings Initiative Pilot
  • Workers Defense Project, Inc.: Building a Better South
Technical Assistance Participants

(Organization: Program)

  • American Academy of Pediatrics: Rural Impact
  • Arizona Community Foundation, Inc.: Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce (GIST): EITC Rapid Response and Policy Development Fund
  • Aspen Institute, Inc. – Financial Security Program: The Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC)
  • Brandon Roberts + Associates, LLC: Working Poor Families Project (WPFP)
  • Center for Economic and Policy Research
  • Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Center for Responsible Lending: Protecting Assets: State and National Strategies to Safeguard Against Abusive Payday Lending and Debt Buying
  • CFLeads: Family Economic Security (FES) Action Alliance
  • Chicago Community Trust: Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance
  • Children’s Services Council of Florida, Inc.: Families’ Ascent To Economic Security (FATES)
  • Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, Inc.
  • Community Labor United, Inc.
  • Compass Working Capital, Inc.: Compass National Network to Integrate Asset-Building into Subsidized Housing
  • Connecticut Association for Human Services: Two Generation Strategies toward Family Economic and Educational Success
  • Corporation for Enterprise Development: Taxpayer Opportunity Network (TON) – Prosperity Now
  • Delaware Department of Health and Social Services: Stand By Me, Financial Empowerment Partnership
  • Economic Mobility Corporation
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • Financial Innovations Center Inc.: Consumer Insights Lab
  • Harlem Business Alliance, Inc.: The Lillian Project
  • Innovate-Educate: Early Childhood Project
  • Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development: Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Asset Building Across Generations
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance, Inc.: Supporting the Domestic Care Workforce
  • National Employment Law Project, Inc.: Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges to Economic Opportunity and Security through Work in LA, MS and across America
  • National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, Inc.: CU Impact
  • National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices: Two-Generation State Policy Learning and Action Network
  • National Skills Coalition: Advancing Equity in Education to Employment
  • Neighborhood Funders Group, Inc.: Working Group on Labor and Community Partnerships & Project Phoenix
  • Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners: The Employer Solution
  • New Venture Fund
  • Philanthropy New York Inc.: Asset Funders Network
  • Prospera Community Development: Sustainable Cooperatives Initiative – for Low Income Latinas, their Families and Communities
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Inc.: Addressing Racial Segregation In The Restaurant Industry
  • Russell Sage Foundation
  • San Diego Housing Commission: 2Gen San Diego
  • Solidago Foundation: The LIFT Field Fund
  • Telamon Corporation: Building Financial Futures
  • The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University: Place-Based Approaches to Promoting Upward Mobility: New Evidence from Big Data
  • Tides Center
  • Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, Inc.: Growing Families
  • Trust for Conservation Innovation: Project Equity
  • University of Southern California: Program for Environmental and Regional Equity
  • University of Texas at Austin: Identifying and Reducing Job Discrimination
  • Washington Institute for Financial SecurityThe Prosperity Agenda: Savings Initiative Pilot
  • Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers: Walker’s Legacy Foundation
  • Workers Defense Project, Inc.: Building a Better South
  • WorkLife Partnership

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About the Partner

W.K. Kellogg Foundation logo

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.