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Longfield Family Foundation

Designing a common program performance measurement framework for grantees


Longfield Family Foundation


Designing a common program performance measurement framework for grantees


How can a standardized performance measurement framework help nonprofits improve program quality and inform a foundation's grantmaking strategy?


Root Cause’s partnership with the Longfield Family Foundation is based on our shared belief that standardized, accessible information related to program performance is critical – both for nonprofits, so they have a stronger understanding of their relative performance in the field, and for funders, to guide their investment decisions. Funders rely on IRS Form 990s to understand financial performance, but there is no equivalent for program performance.  This project set out to design and test a standardized approach to program performance measurement.

In 2012, with funding from the Longfield Family Foundation, Root Cause conducted a pilot to begin to understand how to conduct independent analyses of non-profit programs on a larger scale. Root Cause partnered with the State Street Foundation to provide a robust analysis to a cohort of grantees focused on youth career development. Through the pilot, Root Cause analyzed the programs on standardized, evidence-based indicators and benchmarked them against their peers to provide them with a better understanding of their performance as it relates to other organizations in the field.

Goals & Results

Participating programs found the in-depth analysis of their youth career development programs to be valuable at a program, leadership, and board level.  The analysis was delivered in the form of a report that benchmarked their program on over 100 evidence-based indicators of quality.  Beyond the analysis, many of the programs expressed their interest for deeper peer-to-peer learning as well as access to resources and tools to help them to take action on the recommendations provided in the analysis.

The Root Cause team also focused on testing and learning about benchmarking process.  Its team solicited input and feedback throughout the process to learn what grantees valued from the process as well as what could be improved or added.  Based on the success of the pilot and the feedback, Root Cause launched the Peer Performance Exchange (PPE) in March 2013 to expand on this project.

About the Partner

Longfield Family Foundation

The Longfield Family Foundation is committed to improving Boston Public Schools. By investing in innovative and effective programs and schools, the Foundation aims to enhance the educational opportunities of children in lasting and replicable ways.

The Foundation’s objectives include:

  • Support community-based schools that demonstrate that children from all backgrounds can achieve high standards;
  • Support programs and organizations that aim to enhance public understanding of the need to reevaluate our current education systems;
  • Enhance the capacity of partner schools to make school improvements via financial support and direct partnerships with school staff;
  • Invest in innovative methods of educating students and promote the replication of successful models; and
  • Support the development of academic outcomes that promote student learning.

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