Redefining Expectations for Place-based Philanthropy

Katelyn P. Mack, M.S., FSG; Hallie Preskill, Ph.D., FSG; James Keddy M.A., The California Endowment; Moninder-Mona K. Jhawar, M.P.H., The California Endowment

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This article discusses how The California Endowment has used a midcourse strategic review to refine Building Healthy Communities, aiming to provide insight for other place-based initiatives and to add to the body of knowledge about how to support transformative community change.

With Building Healthy Communities, the endowment is taking a new approach to community change using a dual strategy to build community capacity in 14 places and scale the impact of its local efforts through statewide policy advocacy and communications. In 2013, it commissioned a strategic review to reflect on what it has learned from the first three years of this innovation in place-based work.

Through interviews, focus groups, surveys, and document review, examples have emerged of how this unique approach is contributing to community change. The review also surfaced tensions created by the design and implementation of the strategy that could impede progress.

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