Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "Suggest an Addition"). For questions or assistance, please contact feedback@barrfoundation.org.
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Strengthening Capacity and Equity in New England Evaluation

August 10, 2021

This report presents results from the Strengthening Capacity and Equity in New England Evaluation (SCENE) study. The SCENE study was conducted between August 2020 and August 2021 by a research group at Boston College with funding from the Barr Foundation.The purpose was three-fold: (1) to characterize evaluation providers, evaluation practices, and evaluators working in the New England area; (2) to explore whether and how evaluators address inequities and advance equity; and (3) to identify ways to strengthen capacity and equity among evaluators within the region. By providing an initial assessment to inform future capacity building and learning initiatives, we aim to inform regional evaluation practitioners and commissioners interested in advancing equity in evaluation. Findings are particularly relevant to local affiliates of the American Evaluation Association, including: Greater Boston Evaluators Network, Vermont Evaluation Network, Connecticut Area Evaluators' Network, Maine Evaluation Society. We also sought to address gaps in the evaluation literature regarding what equity and equity-focused evaluation mean and look like in practice. We plan to submit study results for publication/dissemination in academic journals.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness

Opportunities to Invest in Community Resilience for COVID and Climate

May 6, 2021

The reality that COVID-19 was a pandemic became clear by mid-March 2020. Immediately, grassroots, community-led groups organized mutual aid and other COVID response efforts to bridge the gaps created by lack of preparedness as well as inadequate response on the part of the state and federal governments.The Barr Foundation is interested in learning how these community based responses were organized, how they operated, and what the network ecology looked like in Boston, Chelsea, and Revere. The overall goal is to understand how community-focused and community-led responses like these can be built upon and reinforced to support equity-centered climate resilience.

Teacher Leadership in Massachusetts: Roles, Opportunities and Gaps

November 1, 2019

At the request of the Barr Foundation, and with their support, Education First researched the teacher leadership landscape in Massachusetts.The goals of this research were to: understand the breadth of existing programs and opportunities available to Massachusetts teacher leaders, identify where and how these opportunities link together to create pathways for teacher leaders, and pinpoint gaps in the current ecosystem.Process: This research was informed by a review of the national research on teacher leadership, interviews with local and national leaders, and focus groups with Massachusetts leaders.This document is a summary of that research, and includes one potential framework to think about pathways for teacher leaders. It does not represent a comprehensive view of every role and opportunity available to teacher leaders in Massachusetts, and captures only a snapshot in time. The tools in this document can be used in whatever ways are most helpful to those in the field.

Pathways to Climate Resilience: Strategies for the Greater Boston Area

August 28, 2019

In the summer of 2018, the Barr Foundation contracted with the Consensus Building Institute (CBI) to conduct a scan of highlights of climate resilience activities in the greater Boston area and to identify opportunities for ramping up those activities in coming years. The CBI team reviewed relevant technical reports and interviewed 36 individuals who work climate resilience.The ideas described in this document are the research team's synthesis of the broad knowledge about resilience activities today from the expertise of those with whom the team spoke and corresponded. The team would like to thank all of them for their insights and wisdom.

Talent Justice Report: Investing in Equity in the Nonprofit Workforce

May 29, 2019

Produced by Fund the People and the Center for Urban and Racial Equity, this comprehensive report offers important findings on the challenges and opportunities of investing in intersectional racial equity in the U.S. nonprofit workforce.With over 12 million paid workers, nonprofits employ the third largest U.S. workforce. This means 1 in 10 people work in the nonprofit sector. Despite its size and impact, nonprofits face a chronic deficit of investment in their staff.To further complicate matters, the nonprofit workforce struggles to attract, retain, and support people from racially, ethnically, and otherwise diverse backgrounds to build a robust and durable talent pipeline. Our research gathered and analyzed data from over 1,400 survey responses, 3 focus groups, 20 interviews, and a literature review.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness

Engaging Boards and Trustees in Strategic Learning: A Toolkit

January 17, 2019

Effecting social change in a rapidly changing political environment and an increasingly interconnected world requires foundations to adopt a learning orientation. Without continuous learning, grantmakers—and thus boards and trustees—are unaware about what is working where, with whom, and why, as well as what changes or refinements are needed in order to achieve the grantmakers' desired results.This toolkit provides a fresh set of resources for grantmaker CEOs, evaluation staff, and senior leaders to use to engage their boards and trustees in conversations about the importance of strategic learning in their decision-making and deliberation processes.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness

Funding the News: Foundations and Nonprofit Media

June 14, 2018

The analysis of more than 6,500 grant makers suggests the money they are pumping into journalism-related ventures is neither advancing the media's democratic function nor filling the gap left by rampant newspaper closures.

Dancing to the Top: How Collective Action Revitalized Arts Education in Boston

May 5, 2016

This case study of the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion (BPS-AE), a program supported by Barr Foundation and others, examines the expansion of quality in-school arts instruction as a means to increase equity of opportunity in Boston Public Schools.

Leadership New England: Essential Shifts for a Thriving Nonprofit Sector

June 29, 2015

The ongoing, against-the-odds resiliency of the nonprofit sector in New England and across the country is remarkable to see. But as this study shows, it is a very fragile resiliency. The sector's success and impact continue to rely on unsustainable trends, including: overworked, underpaid leaders and staff; a never-ending fight to balance budgets and build stable organizations; a lack of investment in professional and leadership development and organizational infrastructure; and a continuing struggle to work out the optimal role for nonprofit boards. Nonprofits in New England and across the nation will continue to play a vital part in building stronger communities and a more just and equitable society. But the sector's resiliency is at its outer limit.As this report sets out to show, it is time to shift how we think about nonprofits in New England and consider what supports they need to succeed. To the extent we do so, we will be able to predict with certainty that New England's nonprofits can remain resilient and effective well into the future -- and can continue to contribute to the vibrancy of our communities, our people and our region.This report profiles New England's nonprofits and their leaders and recommends three shifts in that will help the sector become more sustainable and healthy.

Only Connect: How an Investment in Relationships Among Social Change Leaders Is Changing Them, Their Organizations, and Their City

June 18, 2013

Key Points· After years of leading social-sector organizations in an environment where competition is more the norm than collaboration, many gifted leaders are near burnout, unable to maximize their gifts. Since 2005, the Barr Fellowship has been changing that in Boston.· This network of leaders, created by the Barr Foundation, is based on the hypothesis that recognizing talented leaders and investing in their personal growth and connections with one another will result in individual, collective, and city transformation.· A longtime funder of networks, Barr designed the fellowship as a "connectivity" network, where collective actions and shared agendas might emerge but would not be imposed. In this way, the fellowship exemplifies what has been described as "ambidextrous philanthropy" – rooted in strategy yet also in values; focused on outcomes, yet also responsive.· This article describes the theory of change; strategy; evaluation methodology (including network mapping); results – for Barr Fellows, their organizations, and Boston; and how the program fits within an approach to philanthropy that embraces the long view. It discusses implications for funders interested in supporting connectivity networks.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness

Creative Disruption: Sabbaticals for Capacity Building and Leadership Development in the Nonprofit Sector

January 20, 2010

Based on a survey, examines the outcomes of sabbaticals for nonprofit leaders, their organizations, leadership transitions, and sponsoring foundations, as well as lessons learned and challenges. Includes case studies.

Catalytic Change: Lessons Learned from the Racial Justice Grantmaking Assessment

May 1, 2009

ARC and PRE designed the Racial Justice Grantmaking Assessment to help foundation staff and leaders understand the benefits of being explicit about racial equity, and to determine the degree to which their work is advancing racial justice. This report is based on the pilot process, and is intended to share insights into some of the barriers within the philanthropic sector that stand in the way of achieving racial justice outcomes. It is organized into five segments:This introduction, which provides brief profiles of ARC and PRE, and of the assessment team;A description of the assessment process, including definitions, assumptions, and methodology;An overview of the assessments of the Consumer Health Foundation and the Barr Foundation, including brief profiles of each, summary findings, recommendations, and impacts to date;Lessons learned from the pilot process by the ARC-PRE assessment team; andAppendices with more detailed findings, recommendations, and initial impacts for each foundation.

Nonprofit Sector Effectiveness

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