An End to Business as Usual: Nurturing Authentic Partnerships to Create Lasting Community Change

An End to Business as Usual: Nurturing Authentic Partnerships to Create Lasting Community Change

A place-based initiative designed to integrate best practices in adult-child interactions into early-learning systems can support inclusive community change — but also requires shifts in grantmakers' mindsets and away from traditional foundation orthodoxies, a report from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation finds. Published in the Foundation Review, the report, An End to Business as Usual: Nurturing Authentic Partnerships to Create Lasting Community Change, offers insights from Packard Foundation program officers who are implementing Starting Smart and Strong, a ten-year initiative launched in 2015 in Fresno, Oakland, and San Jose to develop, test, and scale solutions that support parents, caregivers, and educators and ensure that young children are healthy and school-ready. To foster genuine place-based partnerships with communities, program officers need to play the multiple roles of "thought partner, confidante, and funder," the authors write, and that entails holding honest, open, ongoing conversations with stakeholders and being mindful of perceived and shifting power dynamics in the process of co-creating strategies with grantees to sustain lasting change. Three years into the initiative, lessons learned include the importance of soliciting program design input from grantees so they, in turn, can amplify constituent voice; seeking expert advice; and not being afraid to learn from mistakes.

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