In addition to its major initiatives, the Casey Foundation is working to improve the lives of vulnerable children and families through a variety of projects and investments.
Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare
The Alliance, formed in 2004, is committed to reducing the number and racial disproportionality of children who are unnecessarily removed from their homes and providing the services children and their families need to prevent them from entering the child welfare system. Its membership is comprised of staff from five Casey foundations and related organizations committed to improving the welfare of children and families: the Annie E. Casey Foundation including Casey Family Services; Casey Family Programs; the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; the Marguerite Casey Foundation; and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP).
Journalism Center for Children and Families
The Foundation helped establish the Journalism Center for Children and Families at the University of Maryland's College of Journalism in 1993. The Center helps print and broadcast journalists to be better informed on, and more thoroughly cover, issues affecting vulnerable children. An independent, nonpartisan resource for journalists, the Center has three main activities: a week-long conference on a specific children's issue; an awards program honoring distinguished coverage of disadvantaged children and families; and a resource center for journalists.
Early Childhood and School Readiness
Our vision for early childhood and school readiness is for all families to have high quality, comprehensive, culturally appropriate early childhood services and support—formal and informal—right in their own neighborhoods. Our core objective has been to find the best examples of neighborhood programs that are designed to build the capacity of informal early childhood care providers such as family, friends, and neighbors.
Casey makes it a standard practice to support independent evaluations of our major reform initiatives, which have established a strong base of evidence that helped fuel our case for change and prompted dozens on cities and states to replicate these successful strategies. For more information and resources on the results of our initiative evaluations, visit our Knowledge Center.
Through FAMILIES COUNT, the Casey Foundation celebrates and supports organizations that improve the odds for vulnerable children by helping them have what they need most—strong, capable and economically successful families. The honorees embrace a simple but powerful principle: Children do well when their families do well, and families do better when they live in supportive communities.
Human Services Workforce Initiative
This Casey Foundation Initiative was the first national effort created to address the urgent need to recruit and retain human services workers who have the appropriate training and support to make crucial decisions that affect the most disadvantaged kids and families in the nation. In 2005, the Cornerstone Consulting Group assumed leadership of the initiative from the Casey Foundation, developing a not-for-profit organization, Cornerstones for Kids, to house and manage the project. The initiative defines the "human services workforce" as the frontline staff in child welfare, juvenile justice, child care, youth development, and employment services. Learn more about this initiative and Cornerstones for Kids.
While urban development projects are successful in terms of rising real estate values and commercial activity, many redevelopment policies and practices sustain or intensify the challenges faced by low-income families, moving them further into poverty and isolation. Our approach places families rather than buildings at the heart of urban revitalization efforts. With the right planning, strong tools, adequate compensation and committed partners, it is possible to engage residents in crafting a new vision for their community while creating revitalization efforts that are commercially viable for developers and cities.
Promoting Family Strengthening Through Partnerships with National Nonprofits
Casey has forged partnerships through investments with national nonprofits that enable us to work with influential organizations that have broad membership, significant numbers of affiliates, and highly credible spokespeople on issues related to kids, families, and communities. They help us achieve our goals by building a critical mass of committed champions who are willing to adopt our family strengthening principles, goals, and strategies as part of their work and advocacy. Our current partners include: Alliance for Children and Families, Corporate Voices for Working Families, National Human Services Assembly, Points of Light Foundation, United Way of America, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.
Promoting Family Strengthening Through Partnerships with Public Policy Organizations
By supporting leading national policy organizations, Casey hopes to focus their attention on policies, programs, and practices that strengthen families living in tough neighborhoods and enhance their economic success. These organizations are selected for their capacity to lead change and our assessment of their willingness to make family strengthening a priority on their agenda. They currently include the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities, the National Governors’ Association, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and others.
Promoting Family Strengthening Through Partnerships with Philanthropy
Casey is committed to helping funders already engaged in place-based change and family strengthening efforts to grow and deepen their work. We provide support to small foundations with shared interests and help them to disseminate the insights and lessons that arise from their on-going work. For example, with support from Casey, the Association of Small Foundations developed ten self-directed learning modules related to family and community strengthening in 2006 that engaged representatives from more than 150 small foundations throughout the year.
Rebuilding Communities Initiative
Rebuilding Communities was our first long-term investment designed to demonstrate we can transform troubled neighborhoods into safe, supportive, productive environments for children, youth and families. The Foundation worked in partnership with community-based organizations on comprehensive strategies to reverse social isolation and disinvestment in low-income neighborhoods. Lessons learned here have been incorporated into our current Making Connections initiative. See resources related to the Rebuilding Communities Initiative in the Knowledge Center.
Developed initially as a Casey staff committee, our RESPECT organization has grown to include collaboration with local and national experts committed to ensuring that the Foundation's resources and expertise are marshaled toward fighting racism and promoting equity -- essential elements for fulfilling our mission to help create successful futures for all of America's children and families. Investments made in this area are used to help build and shape Casey's broadening position and knowledge base around issues of equity and diversity and to support the work of partner foundations and organizations seeking to address racial disparities in policies and programs.
Rural Family Economic Success
At the Annie E. Casey Foundation we believe that building more promising futures for vulnerable rural children begins with improving the present circumstances of their parents.The Rural Family Economic Success framework offers strategies to and help families increase their income ("earn it"), stabilize their financial lives, ("keep it") and acquire assets and build wealth ("grow it").
Selected Program Profiles
These 13 grantee profiles capture Casey's efforts to support work that is consistent with our mission, but outside our major strategic initiatives. Through these grants, the Foundation made a number of "bets" on promising people, ideas, and organizations. These profiles explore where the "bets" paid off, sometimes in substantial return on the investment and sometimes more modestly.
Investing in one's mission takes more than just time, effort, and grants. Truly transforming a neighborhood into a rich, thriving community, such as in the Making Connections or Civic Site work, can take an economic catalyst to jump-start development efforts. To this end, we invest part of our endowment funding Program-Related Investments and Mission-Related Deposits as part of a larger social investment strategy.
A new area of focus for the Foundation, social networks studies the human interactions through which we all live our lives. As we understand the impact strong relationships have on isolated families, joining the right people in the right situations can create positive, sustainable, influential connections. See resources in the Knowledge Center that are related to social networks.