Philanthropic Leaders Achieve Equitable Outcomes With Results Count

Posted April 17, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A group of nonprofit workers chat and organize around a table.

Lead­ers at the Melville Char­i­ta­ble Trust, Dal­las Foun­da­tion and Robin Hood Foun­da­tion are using the skills and tools of Results Count® to improve the lives of chil­dren, youth, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Lever­ag­ing the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, these phil­an­thropic exec­u­tives are infus­ing their orga­ni­za­tions with data-dri­ven approach­es to achiev­ing equi­ty. The lead­ers are alum­ni of Casey’s Chil­dren and Fam­i­ly Fel­low­ship®, the Foundation’s sig­na­ture Results Count pro­gram, which devel­ops lead­ers’ con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence to guide and sus­tain major sys­tem reforms and com­mu­ni­ty change initiatives.

Results Count in Philanthropy

Susan Thomas, Pres­i­dent, Melville Char­i­ta­ble Trust

A vet­er­an of large-scale com­mu­ni­ty change efforts, Susan Thomas joined the Melville Char­i­ta­ble Trust in 2014 and became its pres­i­dent in 2020. Under her lead­er­ship, the Con­necti­cut-based foun­da­tion has broad­ened its invest­ments in sys­tems change, pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy to focus on the root caus­es of home­less­ness and unsta­ble hous­ing, in pur­suit of mea­sur­able, equi­table results.

Tar­get­ing the com­mu­ni­ties most affect­ed by home­less­ness and hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty, the Trust has defined a long-term pop­u­la­tion-lev­el result: All Black, Indige­nous and Latino/​a/​x peo­ple with extreme­ly low incomes will live in safe, sta­ble, afford­able hous­ing in neigh­bor­hoods that allow them to thrive.”

The Trust used fac­tor analy­sis, a Results Count tool, to iden­ti­fy the three root caus­es of home­less­ness and hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty most impact­ing these populations:

  • lack of equi­table and rapid path­ways to decent, per­ma­nent hous­ing for peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing or at risk of homelessness;
  • insuf­fi­cient income and assets that cre­ate hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty and expand the racial wealth gap; and
  • dis­crim­i­na­to­ry hous­ing, zon­ing and land use poli­cies that per­pet­u­ate hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty and homelessness.

Aligned Action

The Trust devel­oped its new frame­work in part­ner­ship with grantees and peo­ple work­ing in the field. Through a series of round­ta­bles, it also engaged peo­ple direct­ly expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness and hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty to help reimag­ine its grant­mak­ing. These Imag­i­na­tion Ses­sions’ were key to inform­ing our strat­e­gy,” says Thomas. The entire jour­ney took a year, and we rolled out our new grant­mak­ing frame­work in 2021.”

Learn more about Results Count

Part­ner­ing with oth­ers whose work is aligned with the Trust’s focus on racial equi­ty is a key Results Count strat­e­gy it employed. We col­lab­o­rate with orga­ni­za­tions that have a clear com­mit­ment to improv­ing the lives of peo­ple who have been the most exclud­ed from eco­nom­ic sta­bil­i­ty and wealth build­ing,” says Thomas. By part­ner­ing with oth­ers to address these root caus­es, we believe that over time we will see shifts in long-term outcomes.”

The Trust is work­ing with its grantee part­ners to view their pro­grams through a results lens. Although the Trust does not assist grantees in col­lect­ing data, it has designed a report­ing struc­ture that allows grantees to frame and present short‑, mid- and long-term mea­sures of progress. An inde­pen­dent enti­ty will sur­vey the grantees to pro­vide the Trust with frank feed­back on what is, or is not, work­ing with the new report­ing emphasis.

Matthew Ran­daz­zo, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Dal­las Foundation

After a near­ly 20-year career work­ing to advance edu­ca­tion­al equi­ty and improve col­lege readi­ness for stu­dents of col­or and those from low socioe­co­nom­ic back­grounds, Matthew Ran­daz­zo became pres­i­dent and CEO of the Dal­las Foun­da­tion in May 2018.

Estab­lished in 1929, it was the first com­mu­ni­ty foun­da­tion in Texas and is well-respect­ed. And yet, until Randazzo’s arrival, the foun­da­tion did not have a clear frame­work for results or a focus on clos­ing known equi­ty gaps through­out Dal­las Coun­ty, whose pop­u­la­tion is approx­i­mate­ly two-thirds peo­ple of color.

Clos­ing Equi­ty Gaps

At one of his first meet­ings with the foundation’s board, Ran­daz­zo made a pre­sen­ta­tion on a grant­mak­ing fund of the foun­da­tion. Though its stat­ed mis­sion was to fur­ther the advance­ment of the Black com­mu­ni­ty in Dal­las, he not­ed that there had nev­er been a Black per­son in a grant­mak­ing role in the fund’s 30-year his­to­ry. More­over, he sug­gest­ed a pause in this fund’s giv­ing until the foun­da­tion appoint­ed mem­bers of the local Black com­mu­ni­ty to help over­see its grant activ­i­ty. The board agreed.

Ran­daz­zo recalls that this board meet­ing was real­ly a gal­va­niz­ing moment for us as an insti­tu­tion to say: We must lean into equi­ty, we must lean into a results ori­en­ta­tion and we must be con­nect­ed to the com­mu­ni­ty in a way that com­mu­ni­ty foun­da­tions should be but sel­dom are.’”

Work­ing with con­sul­tants, the foun­da­tion iden­ti­fied 43 points in a Dal­las resident’s life where some sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­ni­ty inequity begins and per­sists. These points were con­cen­trat­ed in five broad areas:

  • edu­ca­tion;
  • health;
  • hous­ing;
  • crim­i­nal jus­tice; and
  • civic and vot­er participation.

Respond­ing to the data, the foun­da­tion launched the Racial Equi­ty Fund. Its pur­pose is clos­ing equi­ty gaps from womb to tomb” for Black and Lati­no Dal­las residents.

The inter­nal result Ran­daz­zo and the foun­da­tion pur­sued was some­what sim­ple,” he says. Build a diverse insti­tu­tion that reflects the com­mu­ni­ty we serve.” This goal has dri­ven hir­ing deci­sions, pro­mo­tions and appoint­ments to the board. Today, 40% of the foundation’s board mem­bers are peo­ple of col­or, and more than half of the foundation’s 25 staff mem­bers are peo­ple of color.

Notable Results Count Concepts

One of the most mean­ing­ful Results Count con­cepts that Ran­daz­zo learned dur­ing his time as a Casey Chil­dren and Fam­i­ly Fel­low was increased under­stand­ing of human behav­iors in groups. I think the group rela­tions piece has been huge­ly impor­tant in terms of launch­ing a rig­or­ous change man­age­ment process and hold­ing stead­fast to this idea of a shared result,” he says.

Anoth­er Results Count skill Ran­daz­zo has found help­ful is using the process known as B/ART, which stands for Bound­ary of Author­i­ty, Role and Task. With B/ART, indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions can define their con­tri­bu­tion to a result and what must be asked of oth­ers occu­py­ing dif­fer­ent roles to achieve that result. As a phil­an­thropic inter­me­di­ary between donors and grantees, the Dal­las Foun­da­tion is exer­cis­ing its for­mal and infor­mal author­i­ty to achieve results.

Chris Caru­so, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor for School-Age Chil­dren, Robin Hood

Chris Caru­so joined Robin Hood in 2021 after serv­ing as senior exec­u­tive direc­tor of the New York City Depart­ment of Education’s Office of Com­mu­ni­ty Schools. Dur­ing that time, he worked with the Casey Foun­da­tion to build the capac­i­ty of his team to apply Results Count approach­es, while lead­ing the devel­op­ment of a city­wide sys­tem of 300 com­mu­ni­ty schools that inte­grat­ed aca­d­e­mics, health and social ser­vices for 150,000 stu­dents. Accord­ing to inde­pen­dent research, these schools improved stu­dents’ aca­d­e­m­ic and social outcomes.

After leav­ing city gov­ern­ment, Caru­so was drawn to Robin Hood because of its met­rics-dri­ven approach to grant­mak­ing, which helps the orga­ni­za­tion bet­ter under­stand the effects of its invest­ments. The foun­da­tion seeks to put New York City res­i­dents on a per­ma­nent path­way out of pover­ty, and Caruso’s over­all goal is to sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the num­ber of stu­dents who grad­u­ate from high school and are pre­pared for col­lege and a career.

Caruso’s grant­mak­ing is ground­ed in the knowl­edge that stu­dents who grad­u­ate from high school and col­lege will have sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er future earn­ings. Caru­so is using the Results Count frame­work to break down some of the larg­er edu­ca­tion­al met­rics. For exam­ple, research has shown that a high school diplo­ma will boost future earn­ings by $8,000 per year. As part of this process, the foun­da­tion works with grantees to set mea­sur­able goals aligned with mobil­i­ty mile­stones that are based on lon­gi­tu­di­nal data and pre­dic­tive of future eco­nom­ic stability.

Reduc­ing Disparities

A spe­cif­ic focus of Caruso’s grant­mak­ing is decreas­ing edu­ca­tion­al dis­par­i­ties between Black and Lati­no stu­dents and their white and Asian coun­ter­parts. By dis­ag­gre­gat­ing data, Robin Hood can see the effec­tive­ness of its grants on both the entire pop­u­la­tion of stu­dents served and the racial sub­groups fac­ing the great­est barriers.

Caru­so and his team are revers­ing the tra­di­tion­al phil­an­thropic dynam­ic of poten­tial grantees fram­ing their work in terms of a foundation’s stat­ed pro­gram goals. Instead, Robin Hood cen­ters its grant­mak­ing on the expe­ri­ences and desired results of its com­mu­ni­ty partners.

They are clos­er to the ground, and they are work­ing direct­ly with schools and with kids and fam­i­lies,” says Caru­so. We are sup­port­ing their youth devel­op­ment and edu­ca­tion efforts, with the basic under­stand­ing that their work is aligned with our goals.”

Cen­tral to these efforts is align­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of mul­ti­ple part­ners. If a grantee works in a school, the foun­da­tion wants to know that its prin­ci­pal and staff are work­ing toward a shared result. We know that a suc­cess­ful grant or part­ner has to be aligned with oth­er enti­ties,” says Caruso.

Read about anoth­er for­mer Fel­low in philanthropy

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families