Published by: Grant-makers for Education. October 2017, USA. 36 pages.
Author: Lynn Jenkins.
This case study focuses on the work of the Boston Foundation, one of the USA's oldest community foundations. As the case portrays, the foundation has always been committed to educational equity and even played an important role during Boston’s fractious school desegregation era. But the board knew it could do more and needed to do more – the well-being of individuals, families, communities and the city as a whole demanded it.
Accordingly, the board chose a new leader who took the foundation on a bold new path. Rather than stay “behind the scenes” as it had in the past, the Boston Foundation began commissioning rigorous research, publicising the results, and bringing people together to discuss the findings and develop strategies to address needs uncovered by the research. It also began to pursue a policy agenda aligned with its research. The foundation’s new stance was riskier because it meant challenging widely shared myths, revealing unpleasant truths, and taking policy positions that were not always popular. But the foundation’s leaders and staff believed that the magnitude of the equity challenge demanded nothing less.