In recent years I have been privileged to work alongside a number of foundations and nonprofits, helping them to collect, synthesize, and share knowledge that matters.
Here is a taste of that work.
Early Childhood Care & Education
Over the course of 18 months, Think Twice, in partnership with Candid, managed a collaborative effort to support the Heising-Simons Foundation’s rethinking of its early childhood care and education strategy. A key project goal was to provide the foundation with valuable context while also contributing to improved data sharing and learning amongst funders focused on ECE.
This project included: the development of an interactive map showing the landscape of funding for ECE in the U.S., an evidence review of specific ECE interventions, planned learning sessions with the program team throughout the process, engagement with an advisory group of practitioners, and a public webinar sharing findings and freely available tools.
Working closely with a cross-functional team of program officers, issue experts, nonprofits, and interactive designers, I managed an ongoing effort to help The Rockefeller Foundation synthesize existing implementation-based evidence on the use of market approaches to freshwater management. Together we didn't just help inform Rockefeller's investment decisions but also created a set of publicly available tools to help other funders and practitioners do the same.
It turns out that there is no simple cure for what ails small-scale fisheries around the globe. Instead their success depends on a number of interconnected factors and interdependent players. This project, which includes a publicly available interactive visualization, digital collection, and synthesis report resulted from The Rockefeller Foundation's own effort to understand what's worked and what hasn't for the fisheries on which so many very poor people rely. As the project lead for Foundation Center, the project also provided an opportunity for me to develop and test an approach to synthesis that prioritized the inclusion of practice-based evidence and the sharing of our results as a public good.
As co-founder and co-director of IssueLab for 10+ years, this project has been an incredibly rich experience in the design and development of open knowledge management systems. Since its inception IssueLab has grown to include more than 25,000 resources authored by social sector organizations, and is freely available for use by anyone.
As a start-up organization focused on shifting social sector norms around how and why we collect evidence, Project Evident deeply values the importance of sharing what it is learning. So, after completing its own strategic planning process the organization engaged Think Twice to help design a framework for ongoing knowledge management and learning.
Based on a diagnostic process that included in-depth interviews, a review of slack and google drive content, and the shadowing of team meetings, I was able to make a set of recommendations that aligned both with Project Evident's values and the realities of its fast-paced growth.
Fresh Produce Fund
The Association of Arizona Food Banks supports an extensive network of food banks and service agencies across the state of Arizona. The diversity of this network is remarkable, with some agencies simply distributing food out of a church basement while others operate as fully staffed independent 501c3s with a range of programs and services. Although AAFB is not formally a grantmaker they found themselves in the position of granting funds to local agencies to build their capacity for distributing fresh produce.
The challenge for which AAFB enlisted my help was to design a grantmaking process that would be inclusive, fair, balanced, and accountable to both AAFB's funders and the organizations seeking funding. Through a series of interviews with food bank staff, service agencies, and AAFB board members, we were able to design a process that met that challenge, while also selecting and implementing a grants management software that would enable AAFB staff to take on this new role.
Each year foundations make an average of $5.4 billion in grants towards knowledge production. What holds them back from sharing more of this knowledge as a public good? This article in the Foundation Review, co-authored with Lisa Brooks, explains some of the most common obstacles to knowledge sharing at foundations, as well as a vision for a different kind of knowledge leadership in philanthropy.
As one of the primary leads on this project I was deeply involved in designing and implementing this multi-year, sector-wide, change intiative. The effort, encouraging foundations to more openly share the knowledge they fund and create, included the design and development of an open repository for foundation funded evaluation and the crafting of a "manifesto" for open knowledge in the social sector.
Race and Policing
In the summer of 2016 media attention was squarely focused on the long history of police bias and brutality towards black Americans. But the insights and expertise of nonprofits who have been working on this issue for years was conspicuously missing. Working closely with my colleagues at IssueLab, we were able to quickly pull together and share this collection with the goal of helping to inform not just policy and funding decisions but also the conversation that’s happening around the kitchen table.
As The Atlantic Philanthropies began to sunset it's funding the foundation was concerned that the knowledge it had gained from years of investment in the field of palliative care would continue to be available to practitioners. Towards this goal I led an effort to collect, index, and make available the extensive body of literature that Atlantic's grantees had produced on the subject of access to palliative care. In order to make the collection more useful to practitioners and researchers, I also coded the reports for the settings in which care was being provided, the common barriers identified in the literature, and the recommended solutions that were cited in the 100+ reports and white papers.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch about your questions, discoveries, or confusion.
Gabriela Fitz | | 773.882.8250 | skype: gabofitz |
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[The photos on this site are part of Gabi's side-gig in the art of noticing.]
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