For members of the Impact Assessment Committee, the announcement of this year’s Grant Award winners is particularly exciting, as these five new grantee organizations will become the subject of our work for the next three years. Over the course of our three site visits, we will monitor the progress and the impact of our new grants, and communicate what we learn back to the Foundation’s membership. During this process we will forge deeper relationships with the Executive Directors and the staff at these nonprofits and develop more meaningful partnerships with our grantees. Growing these connections is essential to our success as grantmakers.
While each phase of our Pooled Funds Grants process by necessity happens at a rapid speed, the IAC phase allows us the opportunity to go deep. Having taken the “Will I be selected?” pressure off, our site visits have a different feel. At this point, the grant has been approved and some or all of our funds have been granted. Our mission is now to assess the impact in a way that feels supportive while also learning about any unexpected challenges or changes in the way the funds are being used.
And challenges do happen. This year we saw a higher than usual amount of staff turnover affect several of our grantees. We saw changes in the political climate result in a shift in goals, and we saw unexpected budget cuts force some rapid adjustment. On the positive side, we very frequently heard that our grant enabled grantees to successfully apply for funding from other donors. Our members often become long-term supporters and advocates for the organizations that they have learned about.
The presence of Executive Directors of past grantees on our IAC committee is another element in our “secret sauce” that allows us to forge deep connections. Our site visit teams are typically comprised of two Foundation members and one ED from an organization that received a WA Women’s Fnd grant more than three years ago. For our members, the EDs play a key role in helping us gain insight into the challenges of running a nonprofit. For the Directors of the organizations being visited, having a fellow ED participate as part of the assessment team reinforces the message that we come in a supportive role. As an example of how these connections can develop, the Executive Director of Seattle Globalist (a 2017 grantee and new addition to the staff) recently reached out for some advice to the ED of Bike Works (a 2003 grantee and current member of the IAC team) shortly after our site visit. These sorts of interactions exemplify the cross-pollination that can happen among the recipients of our grants — yet another benefit of becoming a member of the WA Women’s Fnd grantee family.
Through site visits and annual reports, we hear stories from our grantees about their triumphs and challenges. We share these monthly in our Friday newsletters, highlight them on our Facebook page, and also would like to share some recent updates with you here.
Team Read, 2016 Education grantee
Team Read continues to pair teens with 2nd and 3rd graders who have the greatest need for intensive reading support. By hiring a Summer Program Coordinator funded by the WA Women’s Fdn grant, Team Read was able to assess and improve their summertime tutoring support for students, strengthen their partnership with Seattle Public Library, and revise the summer program training for its teen coaches.
Path With Art, 2015 Arts & Culture grantee
Path With Art received international recognition last year for its pioneering work using art to bring healing to people experiencing homelessness and recovering from trauma. “This class helped me find a voice. I feel as if I exist. I am real and I am human.” Our grant has enabled Path with Art to incorporate Salesforce software into their operations in order to function more efficiently and boost their fundraising.
Coastal Harvest, 2016 Human Services grantee
The number of food deliveries that Coastal Harvest makes to local pantries has doubled since our grant which funded the purchase of a box truck. Food deliveries to pantries are now twice as frequent, conveying 240,000 pounds of food per month, and include many more fresh options. Greater varieties of fresh produce have not only enhanced diets, but have been an opportunity for nutrition education as well.
Encompass Northwest, 2016 Health grantee
In order to serve a growing demand for Parent Child Interactive Therapy and reach a broader geographic area, Encompass NW purchased a van with our grant funds which has been outfitted to create a Mobile Therapy Unit. At the time of our site visit, staff turnover had prevented it from being in use full time, but plans are for it to be on the road 5 days a week to serve families who lack the ability to access a clinic. “We are the buzz” says their ED, and noted that other service providers have approached them to learn how to start mobile therapy programs. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this video of the van in action.
Friends of the San Juans, 2015 Environment grantee
While our grant was originally intended to support the effort to obtain a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area designation for the Salish Sea, Friends of the San Juans has responded to a changed political climate by shifting its strategy, though not its ultimate aim of ensuring safe shipping though our shared waters with Canada. Our committee was impressed with FSJ’s nimbleness in continuing to pursue its objective of reducing the risks to the Salish Sea caused by increased international transport of oil. Their ED has become a key player in elevating the conversation about our region’s vulnerability and to coming up with the most effective, legally binding protective measures to mitigate those risks.
The Impact Assessment Committee’s charge is to “monitor the progress of Foundation Pooled Grants, communicate the impact of these grants to the Foundation’s membership, provide feedback to the Grant Committee and seek to strengthen the relationships with the Foundation’s grantees.” Interested in serving on the Impact Assessment Committee? Openings will be publicized in the fall.