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Enhancing Support for Learning and Evaluation at The Kresge Foundation

FSG worked collaboratively with The Kresge Foundation Program and Social Investment Practice departments to develop strategic learning and evaluation systems, and to provide insight into how the foundation could enhance its support for learning and evaluation.

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. FSG and Kresge worked together to design strategic learning and evaluation systems to help staff take a more intentional approach to gathering and reflecting on data to inform their programs and practices. FSG also provided coaching to help the foundation implement learning and evaluation plans.

While the issues and strategies of each of the foundation’s programs and practice areas are distinct, teams share some cross-cutting practices, such as integrating social investments and strategic communications into their work. An important part of developing the strategic learning and evaluation systems was to articulate how each team would assess progress toward the foundation’s overarching goal of “expanding opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities.”

The foundation hoped to create a process that would allow teams to develop robust learning and evaluation strategies that used a common framework, but were also tailored to support each team’s unique objectives.

We now have a shared language for talking about strategy, learning, and evaluation. Through our partnership with FSG, we’ve made big gains toward creating a more intentional culture of learning.

Chera Reid, PhD, Director of Strategic Learning, Research, and Evaluation, The Kresge Foundation

As part of the process to create team-level strategic learning and evaluation systems, FSG conducted in-person workshops and spoke with each program team over the course of 5 months. Each system included:

  • A robust theory of change, including core assumptions and values.
  • Key outcomes (short-, intermediate-, and long-term).
  • Strategic learning questions that articulated what the program hopes to learn in the next 12 to 36 months.
  • A set of learning and evaluation activities to support team reflection and gather critical information on progress.
  • A roadmap for implementing the framework, with a focus on key activities in the next 12 months.

FSG also provided Kresge leaders with recommendations for foundation structures and processes that will help the organization strengthen its approach to learning and evaluation. Recommendations included targets for financial and human resources, grants management, communications, and knowledge management systems.

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a private, $3.6 billion national foundation that works to expand opportunities for low-income people in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit.