Funding to benefit under-resourced communities inevitably raises questions of power. Improving the lives of those on the downside of power necessarily entails increasing their own agency and ability to change the rules to better reflect their needs and interests, which ultimately benefits all of us. It also entails re-examining the ways funders use their own power and privileged status, and the ways they relate to marginalized communities.
– National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Over the past four years, Hello Insight (formerly Algorhythm) has had the honor of working alongside the Nellie Mae Education Fund (NMEF) to evaluate and learn from their youth and community organizing grantees. Our overarching philosophy and approach to these evaluations were highly participatory and focused on targeted and sustainable learning. The goal was to empower the foundation staff, adult allies, and young organizers by equipping them with tools and learning processes to effectively tell their stories with data. The core elements included deep stakeholder participation using playful methods such as storyboards, mapping, drawing, and games that center young people while gathering data from a range of sources and perspectives.
The learning journey was humbling, and a great deal was learned about the impacts of true partnership between one foundation and its grantees. Our evaluation processes provided youth and community stakeholders with the time and space necessary to lift up critical questions and concerns for the foundation, as NMEF examined their own power and privilege as well as the ways they related to young people. Ultimately, these dialogues played an important part in transforming NMEF and the way it partners with young people.
The Hello Insight team was deeply affected by these courageous conversations and is honored to share the stories and findings from these studies.
The Youth Leadership Institute (YLI): Evaluation Report is the most recent publication in a series of four. It includes key tips and strategies for anyone hosting youth-led meetings or convenings, especially funders who want to effectively engage young people. The objective of this report is to share key lessons and ignite new conversations about building, sharing, and wielding power—practices shown to benefit funders who value community engagement and want deeper partnerships, as well as those who value community-centered solutions and want greater impact.Read the Report
Youth Organizing: A Model For Change illustrates various models of youth work, such as youth service, youth development, leadership, civic engagement, and youth organizing. It takes an in-depth look at youth organizing and highlights key attributes that promote authentic voice and foster sustainable change in schools, communities, and the nation.Read the Report
Supporting Youth Organizing: A Tale of Unexpected Insights tells the story of NMEF’s journey of unexpected insights they have learned from their grantees on issues most important in the lives of young people. This brief is written for funders who support youth organizing groups or those considering doing so. The insights shared through this brief can help anyone trying to develop effective youth-adult partnerships.Read the Report
Building Power: One Foundation’s Story of Funding Grassroots Organizing and Engagement takes a deep look at one foundation’s story of funding authentic grassroots organizing and engagement. It highlights the specific opportunities and challenges of working with community members and young people. This report will foster a new appreciation for the efforts necessary to support authentic participation: building a deep trust in local community partners (both youth and adult) and increasing one’s acceptance of discomfort and ambiguity. The goal of this report is to create a dialogue about what it takes to effectively and equitably support grassroots organizing and advocacy.Read the Report