Across the country, foundations are increasingly shifting their focus from simple metrics to long-term, sustainable systems change. Now, more than ever, philanthropy is uniquely positioned to help influence and shift policies and practices to support healthy children and equitable communities.
A 2020 report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Policy Influence: What Foundations are Doing and Why, revealed that most foundation and nonprofit leaders believe influencing policy is an essential lever for advancing meaningful change. Organizations like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) are having critical conversations to offer insights into new ways of advancing meaningful policy and systems change, to ensure every child has the opportunity to build the life they deserve.
Supporting effective policies
Good policy isn’t built overnight. It’s informed, shaped and analyzed by communities and policy change experts to ensure it will have long-term, positive outcomes for children and communities.
“Children are at the heart of everything we do at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,” Robb Gray, director of Policy & Advocacy, told the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
“Because public policy impacts every aspect of a child’s life, policy engagement is central to our work. …The primary way our foundation supports policy engagement is at the community level. We find that when communities have a hand in creating, negotiating, and implementing solutions, the policies are more relevant, more likely to be embraced, and ultimately more sustainable.”
To advance effective, sustainable policy for children, WKKF supports communities and grantees to:
- Facilitate the inclusion of those most directly affected as policy change objectives are selected;
- Support opportunities for grantees to inform policy by drawing on their knowledge, experiences, and values;
- Share and build on the lessons of supported work with community, institutional and public leaders by integrating policy work, evaluation, communication and systemic change strategies; and
- Leverage WKKF investments and shared knowledge from grantees to demonstrate and sustain effective policy alternatives, maintain effective policies and develop new leadership.
Community voices, insights, wisdom and experiences are essential for building policies to center the needs, goals and dreams of children. Effective, sustainable policies are evidence-centered solutions built by and for diverse communities. Children need more than promises for a better future. They need effective action — and effective policies — to build the healthy, equitable future they deserve.