Reflections from Tricia and Jeff Raikes
For the Raikes Foundation, 2018 was a year marked both by meaningful progress, but also significant change. We continued to pursue our core strategies in education, youth homelessness, expanded learning opportunities and impact-driven philanthropy, all while preparing for some big shifts internally and exploring potential new areas of focus for the year ahead.
As always, our grantees and partners pushed the boundaries of their fields and left us feeling more inspired than ever. Some key highlights for our foundation, grantees and partners from this year include:
- Banding together with Pearl Jam on The Home Shows to focus our community on ending homelessness. We look forward to continuing to work with the band and all of our philanthropic, nonprofit, public and corporate partners as our community rallies around a comprehensive solution to ensure everyone in King County has a safe place to call home.
- Partnering with Third Way and the American Enterprise Institute to release a series of papers focused on ways to improve college completion rates. These papers shine a light on an important but often overlooked aspect of student retention and college completion – ensuring students experience a sense of belonging on campus, especially for first-generation and under-represented students.
- Releasing findings from a study of expanded learning programs in Washington state showing that, with the right support, afterschool and summer learning programs can significantly improve program quality and deliver the kind of enriching experiences that help kids thrive academically and socially.
- Celebrating the one-year anniversary of Giving Compass. We are evolving Giving Compass into a powerful resource to help donors give with impact as just one part of our commitment to advancing impact-driven philanthropy.
- Launching two key youth homelessness campaigns in our state in A Way Home Washington’s Anchor Communities Initiative and King County’s campaign to end youth homelessness. We’ve never seen such commitment and energy to end youth homelessness, and we couldn’t be more excited to see leaders from across the state ready to take on this challenge.
- Supporting the creation and release of From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope, the Aspen SEAD Commission’s recommendations on integrating social, emotional and academic development into classrooms across America.
- Continuing to use our voices and resources to focus philanthropists, policymakers and business leaders on equity and justice for the most marginalized in our society. From spotlighting the challenges that LGBTQ young people face, to calling on the education system to advance racial equity, to urging the private sector to recognize its role in promoting social justice and bringing that same message to Washington D.C., we are working to build bridges and help as many people as we can understand that we all have a role in working toward a more just and equitable world.
In addition to progress we made on our core strategies in 2018, the foundation also navigated some new frontiers. This year, for the first time, we’ve chosen to sunset one of our core strategies. We also learned that our founding executive director, Erin Kahn, would be stepping down from her role at the foundation.
After more than a decade of investment, we decided that the time was right to sunset our investment in our expanded learning opportunities strategy. We’ve helped lay a strong foundation for an expanded learning system in Washington state that will help thousands of young people build lifelong skills and find their passions, and our partners are poised to continue developing and improving the system.
And after more than 11 years, Erin Kahn has decided to move on from her role as executive director of the Raikes Foundation. Our journey as philanthropists would not have been the same without Erin’s ideas and leadership. For more than a decade, she’s helped us identify and shape our focus areas, built a talented staff team and learned alongside us as we strove to improve our work, year over year. We will miss Erin, but she’s positioned us well to welcome new leadership and a fresh perspective on the work we do.
As we look back and look ahead, we are excited about the progress we’ve made, and we’re committed to continuing our work to advance a more just and equitable future in partnership with our grantees, friends in the community and partners across the country.
We hope you enjoy the review of 2018 that follows.
We believe that equity must be at the center of any impactful grantmaking strategy because we’ve seen that when systems can capably respond to those most affected by a problem, they are well-equipped to better serve everyone’s needs.
For example, we know that youth who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers. Our commitments to impact and equity guide us to first ensure that crisis response systems can effectively respond to the needs of LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ young people often experience homelessness for longer periods of times than their peers and are more vulnerable to abuse, so if our crisis response systems are strong enough to lift LGBTQ youth out of homelessness quickly and keep them safe, they will be strong enough to help young people who are less vulnerable to discrimination and societal stigma.
By helping those who are most affected by a problem, or those least well-served by a system, we can achieve impact faster and begin to build the more equitable, just world we want to see.
2018 Equity Spotlight
Fair School Funding
Any effort to ensure all students receive a rich, supportive and challenging educational experience starts by redesigning the way America’s public schools are funded. As it stands, outdated school finance models perpetuate longstanding funding disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines. Changing these models so that schools and students receive funding based on what they need to be successful is at the heart of designing an education system that serves all students well.
In 2018 we partnered with the Learning Policy Institute, Education Trust, Education Resource Strategies, Education Counsel and others to synthesize the research and best practices that states, districts and advocates can use to ensure schools are equitably funded. By advancing the quality of research, technical assistance and advocacy available to the field, we’ve helped make progress toward fairer school funding systems at the state and local level. We also helped to grow this promising field by bringing together school leaders, educators and policymakers to learn more about how outdated school finance models impact students’ academic outcomes.
When our schools have the resources they need to support the students who need it the most, they can begin to close stubborn opportunity gaps and help all students achieve academic success.
We’ve learned over the years that effective collaboration and partnership are crucial components of durable, transformative change.
That’s why we always strive to bring together impacted communities, government, businesses, nonprofits and other philanthropic organizations to solve problems. We join tables where civic conversations are taking place, and if none exist, we work with our partners and communities to build new tables.
As grantmakers, we’re only successful when we listen to people in the community, work to bring together as many stakeholders as possible and help everyone align around a shared set of goals.
2018 Collaboration Spotlight
The Home Shows
We were honored to partner with Pearl Jam on the band’s Home Shows initiative this year. The Home Shows rallied Seattle and King County, uniting leaders in government, the business community, nonprofits and philanthropy around the common goal of ending our region’s ongoing homelessness crisis. By bringing together a diverse constituency, the Home Shows effort was able to inspire thousands of volunteers for homelessness service providers, reach hundreds of thousands of people online with stories of our neighbors experiencing homelessness and raise more than $11 million dollars for innovative solutions to homelessness.
While the Home Shows focused on our region’s overarching homelessness crisis, through close collaboration with the initiative's leaders and key partners we helped to ensure that young people experiencing homelessness had a seat at the table and that solutions for young people were funded as part of the effort. The Home Shows funded the region’s Host Home program for young adults experiencing homelessness, helped launch King County’s campaign to end youth homelessness by 2020, funded thousands of classroom projects to help homeless students through DonorsChoose.org and partnered in the launch of A Way Home Washington’s statewide effort to end youth homelessness by 2022.
We believe in long-term, systemic changes over quick fixes and silver bullets. The most critical challenges we face in society, from inequitable education outcomes to chronic homelessness, are the products of complex systems. We believe the best way to generate long-lasting change is to transform those systems so that they create better outcomes for everyone, rather than reproduce historic inequities.
Philanthropists can play a unique role in helping to transform systems. Government often can’t act quickly to generate innnovative solutions, and the private sector lacks an incentive to engage until there is a clear path to profit. As grantmakers, we can provide the funding to fill missing gaps in data and pilot new approaches, making the path toward collaboration with government, the private sector and community clearer and less risky for all.
2018 Systems Transformation Spotlight
The Anchor Community Initiative
In 2018 our partners at A Way Home Washington launched their Anchor Community Initiative, an effort that aims to end youth and young adult homelessness in four Washington state communities by 2022 by transforming the systems that impact young people. Starting in Pierce, Spokane, Walla Walla and Yakima counties, the Anchor Community Initiative will collect and analyze data on homeless youth, rapidly implement and test solutions and lay the foundation for a system to prevent and end youth homelessness.
A Way Home Washington is working with our state’s Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection to ensure that the lessons learned from this work translate to systemic change across Washington state. We’re honored to be partnering with Ballmer Group and Campion Advocacy Fund to support this campaign.
Influence and Advocacy
We’ve learned that generating systemic change requires much more than grants—we must build coalitions, use our voice to advocate for change and lift the voices of others. For us, that starts with creating a bridge to stakeholders in our communities to listen, learn and work together across our differences.
2018 Spotlight on Influence and Advocacy
Speaking out on equity
This year we engaged people in positions of power on difficult issues of racism and systemic inequality in America. Some highlights include Jeff Raikes’ feature in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on why corporate America needs to lean in on issues of social justice, as well as his appearance at the Atlantic Festival, where the conversation was extended to include Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, Michele Norris, founder of the Race Card Project and Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. Our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Lindsay Hill, also delivered a powerful TEDx talk on systemic inequity in schools this year.
We strive to elevate and engage in conversations about equity because no matter what issue you work on, transformative change can only be achieved by addressing issues of system inequality.
Our society faces significant challenges today, both new and enduring. Impactful grantmaking requires us to always be learning and adapting our approach to these challenges.
We strive to routinely reflect on the changing dynamics surrounding our work and evolve our strategies to best meet new challenges. Philanthropy must continuously integrate new research and insights from communities to ensure the work we do together reflects current realities in our society. We devote time and resources to both individual and team-based professional development to ensure our staff is centering equity and a systems-based approach in everything we do.
We also believe in supporting our grantees to learn and grow. We invest in our grantees and partners so that they can improve their own capacity to lead and adapt as new challenges emerge in their work.
2018 Continuous Learning Spotlight
The Building Equitable Learning Environments Network (BELE Network)
The BELE Network represents a new way of grantmaking for us. We started by inviting 10 nonprofit organizations that work directly with schools and students to come together and identify which students they were serving least well. We wanted them to be candid and learn together about the shared challenges they faced and work together to rapidly prototype ideas to serve those young people better. It required a different mindset and a special attention to reducing the unequal power dynamics inherently present in grantee relationships, but we believe it represents the future for us, and will lead to better solutions for the young people we hope to serve.
As we build on our learning in the first three years of the BELE Network, we’re carrying forward valuable lessons about how to facilitate the best environment and opportunities for our grantees to learn and strengthen their impact.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi