Raikes Foundation 2017 Annual Report

Reflections from Executive Director Erin Kahn

It was a pivotal year at the Raikes Foundation, which is why we are excited to share our reflections from 2017. This year our work on diversity, equity and inclusion pushed our collective thinking and challenged us in ways that we didn’t anticipate. And, as always, this year our grantees and partners made incredible progress for young people and the community.

Nationally and in communities across our country, 2017 was marked by deepening divisions and a retreat from the core values that most of us hold dear. Yet, I have been continually inspired by our partners’ and staff’s ability to respond to those challenges with firm resolve to improve the lives of young people—particularly youth of color, LGBTQ youth and those living in poverty. I’m also particularly grateful for our partnerships with private and public funders, which make so much of our work possible.

Here are some highlights from our work in 2017:

  • The release of the first research brief from Voices of Youth Count, a first-of-its-kind survey giving us a comprehensive look at the disturbing prevalence of youth and young adult homelessness in every community across the country.
  • The development of new tools and professional development resources that are helping summer and afterschool programs deliver high-quality, enriching programs for young people in Washington state.
  • The rise of mindset science as a key area of the science of learning and development and an essential component of equity in education.
  • The launch of the Adolescent Brain Science Translation Project, which aims to expand and synthesize the best available science on adolescence, a critical developmental period.
  • A promising first year of collaboration for the BELE Network—a learning community dedicated to building models that advance equity in schools.
  • A thought-provoking conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the insidious ways that race-blind policies disadvantage people of color with our trustee, Jeff Raikes, and Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, moderated by Michele Norris.
  • The start of a new initiative to increase the impact of giving by individual donors, the largest segment of philanthropy, and a great new platform to help do that, called Giving Compass.

This year we also continued to shift more attention to diversity, equity and inclusion, in both our programmatic work and operations. The emphasis has been the result of a lot of learning, taking on uncomfortable conversations and a recognition that we needed to shift away from a race-blind approach to have an impact on the social problems we aim to solve.

As a result of this reflection, we are now guided by a new mission, vision and set of values. Our team and co-founders are re-imagining our strategies with the goal of producing more equitable outcomes for young people, supporting our grantees to do their own equity work and confronting the ways in which systemic oppression affects every system and institution our work touches. We’re committed to the ongoing work required to become a truly diverse, inclusive and equitable organization. There is still much to do, and I’m excited about what's ahead.

We hope you enjoy the review of 2017 that follows.

- Erin Kahn, Executive Director, Raikes Foundation

A Focus on Equity

At the Raikes Foundation, we believe that every young person has limitless potential, and much of our work has focused on removing the barriers that keep young people from thriving. However, we’ve come to realize that reaching our north star requires more than technical solutions to the challenges young people face—it requires explicit commitments to equity and justice.

The support young people need has never been distributed equitably, and the systems that are supposed to help them routinely fail youth of color and youth in poverty. Closing these unconscionable gaps requires a commitment to serving the young people situated furthest from opportunity.

Our Mission

The Raikes Foundation invests in youth-serving institutions and systems to make them more effective in supporting and empowering all young people, especially those who have been most marginalized.

Our Vision

A just and inclusive society where all young people have the support they need to achieve their full potential.

Our new mission and vision statements reflect two important priorities. First, our mission signals our focus on youth who are furthest from opportunity. Second, both statements reflect a commitment to equity. Because strategies designed to “lift all boats” rarely do, it is critical to acknowledge inequities in the systems where we work before we seek to disrupt them. Without focusing on equity, we know the changes we seek will not flow to the young people who need them most.

Our Values

The power of young people: We believe in the boundless potential of young people to change the world. By acknowledging the humanity in every young person and ensuring systems work for those who have been most marginalized, all young people will be able reach their full potential.

Systemic change: We believe that the most enduring impact comes from improving systems that serve large numbers of young people, not just focusing on specific programs or organizations. To achieve change at this level, we focus on high-leverage opportunities for impact where private philanthropy can play a catalytic role.

Equity: We aspire to a more just and equitable world. And we accept our responsibility to understand and address the longstanding racial and social inequities that shape the systems we aim to impact today. Our commitment to equity guides the problems we aim to solve, the partners we choose and the actions we take.

Collaboration and partnership: Systems-level change doesn’t happen without collaboration and deep engagement with the communities the systems serve. There are multiple constituencies who must work together to advance solutions. Collaboration is an essential ingredient of our approach, both internally and externally.

Diversity of knowledge and expertise: We use scientific research and data to inform our work while also proactively seeking out the insights and expertise of people with lived experience from the communities we serve, especially young people.

Learning: The work we do is always evolving. Our desire to continuously learn drives us to seek and embrace feedback, integrate new information, reflect on successes and failures, and always look for ways to more effectively achieve our mission.

What We Did Together in 2017

This year our grantees, partners and staff accomplished ambitious goals and pushed the boundaries of their fields. What follows is just a snapshot of our work in education, youth homelessness, expanded learning and impact-driven philanthropy in 2017.


While we’ve made some progress as a country in raising high school graduation rates, race and class remain the most reliable predictors of students’ educational outcomes. At a time when our school systems and our nation are becoming more diverse, completion gaps by race and income have increased over the last several decades. Clearly, we need a different approach.

That’s why we doubled down on our investments to build schools and systems that are centered on equity and informed by what science tells us about how young people learn and develop. Research shows us that by affirming a student’s identity, instilling a sense of belonging and fostering a growth mindset we can unlock an innate love of learning. When students are surrounded by caring adults and supportive environments, we can begin to close opportunity gaps and help all our students thrive.

Highlights from our education work this year include:

Advancing the science of learning and development

In 2017, our partners at the Mindset Scholars Network (MSN) made huge strides developing the field of mindset science into a high-impact, practical area of the science of learning and development. MSN also began work on the largest-ever nationwide study of learning mindset practices and early findings from this research are confirming positive results—particularly for previously lower-achieving students.

We also collaborated with multiple funders across a range of sectors, including juvenile justice, education, racial equity and health, on the Adolescent Brain Science Translation Project to synthesize the science of adolescent development. Insights from this research will allow policymakers and practitioners to make more informed decisions as they design youth-serving systems and institutions.

Building Equitable Learning Environments: Year two

In 2016, we launched the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network to bring together school support organizations and research entities in a learning community dedicated to designing models to advance equity in the classroom. In year two of this national network, the 10 school support organizations that make up the BELE Network have piloted innovations to their models in the areas of professional development, measurement, continuous improvement, targeted universalism and internal organizational equity practices. BELE Network organizations have reached thousands of students across the country and have accelerated progress on developing ideas that can be shared and scaled.

Breaking ground on post-secondary work

This year we developed a new strategy focused on student retention, success and closing completion gaps in higher education. Often, we focus on getting students to high school graduation and then college, but what happens to students after that? Stubborn completion and opportunity gaps tell us that first-generation students, low-income students and students of color face unique barriers to success that colleges and universities have the power to address.

We’re developing a unique research-practice partnership that centers student experiences in the design of success and retention efforts in higher education, with a focus on students historically underserved. Our aim is to help colleges and universities create more equitable learning environments that close completion gaps by supporting student success and well-being.

Youth Homelessness

Our vision is a world where no young person is ever forced to sleep outside or in an unsafe situation for lack of a place to call home. This year we made great progress at the local, state and national level—making investments to both improve the way systems respond when a young person slips into homelessness and to prevent young people from becoming homeless in the first place. We’re collaborating with our partners to develop innovative solutions that meet youth experiencing homelessness where they are and to scale the most promising solutions from across the country. Highlights from our youth homelessness work this year include:

Accelerating efforts to end youth homelessness

Working with the Schultz Family Foundation, A Way Home Washington, the Mockingbird Society and the Rapid Results Institute, we supported teams in King, Spokane and Pierce Counties to undertake “100-Day Challenges” to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness. In just 100 days, the teams collectively housed more than 600 homeless young people by trying new things, breaking out of “business as usual” and operating with unprecedented urgency.

We also collaborated with the Medina Foundation and YMCA to bring a new housing solution for homeless young people to Seattle. Host Homes matches unstably-housed young adults with a member of the community who can provide safe housing while the young person works towards stability and independence. Host Homes have been hugely successful in cities across the country, and we’re excited to see this program take root in our own backyard.

Groundbreaking research on the scale of youth homelessness

The youth homelessness field has long been hampered by a lack of reliable data, hamstringing efforts to provide sufficient housing and other necessary support for young people experiencing homelessness. That’s why we co-funded Voices of Youth Count, a groundbreaking, multiyear research project by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. This year Chapin Hall released the first research brief from the project, “Missed Opportunities,” which definitively showed that more than 4.2 million young people in the U.S. ages 13-25 experience homelessness annually. More research briefs slated for release in 2018 will dive deeper on the demographics of homeless young people, helping the field to design more effective prevention and response strategies.

Preventing homelessness

We know that to end youth homelessness we must not only improve the services available to homeless youth, but also prevent young people from experiencing homelessness altogether. In collaboration with Washington state’s Office of Homeless Youth, we are supporting pilot projects in King, Pierce and Kitsap counties to prevent young people from leaving public systems, like juvenile detention or foster care, and becoming homeless.

We also continue to support the Mockingbird Society’s Youth Advocates Ending Homelessness chapter, which brought several recommendations for improving foster care and preventing youth homelessness to the Office of Homeless Youth and Washington Legislature this year.

Expanded Learning Opportunities

In 2017 we continued working toward a system of high-quality expanded learning programs throughout Washington state. We know that students keep learning long after the school day ends, making afterschool and summer learning programs an essential part of a student’s academic, social and emotional development. But too often low-income students and students of color have limited or no access to high-quality expanded learning programs, exacerbating opportunity gaps and denying those students a chance to develop new skills and discover lifelong passions.

By building a statewide system of expanded learning we can ensure that every student has access to programs that can help them excel in the classroom and in life. Some highlights from our expanded learning opportunities work this year include:

Completing the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative

Working with 50 expanded learning programs across King, Pierce, Spokane and Walla Walla counties, Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington and School’s Out Washington (SOWA) completed Washington state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative this year. The Initiative demonstrated that when we support afterschool and summer learning programs with the right resources and training, they can deliver high-quality, transformative programming to young people.

The result of a public-private partnership between the Raikes Foundation and Washington state, the Initiative showed that our state is on the right path to creating a first-in-the-nation quality expanded learning system for K-12 students. Using data and information from the study, Cultivate Learning and SOWA have strengthened services and programs for youth development professionals, including advanced coaching and professional development “Two Minute Tips” to help program staff deepen their skills.

Launching the nation’s first Youth Program Registry

This year we also partnered with SOWA to launch a unique database of expanded learning programs and youth development professionals in Washington state. The Youth Program Registry is helping our state build a robust database of afterschool and summer learning programs which can be used to understand who these programs are serving, where we have gaps in access and where to find high-quality programs. The registry is also helping us better understand the youth development workforce in our state.

Impact-Driven Philanthropy

This year we launched our Impact-Driven Philanthropy initiative because we believe more can be done to help donors who want to give with impact. Over the next several decades Americans will contribute nearly $20 trillion to nonprofit organizations, presenting a unique opportunity to make progress on our most pressing challenges—from income inequality to systemic racism to climate change. Most of this giving will come from individuals. However, most of the resources to guide giving with impact are geared toward professional staff in large foundations.

Our goal with this new strategy is to unlock the knowledge we have as a sector about what works and how to give with impact for individual donors, the largest segment of philanthropy. A highlight from our impact-driven philanthropy work this year includes:

Launching Giving Compass

In the summer of 2017 we launched Giving Compass to aggregate the best information to support donors who want to give well. Through Giving Compass, we’ve already reached tens of thousands of donors with tips and resources to build an impactful giving strategy and are deepening donors' learning through partnerships with leading organizations in the sector.

2017 By The Numbers

Raikes Foundation Total Expenditures

Grantmaking by Program

Donor Advised Funds

The Raikes Foundation also maintains two donor advised funds, one at Stanford University and another at Seattle Foundation. In 2017, we recommended awarding charitable grants totaling $2,193,000 from those two funds, leaving a remaining balance of $4,552,900 as of Dec. 31, 2017.

Raikes Foundation Statement of Financial Position

As of Dec. 31, 2017 (unaudited)

Reflections on Achieving Impact

Jeff and Tricia Raikes

In our years working in philanthropy, we have had the privilege of engaging in an ongoing dialogue with many of our peers and colleagues about impact and how it is best achieved.

Getting clear on what impact looks like, however, isn’t easy. Achieving it is even harder. We decided to take on that challenge and as you’ve seen in this annual report, we’ve dedicated a lot of work this past year to developing tools and resources for philanthropists to increase their impact.

But we’ve also learned that achieving impact is not a static process. It requires us to continually learn, revise, and most of all, listen to our partners and the communities we serve. We’ve spent a fair amount of time recently working to gain a deeper understanding of equity and why, for us, it is crucial to focus on the needs of those who are situated furthest from opportunity. What we’ve learned is that if we are going to close the persistent and unacceptable opportunity gaps in our country, we must change our approach from one of universal solutions to an approach that focuses on those who have been poorly served by the systems we are trying to change.

We believe this approach can be applied no matter the focus of the work, whether it’s homelessness, transportation, the environment or education. We have found that it is essential to step back and look at who is most impacted by an issue and talk to them about what they are experiencing. We strive for proximity in our work, because being close to the problems increases the probability we will identify sustainable solutions. Not adequately engaging those with lived experience can lead to a replication of the historic inequities we are striving to eliminate.

To advance equity as a field, we believe foundation staff and trustees both need to be invested in that shared goal. At the Raikes Foundation, we feel fortunate that through our work on and training in equity, we are establishing a culture where we can learn alongside one another, push one another and ultimately do better work. We’re committed to continually learning, revising, and listening to ensure we can achieve our desired impact—a more just and equitable future for young people. We look forward to continuing to learn alongside our partners and the communities we serve to build on our progress in 2018.

Thank you for taking the time to read our year in review and as always, we welcome your feedback.

Jeff and Tricia Raikes, Co-Founders, Raikes Foundation

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.