Foundation Vision/Mission and Whole Family Fit
This short set of questions can help you assess whether incorporating a whole family approach in your grantmaking and investing aligns with your foundation’s priorities. These questions can also be used to talk with donors about their investment strategy and whether a whole family approach would support their goals.
Remember that a whole family approach can range from an “additive” strategy or a
comprehensive strategy. Funders may choose to add one or more elements of whole family
approaches to existing portfolios and grantmaking, often because data has revealed
persistent gap in hoped for outcomes. Or funders may choose to partner with other
philanthropy to improve their approach. Sometimes, incorporating a new strategy that aligns
with existing approaches can help improve outcomes – it may result in a minor shift that either eventually leads to a more robust whole family approach later, or it may simply result in
improved outcomes for the whole family in the area(s) of your current grantmaking. We call
this the “adjacent possible” – what you might change slightly to build upon your existing
portfolios and grantmaking – that would improve whole family outcomes without a major lift.
In other cases, funders may choose to adopt whole family approaches as an entire strategy,
funding either organizations or partnerships to implement the full range of two-generation
components. The United Way of Greater Cincinnati recognized that by releasing an RFP focused solely on whole family partnerships, it was in fact braiding together grantmaking that was previously more segmented.
After you take this short assessment, please visit the strategic fit document here that
offers a more detailed set of questions and approaches your foundation can consider.
Does your mission and vision focus on improving the lives of children, parents and/or caregivers, and families?
- If no, a whole family approach is likely not aligned with your work as a foundation.
- If yes, there is evidence that incorporating some or much of a whole family approach to grantmaking could improve the impact of your grantmaking.
Your Intended Impact
Does your foundation focus on and measure one or more of the following outcomes of
Improved outcomes for specific populations
- Through a focus on children, parents (mothers, fathers, caregivers), black and brown communities, or others?
Improved economic stability for families
- Through workforce, postsecondary education, basic literacy, asset development, access to child care/transportation/public benefits, or other means?
Increased educational and social-emotional development for children 0-18
- Through early childhood education, supporting children to thrive in K-12 settings by reducing absenteeism or strategies to reduce racial disparities, out-of-school time investments, or other means?
Improving gender and/or racial equity approaches
- Through training of organizational staff, embedding racial or gender equity practices and policies into operations, or other means?
Improving health and mental health outcomes for all family members?
- Through improving policies to expand access to health systems and providers, culturally appropriate access to health and mental health care, or other means?
If you focus on and measure outcomes in any of these areas, incorporating whole family
approaches into your grantmaking promises to improve outcomes that support your mission
Your Impact To Date and Hurdles in the Way of Success
What do grantees regularly report as getting in the way of success? Review the areas of
programmatic and policy investment noted above, or note others, and the degree to which
these hurdles are tied to some other aspect of family well-being and might be improved by
incorporating more of a whole family approach.
What do families say impacts their success with the programs/policies you invest in?
If your outcomes target adults, ask, “Would things improve for adults if we thought about
children in the lives of the adults we invest in?”
If your outcomes target children, ask, “Would things improve for children if we thought about
the adults in their lives?”
Your Strategy and Investment Supports
- Do you invest in direct service/program investments or policy related to Ascend’s five
areas of two-generation work. Are there other areas of your work
- where a whole family approach could add value, such as child welfare or juvenile
- Do you provide capital support or have program-related investments that focus on
services and supports to families?
- Is your approach intersectional, considering the impacts of race, gender, and class for
- Do you invest in collaborative approaches or collective impact strategies?
- Do you focus on improving federal, state, and local systems and policies for families?
- If you can answer yes for any of these areas, incorporating whole family approaches into your grantmaking promises to improve outcomes that support your mission and vision.