Over the last few years, many members of the philanthropic community in our area have been grappling with questions of impact and duplication in their work. These questions are not unique to our community and are, in fact, essential to ensuring quality grantmaking that addresses our area’s specific needs at this time in our collective history.
In order to evaluate the efficacy of our work, the Community Foundation for the CSRA asked several local foundations to join us in funding research that would aim to answer the following: given our most challenging community needs – as defined by the United Way needs assessment – how does our nonprofit community align in terms of capacity and capability with those needs? In 2017, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits conducted an asset mapping as well as trend analysis of the 30901, 30904 and 30906 zip code areas of Richmond County. The resulting information has guided the Community Foundation’s work in multiple ways.
One of the most important aspects of that work is our decision to develop a new granting program that would use current best practices regarding effective grantmaking to address tough, often intractable, community challenges. This new program is place based and multi-generational – meaning that the work focuses on a defined geographic area and addresses needs throughout a person’s life from birth to adult. These two frameworks have shown great promise in terms of addressing the cycle of poverty.
Through a partnership with a statewide effort, Literacy for All, our team focused this new program on literacy and the many barriers to productive learning that face families living in poverty. The Community Foundation has relationships with many organizations who were already working tirelessly on this issue and sought from the beginning to capitalize on their work through facilitating intentional collaboration and providing much needed capacity building, multi-year funding. Working with a small committee made up of people who were already working in this area, we developed a granting process that focused not just on direct funding for literacy programs but also on the wrap around services aimed at reducing barriers to learning.
The Community Foundations Literacy Initiative’s pilot program awarded grants in July of 2019 with the intention to continue annual funding in 2020 and 2021. These grants were awarded to selected organizations willing to focus their work on the Harrisburg neighborhood as defined by the children who attend Lamar Milledge Elementary and their families. Our hope is that by intentional funding a cohort of educators and service providers that provide programming and support across the entire life cycle, we can have measurable improvements to literacy and a positive impact on the entire neighborhood. If we are successful, we would look to duplicate this model in additional neighborhoods.
We are very focused on supporting our grantees through regular meetings where they can talk through problems they’ve encountered, find ways to share resources, make course corrections and share data. Each organization collects data as part of their work, so we will work to collect and analyze all of the group’s data to measure our collective impact.
The Community Foundation is proud to be working with the following Literacy Initiative partners:
2019 Literacy Initiative Grantees
Augusta Partnership for Children, Inc.
Augusta-Richmond County Public Library
Richmond County School System/Lamar Milledge Elementary
Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA
Communities in Schools of Augusta Richmond County, Inc.
CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, Inc. (EOA)
Good Neighborhood Ministries