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Lessons and Evaluations

Our Foundation is committed to learning from the experience and insights shared by our grantees, and to sharing lessons with the field. In some instances, we examine how we’re doing – as a grantmaking organization. At other times, we focus on what’s discovered in grantee programs.

Horizons 2003-2010

There are thousands of rural communities throughout the Northwest Area Foundation’s eight-state service region. Some are close to large metropolitan centers like Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and Minneapolis. Others are nested on plains or in remote mountain areas. Over the years, the Foundation has used a range of grantmaking approaches to help meet the needs and support the goals of these diverse places. The lessons learned from decades of support to rural nonprofits, agencies and change agents are helping us fund efforts that promote good jobs, build local economies, help people build financial know-how, and seek public policy solutions.

An initiative that produced innovative work and valuable lessons was the Horizons program funded by the Foundation from 2003 to 2010. Developed and conducted in partnership with several state university extension services and tribal colleges, Horizons focused on rural communities and towns with populations of 5,000 and fewer, with poverty rates of 10% or greater, and that had or were experiencing populations shifts. The program provided information, training and coaching to promote civic engagement that might help communities develop goals and plans to reduce poverty and advance sustainable prosperity.

Over 283 communities, and a total of over 100,000 people, participated in Horizons over seven years. They produced many inspiring activities. The Foundation is proud to have supported this effort, yet determined this approach was not within the scope of the strategic framework adopted in 2008.  Based on a decade of lessons learned, the revised mission remained focused on poverty reduction and demanded that grants support nonprofits directly working on asset-building and public policy solutions.

The Wilder Research report, Seeding Change in Rural and Reservation Community: The story of Horizons, summarizes the Foundation’s approach and lessons learned.  An earlier report by QED is an evaluation of the program itself. Both are informative and greatly appreciated.

Related info

Wilder Research
Seeding Change in Rural and Reservation Communities:
The Story of Horizons

October 2013 >>download pdf

Northwest Area Foundation Horizons Program 2003-2010:
Final Evaluation Report
>>download pdf

Gaining Perspective:
Lessons Learned from One Foundation’s Exploratory Decade

>>download pdf
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