Key Points

In the quest for equitable and lasting reform in postsecondary education, philanthropy’s great strength is its flexibility to make use of multiple strategies. However, as most grantmakers know firsthand, not all strategy combinations lead to lasting systemic change.

This article offers an actionable approach for designing and analyzing philanthropically funded movements in order to remake an area of educational policy or practice. It begins with a review of philanthropic literature that identifies the primary change strategies used by funders in the education sector. It then introduces a tool, rooted in organizational research, to understand and predict the circumstances under which different combinations of strategies are likely to lead to lasting change.

These recommendations are made concrete by applying the analytical tool to two real-world examples, the movements for degree reclamation and community college data capacity, with particular attention to deepening funders’ analytic and strategic attention to dismantling educational inequities.

Open Access