Key Points

· Foundations have begun to recognize that how they go about their work is as important as what they support. To be better armed to address the urgent challenges facing Detroit’s children, the Skillman Foundation has adopted a changemaking role that draws upon and leverages its knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments.

· Effective changemaking depends on the accrual of trust and respect that is built over time in relationships with community residents and stakeholders, public and private partners, and others with influence and resources.

· Changemaking required the foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across traditionally siloed grantmaking programs, adding evaluation and learning staff, and increasing communication and alignment between board and staff.

· Ten lessons for foundations that want to assume a changemaking role are offered, including paying attention to local context and political realities, understanding and managing the dynamics of credit and control, and communicating clearly and inviting feedback about the foundation’s goals so that its strategies are informed by a timely and nuanced understanding of potential partners’ interests and needs.

Open Access