Kids Matter Here: An Analytic Review of the 10-Year Good Neighborhoods Initiative

Kids Matter Here: An Analytic Review of the 10-Year Good Neighborhoods Initiative

Launched in 2006, the Skillman Foundation's ten-year, $100 million Good Neighborhoods Initiative succeeded in boosting education and community capacity in six neighborhoods, a comprehensive evaluation by the foundation finds. Based on nine individual evaluations focused on the initiative's efforts to improve school quality, strengthen community and civic leadership, support youth development, and improve safety, the report, Kids Matter Here: An Analytic Review of the 10-Year Good Neighborhoods Initiative (80 pages, PDF), looks at how the initiative evolved through various phases, including community planning (2006-09), readiness and capacity building (2008-11), and implementation (2011-16); what it accomplished; and the lessons it offers. According to the report, the place-based initiative helped create networks of community leaders with improved capacity to influence local conditions on behalf of children; awarded more than eight hundred small grants to community leaders; and helped forge a cross-sector coalition focused on revamping financial and structural elements of Detroit's educational system. Indeed, between 2007 and 2015 high school graduation rates in the six neighborhoods targeted by the initiative increased from 65 percent to 80 percent, a much larger jump than for the city as a whole. Lessons for philanthropy include the importance of combining deep community engagement with investment in broader policy and systems change; recognizing, reinforcing, and renewing cultural values and norms guiding the work; investing in data and outcome measurement; and focusing on creating greater accountability by stakeholders.