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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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FordFoundation Strategy 2009
Around Texas

April, 2009

A year ago, we set out to ensure that the Ford Foundation's grant making was addressing the challenges of the next generation. Our aim was to produce a set of strategies that look forward but that also draw upon Ford's more than 50 years of experience on the frontlines of social change around the world, fighting for social justice and focused on the poorest and most marginalized among us.

We dedicated ourselves to a collaborative process, listening carefully to leaders and partners in every sector, from nonprofits and academia to business and government. I thank all of you—more than 2,000 individuals and institutions in all the regions in which we work—whose thoughtful input helped us make this a broadly informed process.

The effort has resulted in a profound recommitment to the mission and values that have long defined the Ford Foundation. This recommitment is expressed in a comprehensive set of new strategies aimed at creating fairness and equity for people everywhere. It is our intention to make certain that the objectives of our programs are clear, that our grant-making approaches are oriented to a changing world and that our contributions help bring about real and lasting change in people's lives.

In short, we embarked on this work to ensure that all our resources—our staff, funding, and reputation—are aligned in the most effective way to achieve our mission. To that end:

  • Our programs will address eight significant social justice issues. These issues are grounded in our mission and history and should be very familiar to our partners.
  • Within each area we have developed coordinated lines of work that, taken together, represent our response to the core social justice issues on which we are focusing our efforts.
  • Each line of work will be driven by strategic thinking, with overarching goals, time frames and projected resource requirements.
  • Our program officers will be working in teams to implement these lines of work. This marks a shift from individually directed initiatives to more team-oriented collaborations that cut across the foundation's work in the United States and around the world.
  • Each of our teams will be led by an experienced director who will guide strategy development and lead an ongoing process of evaluation and learning. These directors will also manage the grant budget, in collaboration with the representatives leading our regional offices.
  • Our regional offices have participated fully in this strategy exercise, and each is now finalizing its regional implementation plan. These plans assess the local context and offer an overall strategy that will guide which lines of work will be pursued at the regional level.
  • We expect each regional office will focus on four to six specific lines of work within our broad issue areas, selecting those that they and our local partners believe will combine to have the greatest impact on regional advancement.

We are very conscious that our grantees have a stake in the choices we have made, as well as questions about how the shift to new strategies will be managed. We are pleased that, thus far, our grant making has experienced minimal disruption, and we are devoting the remainder of 2009 to working with our partners on a smooth transition. To allow time for this, full implementation of our new grant strategies will not begin until October, when our 2010 fiscal year starts.

We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. We believe that the next generation of Ford's work has the potential to help achieve the lasting social change in which we all believe.

But it will not be easy. The challenges of discrimination, economic inequity and lack of access to opportunity are real and growing. In many areas where our past support contributed to significant gains, ground is being lost. More immediately, all of us are feeling the pain of the global economic crisis, and this year will likely be harder than last.

That's why our effort to bring greater focus and strategy to our work is so timely, and why the efforts we will pursue with our partners in the years ahead are perhaps more vital than at any time in the past 40 years.

As we look to the future, we remain fully committed to the courageous people who struggle every day to have their voices heard, find dignity in their work and provide opportunity for their children. These are the people, and these are the issues, the Ford Foundation was created to address.

Now more than ever, we look forward to helping you find lasting solutions for the challenges of these urgent times.


Luis A. Ubiñas
April 2009


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