Philanthropic Approach: How We Do It

Our Vision and Values | What We Do | How We Do It

Grantmaking: We focus on areas where we can make the greatest impact by investing for the long term to serve vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. Along with direct services, we realize we must also support reducing the systemic barriers that create the need for such programs, strengthen and align the systems that can create pathways of opportunity, and share knowledge about the best ways to achieve lasting change. We strive not only to fund programs but also work intentionally to understand root causes and upstream barriers and strengthen the systems that can mitigate them. We take a strong, proactive approach. We invest in key, long-term partners and make multi-year grants to allow for ambitious goals. When appropriate, we explore program-related investments (PRIs) and other market-driven solutions. We seek solutions that bring about enduring change.

An Inclusion Lens: We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core principles interwoven throughout the fabric of the foundation and as a lens that guides us both internally and in how we do our work. With an understanding that the most vulnerable communities are those disproportionately impacted by systemic barriers and forms of oppression, we strive to elevate the voices of those impacted by systemic disparities across race, gender, and class lines to support long-lasting social change. Fundamental to our approach is making sure that people with lived experience are at the center of collaborative efforts to improve systems. We seek to learn from and continue to adapt on these principles as part of an ongoing journey.

Communication and Advocacy: The Foundation sees its role as catalyzing change within systems. We use our voice in the field to advocate for what we have learned to be successful approaches, driving policy in pursuit of stronger systems. Our program staff are leaders that convene diverse stakeholders, educate policymakers, build partnerships, and seek out innovative ideas. One of our most important roles is to lift up the voices of those we serve, and to bring other funders and supporters to shared tables around common goals.

Collaboration: Recognizing that we do not have all of the answers, all of the funds or the capacity to achieve our goals alone, we seek partners beyond our grantees and Prize laureates. We seed and strengthen coalitions that develop, apply, and measure shared goals. We work to shift public dialogue and policy, develop solutions that are scalable, and leverage and align public and private funding. The communities in which we work, other funders and public stakeholders are rich assets from which we can learn and partner. Our staff recognize that collaboration with vibrant networks to share solutions and lessons learned and coordinate funding is vital to our work. As such, core to our strategies is the engagement of these entities through regular convenings, offering a space for an exchange of ideas, identification of challenges, and effective movement building.

Learning: We work with our partners not only to agree upon what needs to be done but to collectively assess our progress toward achieving our shared goals. In working to address big challenges, an explicit learning agenda ensures that we learn from and adapt to our successes, developments on the ground, and sometimes unexpected challenges. Learning from available data, stakeholders and our partners in the field helps us to drive resources most efficiently to where they are needed. We engage external partners to help facilitate program monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL). We recognize that evaluation is not only about the measurable outcomes we seek from our philanthropic investments but also about the way we work and how effective we are as a partner. We believe the MEL process provides us with a vital, candid assessment of how we work, what we learn, and how we can adapt. We believe that strategy development, execution, measurement, and strategy adjustment are part of a continuous cycle.

Our overarching philanthropic approach employs three key and intentionally inter-related channels to achieve impact.

  • Supporting programmatic solutions allows the Foundation to sustain and test recognized and exploratory approaches.
  • Foundation investments in strengthening systems support efforts to scale solutions, improve public policy and infrastructure, and drive funders, providers and public leaders to invest resources and improve efficiencies toward shared goals.
  • Developing knowledge from both direct service and system strengthening programs, integrating this knowledge with what was known before, and disseminating the knowledge creates continuous learning and supports the application of knowledge in each area where we work.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Philanthropic Approach

Each of these channels is intrinsically linked to the next, and we believe the combination of these approaches responds to community needs, fosters innovation, and maximizes the impact of the Foundation’s investments. Because each program in the Foundation operates in distinct, dynamic environments with varying goals and methods, these channels will be applied differently in each strategy.

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