How We Work

Everything we do is to advance our organizational purpose: to inspire and support creative problem solving — within and across sectors — to make our region better for everyone. We work to live our operating values in every aspect of our grantmaking and our operations. Our purpose and our operating values combine in a particular Bush approach to grantmaking:

We are radically open. We do all of our grantmaking through open processes so everyone in the region has the opportunity to get funding from us. We will talk with anyone who wants to talk with us about an idea or a proposal, and we will provide feedback if an application is declined. We are open to funding on any issue important to a community, and we are transparent about who gets funding and share what we are learning. We are stewarding community resources and we take our accountability to the people of the region seriously.

We want everyone to thrive. Equity is central to our purpose. Our equity work applies to every decision we make and reflects a broad commitment to understand and help change the ways our region is not working well for people. We have a particular focus on racial equity and rural equity, and a deep commitment to Native people and the 23 Native nations in our region. We believe that great leadership and great ideas can come from anyone and anywhere and design our processes to be accessible and supportive.

We focus on people. We believe that change happens through people and that the future of the region will be defined by what the people in it believe they can do and be. We directly support people to grow as leaders and we consider every investment we make to be an investment in inspiring, equipping and connecting people for greater impact.

We are grounded in communities. We are a region made up of many different geographic and cultural communities. We prioritize funding for efforts that are shaped and driven by people from the communities impacted by the work, and that are truly inclusive and collaborative. As we fund community-level work, we always have an eye on how ideas can be spread across communities for greater impact.

We work with and through others. We know we cannot understand the issues and opportunities in all the communities in the region and we engage others to help us do good. We rely on the expertise of community leaders with a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to inform our grantmaking and to choose Bush Fellows and Bush Prize winners. We share power through grantmaking partnerships through which Bush dollars are regranted by organizations closer to the communities served.

We embrace risk. As a private foundation, it is easier for us to take on risk than most other kinds of organizations. We try to make great use of our capacity for risk — from investing in bold ideas to using our money to de-risk the investments of others. We make large and long-term commitments to efforts that are thinking big about what is possible — even when the organization is small or new. We provide as much flexibility as possible to grantees and Fellows and trust they know the best ways to use funding for impact.

We work within and across sectors. We know our biggest challenges require the strengths and efforts of nonprofits, government and business. We are intentional about making sure we are supporting problem solving within and across sectors.

We try to be useful across the entire region we serve. We look across our portfolio of grants to ensure that we are supporting impact on lots of issues, in lots of ways, in communities all across the region. We continuously review where applications are coming from and where our money is going. We proactively reach out to people across the region to ensure they are aware of what we have to offer and to ensure we understand how we can be most useful to them.

We are inspired by our founders. We are awed by the generosity of Archie and Edyth Bush and find inspiration in their lives and their philanthropy. We ensure their interests are reflected in our grantmaking, like their love of the arts and belief in the value of education and the critical importance of good leadership.