Bush Foundation Learning Papers & Reports

We publish Learning Papers when we have lessons that we think could help others do their work better or help our community in a broader way. We want to share what we are learning as we invest in great ideas and the people who power them.

Goals for a Decade: Revisited

Published
May 2019

What happened and what the Bush Foundation learned from 2008’s “Goals for a Decade” strategy.

FHI 360 provided in-depth coaching support for each of the 14 partner higher education teacher preparation programs through much of the 10-year initiative. This report will summarize their reflections from this work and offer recommendations to the field.

A Call To Action: Increasing Opportunities for Native American Student Success
We brought together Native education experts from across the region to create a collective vision for how to increase opportunities for Native student success.

This report aims to share and illustrate the ways we invest in the Native nations and people in our region across all of our programs.

Data for this report was gathered from the Bush Foundation’s internal database: grant data was available since 1970, grant payments and amounts were available since 1982, and grants were categorized by our current program areas since 2012. 

Changing organizational culture takes intention and time. At the Bush Foundation, we’ve spent the last five years creating a more inclusive culture internally so that we can be more effective externally. From the people, to the programs, to the policies and processes — we’re working to build an organizational culture that is inclusive in action, diverse in makeup and driving towards equity.

In this paper, we want to highlight the questions and decisions we’ve made and what we’ve learned. Not because we’ve done it all right, or because we’re done. Other organizations have plowed this ground deeper and further than the Bush Foundation, and we’ve looked to them and learned from them. But with the benefit of some hindsight, here’s what we’ve learned, five years in.

In 2017, the we commissioned Social Policy Research Associates (SPR) to conduct baseline research on the state of individualized learning across the region in order to inform the our education initiative. 

Lessons From the Process of Creating the Native Governance Center

This report documents the development of the Native Governance Center, beginning with our work supporting the self-determination of Native nations, through the emergence of a fully independent, Native-led 501(c)(3) organization in 2015.

Reflections on five years of working to make the Bush Foundation more permeable.

Reflections on five years of strengthening the Bush Foundation through improved Board-staff relations.

Reflections on five years of people-centered philanthropy.

Reflections on five years of embedding our belief in the power of people in our own operations.

Reflections on five years of communicating for impact.

bushCONNECT: Three Years Out

Published
October 2017

Using events to inspire, equip and connect leaders.

We launched a new CRM platform as well as an interconnected grantmaking system on January 1, 2016 after 18 months of planning, designing and testing with a dedicated technology consulting firm. We wanted to leverage new technology solutions that could help us be more effective at grantmaking, and therefore serve the region better. One thing we really cared about was making sure our staff was prepared to use the system and that the Foundation would be able to benefit from it, so we did a number of things to ensure user adoption. This learning paper summarizes what we took away from the process that might inform others looking to make sure staff are best equipped to embrace a new system.

For over 50 years the Leadership Programs invested directly in individuals through the Bush Fellowship Program. In mid-2014, we decided to expand our reach to support organizations that foster the development of leaders while simultaneously creating networks and connections amongst leaders. This pilot program was known as Leadership Network Grants.

We engaged Next Street to help us explore how best to support the capital needs of local social purpose businesses. 

In 2015 the Bush Foundation took a unique approach to develop a new program strategy: we created a one-time grant program to provide operating support to exemplary organizations while involving them in the design of a new ongoing program. We did this through the Community Creativity Cohort, a learning cohort of 16 regional organizations who informed our future arts and culture strategy—work that has since become our Community Creativity Strategic Initiative. 

A review of the processes and elements of organizational culture that help organizations in their pursuit of community innovations. 

In 2009, we launched our ten-year Teacher Effectiveness Initiative based on the theory that better teacher preparation programs would lead to more effective teachers and, in turn, improved student outcomes. This report examines the measurement systems used to understand the effectiveness of diffferent strategies.

This report documents the plans, processes and perceptions surrounding development and launch of a redesign project. 

We launched the Native Nations Initiative in 2009 to support governance reform efforts of all 23 Native nations that share geography with Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Five years into this 10-year initiative, Wilder Research assessed our progress and challenges, interviewing program participants, tribal leadership and regional leaders from the field. This learning paper summarizes Wilder’s evaluation.

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