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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2014, the Bush Foundation made a number of changes to enhance the Bush Fellowship program’s flexibility, selectivity and visibility. Wilder Research surveyed the 2014 Bush Fellowship semi-finalist and finalist candidates, and selection committee members to evaluate the impact of the changes to the selection process. This Learning Paper shares insights gleaned from this survey.
We launched the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI) in 2009, with the goal of preparing and placing 25,000 new, effective teachers within our service region by 2020. Four years into this 10-year, $40 million initiative, we hired an independent evaluator, the Improve Group, to conduct a midterm evaluation to report on progress and challenges thus far. Their review was conducted through interviews and focus groups with individuals from our higher education partner institutions, their teacher candidates and K-12 partners, and initiative coaches from FHI360. This learning paper summarizes our learning from the report, and highlights implications for the initiative going forward.