Strengthening Equity-Centered Strategic Learning Capacity


Project Overview


To strengthen the strategic learning capabilities of education nonprofits to improve internal functioning in service of their goals to advance equitable education.                                                                                                                                       

Project Motivation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognized a need to provide targeted support for its K-12 education grantees to develop their strategic learning capabilities, believing that improving organizational strategic learning can strengthen their efforts to achieve equitable outcomes for students.

Partners in Progress

Catalyst:Ed, Engage R&D, We All Count, Crocus


Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), College Advising Corps, Equal Opportunity Schools, Impact Florida, Instruction Partners, New Profit, Pivot Learning, Turnaround for Children, UnboundEd

Prepared For

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Strategic learning is the set of efforts that enables organizations to set goals; establish hypotheses on how to reach their goals; build strong organizational practices and systems that support implementing and testing those hypotheses; and use information to improve their model on an ongoing basis. It is a means of building equity further into the fabric of organizations’ goals, learning, and decisions.

Grantees in the Capacity Building for Strategic Learning Initiative are sophisticated, equity-focused changemakers in the education landscape and experts on their own strategic learning needs. When given the time and resources to bolster internal practices and systems while being relieved of the pressure to provide immediate evaluation data to funders, grantees can “learn how to learn” and grow their ability to make an impact in equitable education.

Mathematica and Catalyst:Ed served as partners to the Gates Foundation and its grantees to strengthen equity-centered strategic learning. In this role as an intermediary, Mathematica facilitated activities on behalf of the foundation, including helping grantees identify and address their organizational needs, as well as supporting grantee-to-grantee relationships by fostering a peer learning community that offered webinars, interactive discussions, and social events. Throughout the initiative, Mathematica also collected data on the efficacy of this type of initiative to share with the Gates Foundation and funders to advocate for further supporting their grantees’ strategic learning efforts. Catalyst:Ed developed a framework to articulate the key capacities needed for strategic learning, facilitated self-reflection activities with the grantees, developed project scopes for capacity building, and matched grantees with providers that would execute the scope of work.

Strategic Learning

Key Terms to Know

Capacity Building

See Clearly. Act Quickly.

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