S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Legacy Collection

In December 2020, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation concluded operations. Founded in 1957, the Foundation was committed to building a productive, vibrant, and sustainable California. In 2009, the Foundation decided to invest all of its assets, or spend down, by 2020 in order to spur significant progress on the challenging issues facing the state in education and environment. This collection features knowledge produced by the Foundation and its partners during its final decade of work. Read concluding reflections from the Foundation's president and learn more about its grantmaking.

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Featured

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 3: 2018-2020

December 14, 2020

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California's critical challenges "sooner rather than later." The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to establish 2020 as the Foundation's end date. In the series, "Sooner Rather Than Later: The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-down Journey", the Foundation documented its journey to inform the interests and practices of other philanthropies that are considering or conducting a spend down. Chapter 3 of the series reports on the Foundation's final years and carries perspectives on major programs and operations across the spend down.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Story
Featured

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 2: 2014-2017

May 1, 2020

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California's critical challenges "sooner rather than later." The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to establish 2020 as the Foundation's end date.In the series, "Sooner Rather Than Later: The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-down Journey", the Foundation documented its journey to inform the interests and practices of other philanthropies that are considering or conducting a spend down. Chapter 2 of the series describes the evolution of the Foundation's major program investments and initiatives during the central spend-down years.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Story
Featured

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 1: 2009-2013

November 1, 2019

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California's critical challenges "sooner rather than later." The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to establish 2020 as the Foundation's end date.In the series, "Sooner Rather Than Later: The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-down Journey", the Foundation documented its journey to inform the interests and practices of other philanthropies that are considering or conducting a spend down. Chapter 1 of the series is a chronicle of the activation of spend-down practices, including the "strategic refresh" that would guide Foundation program investments through its conclusion.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Story
Featured

Sooner Rather Than Later, Prologue: 1957-2008

November 1, 2019

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California's critical challenges "sooner rather than later." The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to establish 2020 as the Foundation's end date.In the series, "Sooner Rather Than Later: The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-down Journey", the Foundation documented its journey to inform the interests and practices of other philanthropies that are considering or conducting a spend down. This series prologue summarizes the evolution and work of the Foundation across five decades of grantmaking, culminating with the decision to spend down all assets.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Story

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Spend-Down Timeline

December 10, 2020

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California's critical challenges "sooner rather than later." The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to establish 2020 as the Foundation's end date. This timeline summarizes the Foundation's most significant programmatic activities in relation to relevant external events, as well as key information about the Foundation's grants, endowment, and staffing, from 2008 (the year prior to the spend-down decision) through 2020.

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation Story

Guiding Principles for Equitable Engagement in Coordinated Planning

September 1, 2020

Five foundations from across the state, known as the Community Foundation Water Initiative, have been working since 2015 to advance sustainable water management solutions. The Initiative partnered with Local Government Commission to develop a report on the Equitable Integration of Water and Land Use which was released in 2019. Shortly following the report, each foundation selected one nonprofit in their region to advance the report's regional recommendations and statewide strategies while building local capacity for coordination. This cohort of five NGOs collaborated for an entire year, culminating their work in this guide.

Land; Water

The Future of California Science: A Story of Leadership, Collaboration, and Legacy

July 1, 2020

As leaders of the teams that implemented and evaluated a six-year statewide effort known as the California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative, the coauthors of this paper have had a front-row seat for implementation of the California NGSS since their adoption in 2013. Coauthor Kathy DiRanna was also strongly involved in the new collaborations formed among science organizations that will be described in this piece. We document this story to attempt to capture the spirit and strategies behind the remarkable collaboration that is bringing forward a new era in state science education practice. We hope this account informs and encourages educational leaders, policymakers, funders, and all who are doing the hard but crucial work of advancing the NGSS and the Common Core.

STEM - Science

Center for Evaluation Innovation Publication Collection

April 30, 2020

Center for Evaluation Innovation is a nonprofit that works with foundation leaders and other evaluators to advance evaluation and learning practice in philanthropy. This collection includes teaching cases, presentations, insights, event summaries, and other publications on a variety of topics related to philanthropy evaluation.

Evaluation Practice

Balancing Site Autonomy and District Priorities for Sustained Mathematics Progress: Three School Case Studies from the Math in Common Initiative

October 1, 2019

From 2013-2018, the Math in Common (MiC) initiative supported 10 California school districts as they began implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. The districts received funding as well as access to a community of practice (CoP) to explore and share improvement strategies for math instruction and systems change. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, the CoP entered a second phase in which funding continued at a reduced rate for districts to sustain their work as a community.To understand the reach of MiC districts' math improvement efforts, WestEd has been conducting teacher focus groups and principal interviews at schools in MiC districts for a series of case studies about implementing and sustaining district-level improvement efforts. Data collection is ongoing, but analysis of findings from our first set of conversations with teachers and principals have identified one common and compelling story about the ongoing challenges of education change in districts.This report focuses on two districts facing significant internal and external forces that challenge coherent and sustained districtwide focus on mathematics improvement and explores how these forces impact educators at three different school sites in those districts.Readers knowledgeable about the history of education change efforts will recognize the familiar tale of how difficult long-term improvement can be in decentralized district systems. At the same time, these examples offer hope that improvement work can persist from year to year even in challenging circumstances.

STEM - Math

Developing Principals' Instructional Leadership: Systems of Support in Two Math in Common Districts

March 1, 2018

Faced with the need to support deep shifts in instructional practice required for the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, the Math in Common districts have been reminded that effective site-based teacher professional learning requires strong site-level mathematics instructional leadership. In order to support meaningful change, principals need to understand what teachers are being asked to shift about their instruction and need to prioritize mathematics at their sites. Accordingly, districts must invest deeply in principals' learning around the mathematics standards. In this report, we share details about how two California districts are approaching professional development to help their principals become instructional leaders in mathematics. We spoke to district leaders and principals to understand how these professional learning programs are affecting principals and the schools and stakeholders with which they work.Looking across the two districts' evolving programs, we identified seven common elements of their professional learning systems that seem to matter most for building administrators' instructional leadership capacity in math:1. Math professional development is built into regular principals' meetings.2. Math professional development is aligned across stakeholder groups.3. Math professional development is designed as a safe collegial learning environment, while reinforcing districtwide and cross-role relationship- and community-building.4. Math professional development highlights and centers around classroom instruction, increasing principals' exposure to specifics of enacted mathematics.5. District observation tools offer principals and teachers a clear picture of the district's math vision and focus.6. Math professional development creates opportunities to practice observing instruction and gathering evidence.7. Principal professional development tied closely to classroom practice emphasizes support to teachers for improving their instruction.While further research is required to understand the results of these professional development programs, we encourage stakeholders to consider offering similarly coherent and targeted support for principals to help them become effective site leaders in standards-aligned mathematics instruction.

STEM - Math

Three Structures in the Garden Grove Unified School District That Support Implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics

April 1, 2017

Now that California has been implementing the Common Core State Standards in mathematics (CCSS-M) for several years, many educators are interested in learning how districts across the state are faring. To provide some timely information on this topic, WestEd performed a year-over-year analysis of 2015 and 2016 data from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in mathematics for the 10 Math in Common (MiC) districts.Specifically, we used the 2015 baseline CAASPP scores for the MiC districts' elementary, middle, and K-8 schools to create a prediction analysis for each school site's 2016 scores. We then compared actual CAASPP performance to the predicted scores for demographically similar schools across California. By showing which school sites overperformed and underperformed compared to the predictions, the findings allowed districts to look beyond demographic factors (which were statistically controlled for in our analyses) and see achievement in a new light.While all of the MiC districts showed promising and interesting patterns of improvement versus their predicted scores, one that particularly stood out was Garden Grove Unified School District, where many schools significantly outperformed their predicted scores for 2016. These positive results provoked curiosity among districts and partners involved with the MiC initiative. We set out to explore what exactly was happening in Garden Grove to support this positive performance and what other districts might learn from Garden Grove's efforts.To find out, a team of researchers from WestEd traveled to Garden Grove and interviewed district and site administrators as well as some of the teachers on special assignment (TOSAs) who play a crucial role in the district system. We also examined artifacts such as budgets and grant reports. This look inside Garden Grove's district-wide efforts offers practical information for other districts to consider when thinking about their own efforts to support and implement the Common Core State Standards in mathematics (CCSS-M). However, because the life of a school district is immeasurably more colorful and complex than what can be revealed through a few days of interviews, our findings are not meant to be read as a definitive account of Garden Grove's CCSS-M implementation activities.

STEM - Math

A Date Certain: Case Studies of Three Limited Life Foundations

March 1, 2017

A companion publication of case studies of three of the foundations featured in "A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations": the Lenfest Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, and Brainerd Foundation.

Spend-down and Exit Practice

About this collection:   Presidents reflections | Intellectual property