Changing in Place: The Skillman Foundation, Detroit, and the Good Neighborhoods Initiative -- How did a hometown grantmaker conduct and conclude its largest-ever initiative?

by Bob Tobin; Marie Colombo

Apr 1, 2017

In 2006, the Skillman Foundation committed $100 million to a decade-long investment in six neighborhoods. Through this Good Neighborhoods Initiative, the foundation directed a majority of its grantmaking toward an intensive focus on changing the conditions where, at the time, one-third of Detroit's children lived. The goal was to ensure that children in those places were safe, healthy, well educated, and prepared for adulthood.

The initiative concluded in 2016, ultimately spanning 11 years and involving $122 million in grants, which represented 67 percent of the Foundation's total grant spending in this time frame. Along the way, the foundation reset its strategy and sharpened its goal in response to seismic shifts in the local context and informed by indicators of progress.

To capture information on the unique challenges facing an embedded funder as it changes program direction, Bob Tobin, senior consultant at Williams Group, interviewed Marie Colombo, Skillman Foundation director of strategic evaluation and learning. The interview took place on Dec. 8, 2016.