Innovating Place-Based Grantmaking: An Evaluation of the Annie E. Casey Foundation “Strategic Co-Investor” Approach

When the Annie E. Casey Foundation launched Family-Centered Community Change™ (FCCC) in 2012, the Foundation set out to make improvements to their approach to place-based grantmaking. The programmatic aim was to support local partnerships to help parents and children succeed together in what is known as a “two-generation approach.” Rather than creating something new, Casey joined existing partnerships—located in Buffalo, New York; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio, Texas—providing technical assistance, trainings, and peer learning opportunities to build upon their ongoing community change efforts—a role the Casey Foundation referred to as a strategic co-investor (SCI).

In the early stage of the project, Casey brought in TCC Group to conduct a unique kind of evaluation—rather than looking at the outcomes of the specific project, the evaluation would flip the lens and focus it on Casey and how they showed up in partnership with the communities in this new approach to place-based work. TCC Group’s collaboration with the Casey Foundation builds on years of place-based learning we’ve undertaken both internally and on behalf of the social sector.

This report examines each aspect of the strategic co-investor approach independently, providing a nuanced description of the concept, evaluation insights, and lessons learned for both funders and grantees. The report is organized by eight components that, operating collectively, comprise the strategic co-investor approach.