Barr Foundation Highlights from 2016

Matt Conti

Counting Down to the New Year with Our Top Blogs from 2016

Five new colleagues, four artist ethnographers, three program strategies, two campaign lessons, and a call for innovative partners

As Barr’s president Jim Canales expressed in his recent post, 2016 was a milestone year for the Barr Foundation. Along the way, we captured many developments, ideas, and voices—of colleagues and partners—on Barr’s blog. Among our most read for the year were posts showcasing new colleagues and new directions for the Foundation, lessons from our partners in the field, and videos documenting innovative solutions. Below, we count down to the New Year with five of our most popular blog topics of 2016:

5…New Colleagues

In 2016, Barr welcomed five new members to its staff: (in the order of their arrival) Jenny Curtin, senior program officer for Education; Roger Nozaki, vice president; Meredith Hatfield, program officer for Clean Energy; Lisa Jacobson program officer for Mobility; and Anya Rooney, IT support engineer. As colleagues settled into their new roles, we interviewed several of them about their various paths to the Foundation, and their early perspectives and priorities for their work at Barr.

Read Ten Questions with Barr’s New Vice President

4…Artist Ethnographers

We debuted several videos on Barr’s blog in 2016. Among them, was a series illustrating how a group of artists infused creativity, imagination, and fun into the Boston Creates planning process. The artist collective known as Department of Play, along with conceptual artist Heather Kapplow, photographer Leonardo March, and musician Shaw Pong Liu, went into different neighborhoods across Boston as “artist-ethnographers” to explore the ways in which Bostonians encountered arts and creativity in their lives.

Read When Artists Are at the Intersection of Planning and Community

(Other videos you may have missed include this one from our Education team, featuring the inspiring voices of students attending innovative high schools intentionally designed for them; and a series from our Global team, as it worked to bring a thoughtful conclusion to Barr’s Global Program).

3…New Program Strategies

In the first quarter of 2016, Barr’s core programs of Arts & Creativity, Education, and Climate each released new strategies to guide grantmaking over the next seven to 10 years. To set the stage with the broad outlines of the new directions and their unifying values and approach, was a message from Barr’s president Jim Canales.

Read Stewards and Catalysts: Barr’s Next Chapter

This post was followed by contributions from each of Barr’s program leads, providing context and rationale for the new areas of focus. Here are the posts by San San Wong (Arts & Creativity), Leah Hamilton (Education), Mariella Puerto (Clean Energy), and Mary Skelton Roberts (Mobility).

2…Lessons from a Winning Campaign

We were fortunate to hear reflections from several of our partners in 2016 on what they’re seeing from other U.S. cities (on mobility) or outside the U.S. (on climate action), as well as how the impact they’re seeing locally (on arts education) could be replicated elsewhere. Among these was a guest post from Elena Letona, executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor (and a 2005 Barr Fellow), sharing two key lessons from a winning campaign to transition a power plant from coal to solar in rural, western Massachusetts.

Read Frame Shift. Then Power Shift.

1…Call for Innovative Schools and Programs

Under a new strategic goal of connecting all students to success in and beyond high school, Barr’s Education program launched its first major initiative. Our director of education, Leah Hamilton recently described an opportunity to partner with Barr on this new work by responding to a request for proposals for innovative public high schools and programs in New England that are designed to support students who are off track to graduate.

Read Barr Seeks Proposals from Innovative Schools and Programs

As we scroll into 2017, we would like to thank our blog readers and contributors for your engagement and partnership in this work. We look forward to sharing more, and hearing more from you in the coming year.

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Mary Duggan

Mary Chalifour

Communications Project Manager