We are committed to learning from our efforts and continuously improving in pursuit of the greatest impact.

Through learning and evaluation, we seek meaningful, actionable, and manageable insights to inform our strategies and the field.

Ultimately, we aspire to strengthen our partners, maximize the impact of Barr’s resources over time, and by sharing our learning, shape and improve practice and policymaking beyond our direct investments. We strive to maintain a consistent focus on continuous improvement and learning, including learning what doesn’t work.

Jim Canales on philanthropy, risk, and learning from failure:

At Barr, we seek to learn at multiple levels, from individual grants to initiatives and overall strategies.

Our Approach to Learning and Evaluation

In addition to engaging with formal learning and evaluation partners on major initiatives, Barr also seeks to learn alongside its partners on each grant to understand how their work is progressing, what has been achieved, and what challenges and barriers they encounter.

Programs and Strategies:

The Barr Foundation works to elevate the arts, advance solutions for climate change, and to connect all students to success in high school and beyond. We believe that the most effective strategies are never static, so we evaluate and reflect in order to refine and adapt our strategies in these program areas based on what we learn along the way, our partnerships with others, and in response to shifts in the external environment.

Initiatives:

Given the value we place on long-term partnerships, Barr’s grantmaking can take the form of multi-year initiatives that support multiple partners tackling complex problems across our region. We believe these initiatives are significant learning opportunities for Barr, its partners, and the field. Our evaluations of these initiatives are designed to prioritize meaningful and actionable information to improve the work of our grantees and inform Barr’s strategic decision-making.

Grants:

Barr shares with its grantees a commitment to learn from what we are doing and continuously improve our efforts in pursuit of the greatest impact. By engaging with grantees on measurable outputs and outcomes for each grant, we aim to better understand how the work is progressing, what has been achieved, and what challenges and barriers they have encountered. The lessons learned from each grant also inform Barr’s broader learning and decision-making about its initiatives, strategies, and programs.

Curious about learning and evaluation work in progress?

Knowledge Center

Check out a sample of relevant shared learning on the Foundation Center’s website.

Barr's Knowledge Center

Grantee Feedback

In Fall 2017, Barr commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct a confidential survey of our grantees about what it's like to work with us—the Grantee Perception Report (GPR). Read more about the results from our survey and our plans to act on grantee feedback:

Read Roger and Jim's blog: 'Typical Isn't Good Enough'
Read Roger's blog: 'The Value of Constructive Feedback'

We welcome your ideas

We always strive to improve our grantee and grant-seeker experience, and we welcome your input via our grantmaking process feedback form.

Submit feedback

Meet the Team

Inquiries

Barr aims to increase diversity within the Foundation's current pool of research and evaluation partners. We encourage those whose skills and areas of expertise align with our priorities to introduce themselves. Submit introductions via email to ybelanger@barrfoundation.org.

Learning and Evaluation News