Blog Entry Economic Opportunity

Foundation Center Begins Work on Black Males

Ever wonder which foundations are making philanthropic investments in support of black men and boys? Are you curious about the tools and resources available to measure the impact of your work? Do you struggle to find high-quality, vetted research that can inform new directions for your programming?

While there’s certainly no shortage of good information available, it’s likely that you have to spend hours poking around the internet to find it and then hours more making sense of it – what’s relevant and well-done and what’s not.

In a data-driven age, one of the keys to organizational sustainability and capacity-building is access to high-quality data “at your fingertips” - data that truly possesses the power to facilitate strategic decision-making and foster collaborative partnerships. Open Society Foundations’ recent grant to the Foundation Center will generate new resources and tools for the field to do just that.

With a database of more than 100,000 foundations, corporate donors, and grantmaking public charities, as well as 2.1 million of their grants, the Foundation Center is the leading source source of information about philanthropy worldwide.

In the upcoming year, the Foundation Center will generate two products that will be relevant your work: 

  1. A comprehensive report analyzing philanthropic giving in support of black men and boys, and
  2. An interactive web portal that will aggregate and curate a collection of resources for both funders and non-profits working on Black Male Achievement.

The forthcoming report will build on previous research and seeks to elevate awareness of this issue among funders, while also providing data that will inform recommendations and long-term strategy for the field. The report will feature its share of quantitative data, including funding patterns by subject and region and top funders and top recipients. At the same time, numbers only tell part of the story. The report will also provide plenty of rich stories to highlight innovative initiatives by both grant-makers and community-based organizations, giving a snapshot of the work going on in the field. It is hoped that these stories can spark dialogue about promising directions and how best to leverage limited foundation dollars for maximum impact. The report is slated for release this summer.

In addition to the funding report, the Foundation Center will build a web portal that will aggregate and curate a host of resources for both funders and non-profits working on Black Male Achievement. The portal will include resources on outcomes and a repository of key reports in the field. Like the report, the site will be a place to share stories of work on the ground and lessons learned.

The portal’s centerpiece will be an interactive funding map. With just a few clicks of the mouse, this robust, dynamic map will help funders and community-based organizations easily find out who’s working on which subject areas, in which communities. It will overlay this information with critical indicators, like socio-economic and education data, providing important context about community needs. Data visualization tools like this make data fun and engaging, allowing users to synthesize and process data far more efficiently than combing through an endless stack of spreadsheets. Users of the Foundation Center’s data visualization tools tell us that the biggest value-add is the ability to identify potential partners in the field and minimize duplication of effort.

The Foundation Center will be working in partnership with all of you as we begin developing these products. We want these resources to be as responsive as possible to the data and information needs of all of you working in the trenches. To learn more about the Foundation Center’s work or to share your organization’s stories or work for inclusion in the report or on the portal, please comment below or contact Seema Shah at the Foundation Center (

Dr. Seema Shah is director of research for special projects at the Foundation Center. She leads projects related to many of the Center's emerging strategic priorities, including international research, new forms of philanthropy, and research on diversity and inclusiveness in the philanthropic sector. The LSI website aims to be a collaborative, open-engagement platform for individuals and organizations interested in advancing their work in Black Male Achievement as well as the overall field. Please join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and feedback using the "leave a reply" link below.


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