In support of the long-term needs of families, the Steelcase Foundation is leading an initiative that will look at how family goals change over time, what structures need to be put in place to assist in achievement of those goals, and how policies can best aid and help families grow and flourish.
The foundation recently announced the launch of the new Investment in Families (IIF) Initiative and has brought on DataWise consulting to support the research and evaluation work.
According to the announcement, the IIF Initiative is a 10-year-long research and policy project.
“Since transformation takes time, the 10-year duration allows us to form relationships, conduct a longitudinal study of 'felt difference' and its impact on families, and adapt to changing needs and conditions,” Stacy Stout, director of family-centered philanthropy at Steelcase Foundation said.
Daniel Williams, president of Steelcase Foundation and CMF trustee, shared that the duration of the program is an attempt to combat the fleeting nature of traditional nonprofit programming and philanthropic investments.
“It supports our understanding of the evolution of families' experience over time. This will allow us to stay with them from early childhood into middle school and, for slightly older kids, from elementary through high school. We will be able to hear directly from families how their goals change over time and how structures and systems hinder or help them throughout the process,” Williams said.
At the center of the initiative will be a cohort of West Michigan Black and Latina mothers who will guide system and policy changes designed to improve the well-being of families. The cohort will consist of 30 Kent County families with children aged 12 and under to follow how the families navigate early childhood through high school.
According to Williams, while traditional economic mobility models define success through attainment, such as an increase in education, income, assets, etc., the initiative is intentionally centering the choice, voice and agency of mothers to apply the interventions as they see fit.
“Additionally, these economic mobility models are often designed to showcase the efficacy of the intervention itself, not the experience of the recipient. The intervention then becomes the basis for advocacy, rather than seeking to advance the innate value and worth of recipients. We believe that this important cultural and narrative shift will ultimately support the desired educational and economic outcomes while humanizing the process and prioritizing root cause systems change,” Williams said.
The Steelcase Foundation hopes to glean insights about community-based giving, policy development and family support to share with policy makers and the broader philanthropic community to achieve better outcomes in communities everywhere.
"I am thrilled about the opportunity to learn together with the mothers as our partners. They are the context experts; their insight is key to creating lasting change. Together, we will work closely with other partners to better understand how the systems impact families in Michigan and how we can transform and advocate for change,” Stout said.
The Steelcase Foundation will share more about the cohort selection process and IIF Initiative partners in the coming months.
Learn more about the IIF Initiative.