Global Health

A Foundation, its Grantees, and the Grassroots

December 5, 2019  • Institute Staff

After 10 years of collaborating with foundations and other clients, the Institute’s Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program is a leader in evaluation and policy-change efforts, especially in reproductive health and reproductive rights. So when the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation asked APEP to examine foundation grants aimed at strengthening local advocacy for access to better reproductive health and family-planning services in sub-Saharan Africa, the program got to work. The foundation plans to shift power, funds, and autonomy to organizations doing work on the ground. But what does that mean in practice? In early October, David Devlin-Foltz, the director of the Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program, joined consultants from Senegal, Kenya, and the United States to present interim findings to foundation staff, grantees, and advocates at work in seven African countries. The message? There is a persistent imbalance of power despite best intentions. Being aware of the sources of that imbalance helps, and so does having explicit and transparent funding agreements between grantees and local partners. APEP will continue to provide the foundation with the most accurate information about what is working—and not working—in their relationships.