By the Garfield Team – Motaz, Mollie, Jessica, Jennie, Ruth, Eleni & Jen

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

This New Year, we are feeling, at once,
the many dimensions
of the moment

We are frazzled, unsettled, turbulent, stressed

We saw the abuse of power,
over and over, Me before We

We are tired
of too little done, too often too late

We are present
to the enormous loss —
of loved ones to COVID,
of jobs,
of values shared,
of senses of self,
of the warmth of in-person times

We are raw — yet
we remain open-hearted,
optimistic

We are grateful for the love that…


Moving from urgency to practice

By Eleni Sotos

From the vantage point of October 2020, it feels almost cliché to say that the need for systems change has never been more urgent. Among the many devastating emergencies we face, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed society’s systemic fragility due in part to the interconnections between many of the core issues we face, such as securing access to health care, quality education, food security, economic security, and responsible governance. The past seven months have indeed made it painfully clear that there is no such thing as a discrete issue. …


With reflection on our approach to grantmaking

By Ruth Rominger with support from the team

At the Garfield Foundation, we think of our communications as an open kitchen, a window into our experiments with philanthropy, systems thinking, and collaborative networks in service of accelerating the transition to a just and sustainable world for all. It’s our hope that by learning out loud we will spark generative discussions that help advance and expand the practice of systems change. In this spirit, with this piece we’d like to shine a light on our most recent grants and share some reflections on our approach to grantmaking. …


By the Garfield Team – Jennie, Mollie, Motaz, Ruth, Eleni, Jen, and Jessica

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Incensed, heartbroken, activated. These are some of the emotions we feel in response to the senseless racial injustice and violence we’re witnessing in the present moment. …


Debra Erenberg on the Cancer Free Economy Network’s response to COVID-19

By Jessica Conrad

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold with some states moving to reopen their economies, we’ve been following a bright spot in the story of the social sector’s response to the public health emergency. It is the story of how systems-informed collaborative networks are effectively and efficiently responding to the emerging needs of member organizations in crisis by leveraging their organizational systems to mobilize funding — in effect, playing a role that individual funders are typically not able to fill on short notice.

This conversation with Debra Erenberg is the second of two interviews with collaborative network…


Melissa Gavin on the RE-AMP Network’s response to COVID-19

By Jessica Conrad

It’s the moment of the novel coronavirus. A time defined by an unusual paradox. Stay-at-home orders physically confine us to our most familiar spaces, yet we find ourselves navigating profoundly unfamiliar and uncertain spaces in every realm of life. Melissa Gavin, chief network officer with the RE-AMP Network, reflects that “the playbook has been thrown out the window,” especially for organizations with small budgets and for those that rely on in-person organizing to both advance their work and fundraise. …


Guiding themes for working together toward transformational change

By Ruth Rominger

Here at the Garfield Foundation, we’ve been supporting and promoting experimentation with collaborative networks for 15 years in pursuit of an approach that helps grantees and funders engaged in monumental systems change agendas create greater impacts. The practices that make up collaborative networks have often been criticized as creating “too much process” in a field that prioritizes action and quick outcomes. Turns out, we’ve discovered these process-practices are the means and ends necessary for systems change.

We see in our work (and similar work) that when a group of people with sufficiently different perspectives and skills come…


Our response to the moral urgency of the times

By the Garfield Team – Jennie, Ruth, Eleni, Jen, Motaz, Mollie and Jessica

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Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

The threshold of a new decade offers a rare opportunity for restating, reenergizing, and recommitting to our vision. We are writing today both in that spirit and with a pronounced sense of moral urgency.

It’s challenging to feel anything but uncertain about our collective capacity as a global society for creating the change we desperately need this decade, with the climate crisis escalating to a state of emergency, with studies revealing a constant exposure to human-made toxic substances, with strong evidence of destabilized political systems around the…


Our path to discovering our niche

By Ruth Rominger

Why does the Garfield Foundation invest, almost exclusively, in the development and evolution of systems-informed collaborative networks? What exactly are these networks, anyway? We probably couldn’t have even imagined being asked either of these questions in the early 2000s. At the time, we were asking ourselves a different, although ultimately related, set of questions about how we might experiment with new ways of working to help address the challenges we observed in the field of philanthropy.

Our answer to those questions was to experiment with a systems-informed approach to tackling a complex sustainability challenge that we would…


Designing change in our complex world

By Jessica Conrad

It’s likely no secret to any of you that the world is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to navigate. We see some striking evidence in the contradictions our current systems create. Take, for example, housing in the United States. According to recent data from Amnesty International, roughly 18.5 million homes stood vacant across the country within the last decade, while 3.5 million individuals were unsheltered. Or take our food system, which offers yet another unsettling example, with the United States Department of Agriculture reporting that 11.8 percent of American households experienced food insecurity within the last two…

The Garfield Foundation

We support changemakers in creating greater impact through systems-based collaborative networks. This is the space where we’re sharing our learning.

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