The Bush Foundation’s Change Networks provide cohort-style programs that equip a diverse group of people in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota with skills, knowledge, relationships, and opportunities to lead change in a more equitable and inclusive manner. The curriculum reflects a unique combination of supports (e.g., coaches, elders, confidants, in-person retreats, telephone check-ins, the arts as a strategy, cultural study) tailored to the unique context and histories of the states.
Community Science evaluates the programs on an ongoing basis, reflects on what does and does not work, and discusses and makes midcourse adjustments. We combine surveys, content analysis, and interviews to collect data, and facilitate reflection meetings with the foundation and partners (individually and collectively) to discuss findings. The line of inquiry and analyses are intentional about learning how diversity, inclusion, and equity show up in Change Network participants’ experiences, actions, and outcomes.
Our engagement has helped the Bush Foundation become increasingly thoughtful and strategic about its support for leadership development and has helped the partners learn how to be more targeted in their selection of program candidates and in post-program support. This effort taught and challenged us, the foundation, and the partners in our respective practices to be more inclusive and equitable, both in our collaboration with each other and in our evaluation and program designs. Our evaluation will culminate in a knowledge product for philanthropy and designers and implementers of leadership programs about developing, strengthening, and supporting individuals to lead change in an inclusive and equitable manner.