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Our Strategic Evolution

Eye on Strategy by Lynn Alvarez, Vice President, Programs & Strategy

January 11, 2023

Over the course of my career in philanthropy, I have had the opportunity to engage in many strategic planning processes. One of the things that stands out about the process ECMC Foundation embarked upon with our Board of Directors last year is how committed the organization is to long-term, systemic change in postsecondary education.

By focusing on systemic change, we aim to get at the root cause of complex challenges in higher education, not just the symptoms. Simply put, we are working to change the rules of the game so students who were not given a fair shot can win. Historically, higher education was designed to help privileged individuals to go on to achieve greater levels of success. While admissions have opened up postsecondary access to students from different backgrounds, much has stayed the same. Marginalized populations face barriers to postsecondary completion. Institutions, systems and organizations lack the resources needed to overhaul old structures and provide better supports for students of the 21st century. Fundamentally, the postsecondary ecosystem functions in a way that allows preferential treatment for students from certain classes, certain zip codes, and certain racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Next year will mark ECMC Foundation’s 10th anniversary as a strategic grantmaker aimed at driving systemic change. Our new strategic framework will allow the organization to continue to grow our grants and investments in pursuit of our mission to improve higher education for career success among underserved populations through evidence-based innovation. As we implement our new approach, we remain committed to being transparent and accessible to our grantees. Much of this work will be internal, and we anticipate that grantees and investees will continue to interact with the Foundation as they always have.

We have received a lot of great questions about the strategic framework and are in the process of providing answers. Be sure to check out our FAQ, which is updated regularly.

I want to personally thank you for your curiosity and patience during this process. Your feedback is vital as we continue to grow as a learning organization committed to embodying a culture of humility and responsiveness.


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