A Year of Reflection

Posted on July 1, 2018

After 57 years of philanthropic activity, The Prospect Hill Foundation’s board of directors made an unprecedented decision on September 27, 2016 to suspend usual grantmaking from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 to:

  • reflect upon its strategic framework and impact;
  • evaluate its grants and grantmaking programs;
  • learn about trends in philanthropy and meet with other family foundations; and
  • improve its administrative operations.

We began our “Year of Reflection” by interviewing many grantee organizations, asking them about their perceptions, needs and opinions about philanthropy, their sector and their capacity. Their answers affirmed what we already knew or suspected, but also provided new ideas about how we can be more effective in the future.

Although The Prospect Hill Foundation is a modestly-sized family foundation, we learned that we can extend our impact (and indeed have successfully done so in various ways in recent years) beyond our limited grant funds. We are now recommitting to using all our resources in creative and bold ways to amplify the work and agendas of our grantees. Over the next year, we plan to share what we learned with the sector, and in particular with other family foundations similar to ours.

One important decision resulting from our “Year of Reflection” is to initiate the creation of a new program area. This will unfold gradually over the next two years. This new program area will build upon the justice work the Foundation has been supporting and will focus on youth. Our intent is to fund intersectional and grassroots efforts that are community led and that challenge systemic racism and gender-based oppression, including poverty and discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status. We do not have any specifics yet, and will use the next “Year of Learning” to continue research and exploration around different forms of systemic oppression related to youth.

During the next two years, we will begin to slowly phase out of three current program areas: Youth Justice, Reproductive Health & Justice and Oceans & Coastal Waters. We will continue our funding of policy research, analysis and advocacy related to Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation.