Investing in Evaluation in 2023

In 2015, Headwaters embarked on a listening tour of past, current, and prospective grantees. That practice of deep listening about what our grantees needed from a philanthropic partner made real changes to how Headwaters does our work to fund community: we shifted funds towards general operating support, prioritized offering multi-year grants, and added support beyond the dollars programming. 

These changes have made our grantmaking more effective and responsive for our grantee partners and we are committed to continuing to grow. So, this year, we’re investing in evaluation again. 

“In 2023 we’re excited to be dedicating our team’s energy to community-centered evaluation of the Black Seed Fund, Fund of the Sacred Circle, and the Giving Project,” said Bilal Alkatout, Director of Program and Grantmaking “These funds are central to how we fund movements for justice throughout Minnesota and we know that taking time to learn from our grantees will make us a stronger partner.” 

Periodic phases of deep community-based evaluation of Headwaters’ programs and grantmaking are critical to the Foundation’s commitment to being a strategic movement partner, and a key element of Headwaters strategic plan. 

“We’ll be working closely with community to understand how our programs and grantmaking can grow to better support grantees as our state’s movement landscape continues to change,” said Program Manager Ray Martinez, “We’re also going to be turning a close eye on our processes in-house so that we can make sure grantees are having smooth, consistent experiences applying for funding with Headwaters.” 

To do this evaluation, Headwaters’ Program team will focus on planning, gathering, and considering community feedback.  

Wakíŋyaŋ LaPointe, Program Officer for Native Communities, has been spending the winter preparing to connect with Fund of the Sacred Circle grantees, grantmakers, and founders. 

“An important part of this evaluation is honoring the collective vision of American Indian elders and community members who founded the Fund of the Sacred Circle,” said LaPointe, “We’ll be in conversation with grantees, community grantmakers, and partners, learning from their experiences and what they envision for the future of the program and how we can be more responsive and aligned with Native values across Minnesota.”  

Taking this time to intentionally connect with our community means that we will not accept applications in 2023 for the Black Seed Fund, Fund of the Sacred Circle, and the Giving Project. We are proud that our commitment to multiyear funding in 2022 means that all Headwaters grantees through these funds will not experience any break in Headwaters funding in 2023. We will be sharing more about upcoming 2023 grantmaking opportunities through other funds soon. 

We are excited to hear from community and look forward to how our learnings will strengthen our work. As we hear from our grantees, we will be share what we learn and how we plan to integrate it into our work.