Children, Youth, and Families

The research, advice, and insights below were created for people interested in increasing the impact of nonprofit organizations focused on serving children and young adults. They include insights into overcoming the challenges of providing high-quality youth services as well as examples of specific organizations and successful initiatives. (Please also visit our education section for related materials.)

Featured Research

Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children: A Funder's Guide to Early Childhood Development from Birth to Five

Remarkably, one in four American children come from low-income families and enter kindergarten not ready to learn and, as a result, fall behind from the very start. Achieving Kindergarten Readiness for All Our Children aims to change that. This guide offers numerous specific, evidence-based public investment opportunities private donors and government can pursue immediately to make an impact.

Needle-Moving Community Collaboratives Revisited: Profiles in Persistence and Progress

In Needle Moving Community Collaboratives Bridgespan described a number of communities that worked collaboraitvely across business, government, philantrhopy, and nonprofits to produce measurable improvement on a challenging community issue. For this follow-up article we went back to the 11 communities whose collaborations remained active and looked at their patterns of persistence and progress over the past three years. While we did find progress, we also uncovered a set of common challenges that have foced them to learn and evolve in different ways.

Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for a Successful Strategy

While many companies are interested in unlocking the promise to be found in young people, most don't know how to create a successful youth employment strategy. This white paper identifies common barriers that block many employers from developing a business-focused youth talent pipeline and offers practical strategies successful companies are using to overcome such barriers.

Putting Clients at the Center: A Planning Guide for Multi-Service Organizations

This planning guide is for multi-service organizations interested in providing integrated services to clients, whether youth or adults, so that these clients can achieve long-term positive outcomes. Based primarily on the experiences of Four Oaks, a large multi-service organization serving children and families in eastern Iowa, the guide lays out a three-step approach to putting clients at the center.

Four Pillars of Growth for Youth-Serving Nonprofits

In 2009 the Bridgespan Group set out to study the factors critical to the growth of youth-serving organizations. We discovered that growth was rarely an unexpected windfall, but rather, more often the reward for nonprofit leaders' greater emphasis on key management disciplines.

Growing Network Impact

For decades, the primary pressure facing nonprofit networks was to build a bigger footprint—be in more places, serve more people. Now that pressure is being equaled by another: to get better. This executive summary outlines five critical elements for network improvement.

The View from the Cliff: Government-Funded Nonprofits Are Looking Out on Steep Cuts and an Uncertain Future

With most stimulus money gone and large local, state and federal spending cuts looming, a Bridgespan Group study examines how government-funded nonprofits are faring and what they believe the future holds for them.

Practical Advice and Case Studies

Business Planning for Nonprofits: What It Is and Why It Matters

Sometimes, the best thing about having a business plan is the process an organization’s leaders go through to develop it. The process encourages strategic thinking not only while the plan is being created, but also during its implementation.

Getting Replication Right: The Decisions That Matter Most for Nonprofit Organizations Looking to Expand

Are you sure that replicating is right for your organization? And if so, are you ready? This paper examines the potential benefits and difficult challenges that confront organizations looking to grow through replication and features several youth-serving organizations as examples.

Harlem Children's Zone: Learning to Grow with Purpose

Under Geoffrey Canada’s leadership, the Rheedlen Centers for Families and Children transformed itself into a more focused, outcomes driven organization renamed Harlem Children’s Zone, an organization dedicated to ensuring the children it serves succeed. The changes set the organization on a growth path and attracted long-term funding.

More Bang for the Buck

Three nonprofit organizations found ways to streamline their work while driving down their costs per outcome, the true measure of productivity. Lower costs per outcome show that a nonprofit's drive for efficiency and investments in people and processes create more bang for the buck.

MY TURN: Preparing for Regional Growth

MY TURN was a relatively small youth-serving organization with a solid set of programs and strong track record of results, when, encouraged by the impacts of its programs, its board and management decided it was time accelerate growth and expand geographically. To do this confidently, MY TURN needed a clear strategy to develop a purposeful plan for growth.

Progress and Challenges in the Youth Development Field

An expert panel convened by Bridgespan explored the future of nonprofits serving young people, discussing, among other things, innovations in the field and the need for a more holistic approaches.

The Steppingstone Foundation: A Case Study in Growing to Full Potential

The Steppingstone Foundation's management and board knew that its program was having an impact and it was seeing results, but how much more could they realistically accomplish? To determine whether the organization could serve more kids, it would first have to determine what changes would need to be made to support its growth.

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