Assessment of Bank of America Charitable Foundation's Neighborhood Builders® Program

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Summary

Bridgespan helped the Bank of America Foundation assess progress to date of, and identify improvement opportunities for, its Neighborhood Builders program, which provides unrestricted grants and two to three weeks of leadership development training for nearly 100 community-based nonprofits annually.

The Bridgespan Group conducted a third-party assessment of The Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s Neighborhood Builders® program, a philanthropic initiative to enhance the nonprofit sector by providing leadership training and unrestricted funding to high-performing nonprofits in 45 communities. Since its inception in 2004, the Neighborhood Builders program has trained nearly 1,200 leaders in nearly 600 community-based organizations that provide critical support to predominantly low and moderate income individuals.

Through this research, we discovered that the program combines a set of unique elements: rigorously selecting community-based organizations through local committees of leaders, pairing leadership training with a meaningful unrestricted grant, training both the executive director and an emerging leader, and fostering relationships within a network that has grown to 1,200 nonprofit leaders. Our evaluation also suggests a strong link between what the program does (its inputs and activities) and its impact on leaders, organizations and communities (intermediate and ultimate outcomes).

This report details our research goals and results. Our assessment highlights the importance of articulating and measuring against a detailed theory of change to quantify effectiveness of a leadership development program and improve its design and outcomes. It also emphasizes the positive impact the leaders and the organizations that participated in the program have had on their communities, reinforcing the value of nonprofit leadership development. 

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