Open Society Foundations' Campaign for Black Male Achievement

How does a national foundation with a well-established grantmaking program develop a new idea, incorporating input from numerous and diverse stakeholders that ultimately receives approval and funding from the foundation’s board, investment from other funders, and buy-in from key stakeholders?


Despite decades of hard work by leaders and organizations focused on black male achievement, the difficulties of being a black man or boy in the United States persist. After three years of grantmaking, the Open Society Foundations' Campaign for Black Male Achievement concluded that a separate campaign focused on building the capacity of leaders and organizations committed to improving the life outcomes for black men and boys could, over time, profoundly have an impact on more than one foundation’s grantmaking. Leaders working on behalf of black male achievement have a broad-based and diverse community of stakeholders. CBMA was seeking a business planning process that would incorporate the voices of hundreds of individuals and organizations from multiple sectors, and wanted to thoroughly engage them in a planning process. In addition, they wanted the strategic business plan to ultimately lead to financial support from the Open Society Foundations' board as well as other foundations providing support.

Project Overview

Root Cause engaged stakeholders—by creating and facilitating working groups, conducting surveys and one-on-one interviews, hosting webinars, and creating a lively, communal blog over a 10-month period. Root Cause successfully managed its dual responsibilities to stay true to CBMA’s original vision for the campaign while incorporating a wide range of perspectives and insights offered by diverse stakeholders. Our consultants served as trusted, objective advisors to the foundation, guiding a complex, multifaceted process of creating a blueprint and fundraising tool for what is now known as the Campaign for Black Male Achievement.


Root Cause’s strategic business plan resulted in the raising of $3.6 million dollars to support the first two years of implementation from eight funders to launch the Campaign for Black Male Achievement: Open Society Foundations, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, The California Endowment, Knight Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Carnegie Corporation, Casey Family Programs, and the Mitchell Kapor Foundation.

The plan provided a detailed roadmap supported by a clear mission, set of core values, strategies, and measurable two-year goals. The plan also integrates three approaches that are often siloed: movement building, network building and capacity building. Furthermore, the Campaign has been established as a membership network that within nine months had over 1,500 members.

Relevant expertise and smart problem solving tools.
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Coordinate Action

Root Cause develops business plans that set strategy and articulate a path to implementation that is specific, measurable, and attainable. READ MORE


Business Planning for Enduring Social Impact: A How-to Guide

This guide provides an introduction to business planning for enduring social impact and leads readers through a four-step process for creating an actionable business plan. READ MORE


Workforce Development

This report includes an overview of the social issue, an investment recommendation, information on the return on investment, and ways to take further action. READ MORE

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