Welcome Letter

An Introduction from The Kresge Foundation Human Services Program

The Kresge Foundation and our Human Services program are pleased to share our learnings from the second iteration of the Next Generation Initiative, a groundbreaking national cohort of both public and community-based organizations from across the country dedicated to centering racial equity and racial justice to advance multigenerational family economic success. The cohort grew together through a two-year learning journey that was co-created and informed by the cohort members and the Next Generation advisors led by Harvard University’s Leadership for a Networked World and The Kresge Foundation’s Human Services Program with support from evaluation partner Engage R&D. We hope that these lessons can inform, inspire, and move throughout the nonprofit, public, and philanthropic sectors.

When the NextGen group came together in the summer of 2019, no one could have predicted the period of social dislocation and racial awakening we were about to enter: The COVID-19 Pandemic, the murder of George Floyd that brought the senseless killings of African Americans to the forefront, a heightened national conversation about racial equity and justice, and an insurrection that threatened the foundations of the nation’s democracy. It was immediately clear that the front-line work of organizations like those in the cohort could not be more relevant.

The Human Service Program’s North Star is the advancement of multigenerational family economic success. But that North Star is in service of the transcendent objective of eradicating injustice, eliminating a person’s zip code and skin color as the predictors of life outcomes, and ensuring that all members of society have equal opportunity to live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives. The path of resistance is high, however. The NextGen cohort comprises organizations and individuals who are doing the hard work of deconstructing obstacles to create an architecture of equity and justice. These partners embrace a shared vision and deliver on it driven by a commitment to families and communities- We salute them.

Philanthropy is – at least relatively speaking – unconstrained by the business or political cycles that circumscribe the freedom of action of the private and public sectors. It is a profound privilege. It is accompanied by an affirmative obligation to operate in a manner that is unconstrained by volatile sociopolitical ideologues and free from the restraints of a too often prohibitive regulatory and funding environment. This obligation requires a challenge to traditional methods of problem-solving, allowing solutions to be found in unexplored places designed with community. That is exactly the charge of the NextGen Initiative.

The NextGen Initiative is an incubator for novel approaches and a place of cross-pollination among organizations. The cohort created a space that relied on its effectiveness on the humility, fallibility, honesty, and adaptability of every participant. Power was shared and used in service of others, creating the impetus to pursue both large-scale systems change and the most tangible of direct impacts on the individual level.

All of the organizations in our cohort have an emphasis on multigenerational family economic success, driven by a two-generation (2gen) approach. A two generation approach is an anti poverty solution. The Next Generation initiative demonstrates the importance of an intentional focus on person centered systems change resulting in multigenerational family economic success.

We are inspired by the creativity that our cohort members brought to their work. We are confident that the NextGen Initiative deepened, fortified, and accelerated that creativity, spurring a new generation of thought and practice in human services. We are assured that our cohort members will continue to touch the lives of the communities they serve. We know that their impact on their communities will only grow.

As our society continues its journey towards justice, we are sure that our cohort will help lead us there.

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
Kresge Foundation

Participant Testimonials

What progress has your organization made
in the past two years?

"Our integrated data system (data warehouse) pulls together data from not only our human services systems, but also from education, healthcare, criminal justice, public benefits and more."

Allegheny County Department of Human Services