Marguerite Casey Foundation
In 2001, Casey Family Programs was one of the nation’s largest operating foundations, investing over a billion dollars since 1966 in programs and services to benefit children and families in the child welfare system.
And its leaders had an even more ambitious vision.
Casey Family Programs worked with williamsworks’ founder to design and launch a strategic grant-making organization– an organization with the flexibility and capacity to effect large-scale change in a shifting economic and political climate.
Asking the hard questions, and testing the answers
We started with a simple question: how can we make things just a little easier for a lot of people who are struggling? But that one question quickly turned into many. What are the areas of most critical need for families living in poverty? How can we best address those needs? Should we start broad and shallow, or narrow and deep?
Together with Casey’s leadership, we brought together families, community leaders, civic officials and activists in six of the most impoverished cities in the country to share insights on how to improve the lives of struggling families and their children. We commissioned numerous white papers and reports from leading experts to test those insights with rigorous quantitative analysis. And slowly and carefully, together with the Casey Family Programs leadership, we developed a methodical and impactful grant-making structure for what would soon become the Marguerite Casey Foundation.
Building the right team
By now the Marguerite Casey Foundation was a remarkable vision, but a remarkable vision can only be brought to life by an equally remarkable group of people. So we worked with the Casey Family Programs team to identify, recruit and build a team of experts committed to realizing that vision. In partnership with Casey, we began a rigorous, global search to fill key executive roles, drawing on our network of extraordinary individuals in the public and private sectors, and eventually securing top candidates for President & CEO as well as five valuable board members.
We then worked closely with that leadership team to build their individual profiles, leverage their personal networks, and develop a long-term and sustainable organizational staffing model to recruit further core staff. Over the first four years we continued to help recruit and train the foundation team, while providing advisory services to the leadership. In those early years, williamsworks’ founder also continued to act as external relations lead, including all matters of policy and communications, while the organization hit its stride.
Today, barely a decade after its founding, MCF grants more than $20 million annually to help low-income families strengthen their voice and mobilize their communities in order to achieve a more just and equitable society for all. williamsworks is privileged to have played a role in the formation and direction of this incredible organization. Additional contributions include:
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- Provided guidance on the creation of the Board of Directors’ structure and bylaws
- Commissioned Different Incomes, Common Dreams, a comprehensive study focused on attitudes of Americans, particularly low-income families' attitudes, before and after Hurricane Katrina, and shared it broadly through mainstream media and strategically targeted thought leaders and policymakers
- Developed The Earned Income Tax Credit: Analysis and Proposals for Reform and strategically distributed among Members of Congress, nonprofits and grantees
- Conceptualized and executed high-profile events to advance policy initiatives through key government leaders, media, press, and advocacy efforts
- Provided strategic positioning support for the President & CEO with key thought leaders including business leaders, policymakers and other influential individuals, organizations and institutions in their target communities nationwide