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  • Architectural photo of a glass building with two pink and purple lines running vertically through it.

    publication May 2024

    Learning Habits for Equity

    A complement to a previous CEI resource on five essential learning habits, this brief shows how these learning habits (making thinking visible, asking powerful questions, combating biases, attending to causal inference, answering the now what question) can be used to help advance equity.

    By Julia Coffman, Dr. Albertina Lopez

    Learning Habits for Equity
  • publication Jul 2022

    A Tool for Systems Change that Supports Learning in Foundations

    Foundations are systems. They have their own cultures and related assumptions, norms, standards, and practices. We encourage foundations to take stock of their learning needs with a dispassionate (evaluative) look at themselves as systems and how people work within them.

    By Tanya Beer, Julia Coffman, Jane Reisman

    A Tool for Systems Change that Supports Learning in Foundations
  • Black and white graphic of person walking in the rain holding an umbrella. Some raindrops are in CEI's colors (indigo, pink, light indigo)

    publication Apr 2021

    Approaches to Learning Amid Crises: Reflections from Philanthropy

    Explore how foundations’ approaches to learning shaped their responses to the crises of 2020. In interviews with seven foundations from Canada and the U.S. in the summer and fall of 2020, the authors applied the lens of organizational learning to how each of these foundations made sense of their reality, asked different kinds of questions to inform their thinking, and acted in new or different ways as a result.

    By Tanya Beer, Julia Coffman, Dr. Albertina Lopez, Ben Liadsky, Andrew Taylor

    Approaches to Learning Amid Crises: Reflections from Philanthropy
  • insight Jun 2018

    Precipitating Events and Rewards in Making a Habit of Learning

    Better habits around learning are critical to improving philanthropic practice. This piece looks at what needs to happen before and after habit change to make a new way of working stick.

    By Kat Athanasiades

    Precipitating Events and Rewards in Making a Habit of Learning
  • insight Jun 2018

    5-A-Day: Learning By Force of Habit

    Establishing a learning organization or culture is such a big goal that it can overwhelm our ability to act on it. This piece, published on Medium, explores how building learning habits into common routines makes it more manageable, and creates small wins that can lead to big change. Focusing on habits ensures that learning is not a separate activity, but rather is integrated into our day-to-day work.

    By Julia Coffman

    5-A-Day: Learning By Force of Habit
  • insight May 2018

    Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Consequences of Small Failures in Learning

    It was the worst U.S. maritime disaster in three decades, involving an experienced captain with a reputation for safety. This article, published on Medium, explains went wrong and what it can teach us about the often-overlooked factors that affect our learning and decisions.

    By Julia Coffman

    Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Consequences of Small Failures in Learning
  • publication Jan 2018

    Evaluation Coaching: Light Up Your Client’s Expertise

    The practice of coaching is gaining momentum in the evaluation profession, and more evaluators are including it in their skill set. This brief introduces the use of coaching in evaluation capacity building, and provides principles and three tools for integrating coaching into evaluation practice.

    Evaluation Coaching: Light Up Your Client’s Expertise
  • publication Sep 2017

    On the Other Side of Complexity: The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program

    Under the direction of a new president, The McKnight Foundation embarked on a process to imbue learning at every level of one of its signature international programs: the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP). This teaching case explores the creation, implementation, and ongoing refinement of an evaluation and learning approach for CCRP from 2008 to 2017. 

    On the Other Side of Complexity: The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program
  • presentation Sep 2017

    Better, Faster, Results – Supporting Learning for Multiple Audiences

    How can foundations build an approach that is connected to robust data and information and supports the many learning needs of multiple actors? This presentation for the 2017 Evaluation Roundtable convening is on strategies for supporting learning in philanthropy. It presents questions, challenges, and implications for foundation practice.

    By Tanya Beer, Kat Athanasiades, Julia Coffman

    Better, Faster, Results – Supporting Learning for Multiple Audiences
  • insight Jul 2017

    FaceTime, Open Workspace, and Electronic Calendars are a Few of My Least Favorite Things: Learning and the Way We Work

    Supporting learning is about much more than facilitation and what happens at learning-focused events or meetings. We have to expand our thinking about what it takes to support effective learning in philanthropy. This article on Medium explores some unexpected sources, such as time management, physical and virtual space, and technology.

    By Julia Coffman

    FaceTime, Open Workspace, and Electronic Calendars are a Few of My Least Favorite Things: Learning and the Way We Work