CF Insights asks a very simple but important question: "What if each community foundation could know what all community foundations collectively know?" This collection features research produced and funded by community foundations, and other resources relevant to the field. Contact us at and visit us at

Search this collection

Clear all

35 results found

reorder grid_view

Creative Stretch: Findings from Oregon Community Foundation's Creative Heights Initiative

December 1, 2018

What happens when cultural organizations and artists/creatives receive early investment to stretch their practices and work in new ways when developing new work? This report documents the lessons learned from the first four years (2014-2017) of projects supported by Oregon Community Foundation's (OCF) Creative Heights Initiative. We hope that insights gained from these projects will build the capacity and confidence of other artists, creatives, and non-profits looking to stretch their creative practice, and encourage support for promising new work.

What Are the Paradigm Shifts Necessary for the Arts Sector to Nurture THRIVING Institutions of Color?

January 1, 2018

The purpose of this study was to assess the state of agencies created by, for, and about ALAANA culture and communities in New York City. These organizations had to have established operating budgets of $200,000 or more. This budgetary threshold was established as a marker of organizations that were more likely to have existing data available in external databases, be eligible for funding consideration by institutional grantmakers, and have the capacity to fill out the survey or participate in the in-person conversations.

Striving for High-Quality Arts Education

October 1, 2017

This report summarizes the existing literature that explores quality in arts education. Following a general overview of the literature, the first part of the report is organized using the eight Studio to School principles for the pursuit of high-quality, equitable, sustainable arts education programming. Just as the principles are interrelated, there is alsooverlap in the literature on quality in arts education. Existing literature also provides more detail about particular aspects of arts education — such as those who provide arts education (e.g., teaching artists) and their contribution to quality. Therefore, the summaries for each principle are of varying length, breadth and depth. The second part of the report is an annotated bibliography that describes the context and relevant findings for each report included in thisliterature review.

Arts Infusion Initiative, 2010-15: Evaluation Report

March 6, 2016

For youth involved in the criminal justice system, a better future depends on improving their social and emotional learning skills -- skills like conflict resolution, career readiness and preparation for the future. An assessment by the Urban Institute shows how the Arts Infusion Initiative helped achieve just that for young people detained in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC), and for high-risk youth in the Lawndale, Little Village, Back of the Yards and South Shore communities. From 2010 to 2015, this catalytic approach to restoring the peace for Chicago's youth supported 14 nonprofits providing teens with rigorous arts instruction, infused with social and emotional learning goals. Funded by The Chicago Community Trust, the $2.5 million Initiative built collaborations with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Public Schools, and Northwestern and Loyola Universities. The Urban Institute's mixed-method evaluation (2.9MB), commissioned by the National Guild for Community Arts Education with funding from the Trust, concluded that "the fields of education, juvenile justice and family and youth services can benefit tremendously from the emergent approaches embodied in the Arts Infusion Initiative." Among the successes their research revealed:Participants showed substantial improvements in social and emotional learning skills, as measured by conflict resolution, future orientation, critical response and career readiness. Improvements ranged from 27% in conflict resolution and career readiness, to 29% for critical response and 36% for future orientation.The initiative helped foster collaboration between program directors, public schools, community policing and the detention center. Examples include the Trust and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program working together to open a high-tech digital music lab at JTDC. Chicago Public Schools' plan for a new Digital Arts Career Academy for at-risk and court-involved high school youth is a direct result of the positive effects Arts Infusion had on youth, and of the relationship forged between CPS and the Trust.The program exposed at-risk youth to new skills and technologies that opened their minds to a positive future. Arts Infusion grants enabled many participating programs to purchase -- often for the first time -- modern, professional-grade equipment to which many youth had never been exposed. Better Boys Foundation used its funding to purchase enough modern film lab equipment to serve a full 17-student class -- previous classes had only one camera to share among all students.

Leveraging the Power of Cultural Investments: A Report on Cultural Capacity Building

February 26, 2016

Since 1996, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) has invested $54 million in nonprofit organizations, focusing on a remarkable, yet under-resourced collection of cultural institutions to help spur the economic revitalization of a critically-distressed community. As UMEZ considers its investment strategies for the next decade, it is imperative to understand the impact of its nonprofit investments on the cultural organizations, the region, and in the context of New York City's cultural ecology.To that end, UMEZ engaged the Regional Plan Association to evaluate the effectiveness of UMEZ's investment strategy in the nonprofit cultural sector. Using the timeframe from 2000-2003 to 2009-2012, this report reveals substantial gains for the 32 grantee organizations profiled in the study, as well as their continuing challenges; it illustrates the concurrent growth of Upper Manhattan's cultural and economic landscape; and it compares Upper Manhattan's collective cultural assets to similar clusters in New York City's other boroughs.

Oregon Arts Education Snapshot

January 1, 2016

The Oregon Arts Education Snapshot provides an overview of arts education programming delivered by nonprofit organizations in Oregon that responded to a survey in summer 2015. The survey responses explored in this report illustrate that no two organizations providing arts education are the same, yet many share common characteristics.Since the late 1990s, many Oregon schools have drastically reduced or eliminated arts education programs due to budget cuts. In response to this decline, nonprofit organizations have expanded their role in delivering arts education opportunities for students during both the school day and out-of-school time. The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) and Oregon Arts Commission (OAC) developed the Oregon Arts Education Snapshot in order to better understand the ever-changing landscape of community-provided arts education throughout the state.

Trusting What We Don't Know: Lessons from an Experiment in Art, Environment and Philanthropy in California's East Bay

August 4, 2015

This essay aims to capture the technologies of engagement and participation that have distinguished the Open Circle approach to art funding by highlighting some of the artists and projects funded over the last fifteen years. The philanthropic practices enacted by Open Circle could be instructive to other funding entities seeking to balance the pressures between wanting to make a lasting impact with a finite pool of resources. Specifically, this case study provides useful insights into the possibilities of crafting giving initiatives that consider the competing agendas of:spreading funds widelyoffering multi-year funding for singularly successful programsproviding both seed funds for incipient ideas as well as more substantive funding for mature art endeavors

Creative New York 2015

June 1, 2015

Coming ten years after the publication of our 2005 Creative New York study, this report takes a fresh look at the role of the arts and the broader creative sector in New York's economy, provides a detailed analysis of what has changed in the city's creative landscape over the past decade and documents the most pressing challenges facing the city's artists, nonprofit arts organizations and for-profit creative firms. The study was informed by interviews with more than 150 artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, architects and other creative professionals, as well as advocates, nonprofit administrators, donors and government officials. These firsthand accounts were supplemented with an analysis of Census, labor, tax and grant data in addition to a variety of surveys and research reports.

Indiana Nonprofit Employment: Historical Trends in Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, 1995-2009

November 1, 2012

Nonprofit organizations make significant contributions to the quality of life for the residents of Indiana. In particular, arts, entertainment, and recreation organizations play an important role in preserving culture, enriching the lives of children and adults, fostering creative expression, and providing sport and entertainment. These organizations may also serve as a powerful economic force for the state by attracting not only tourists, but also a young, educated workforce that can have a major positive impact on regional output and productivity. This report from the Indiana Nonprofits: Scope and Community Dimensions project presents new data on the size, composition, and distribution of paid arts, entertainment, and recreation employment in Indiana's private nonprofit sector over the 1995-2009 time period. All dollars are adjusted for inflation and are reported in constant 2009 dollars. Note that there are too few government employees in the arts, entertainment and recreation industry to allow for separate analysis of public sector employment.

2011 Otis Report on the Creative Economy Report of the Los Angeles Region

November 9, 2011

Examines the combined economic impact of the arts, design, and entertainment industries in Los Angeles and Orange counties, including trends in employment, salaries, revenues, and nonprofit arts groups. Offers projections for 2015 and industry snapshots.

Survey of Music Education Providers: Report and Recommendations

September 1, 2011

In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) commissioned an initiative to help identify how arts organizations can better and more effectively serve Chicago Public Schools (CPS) through arts education programming and explore the ways in which arts providers are using the CPS Arts Guide. Four cultural organizations from different disciplines were selected to spearhead the initiative, consulting with and gaining input from arts education providers across Chicago. The Ravinia Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and the League of Chicago Theaters were selected to represent their respective disciplines (music, visual arts, dance, and theatre/literary arts).Each convening institution was charged with researching the music education offerings of their respective sectors by conducting focus groups with colleagues, and surveying the arts partners within their discipline. Ravinia convened all music sector organizations known to the institution several times during the process to get their input at each phase of this project:In the summer of 2010, four meetings were held to introduce the sector to the project and obtain their feedback on the commission and design of a survey. It was important to Ravinia that the survey creation be as inclusive of all members of the music sector as possible. Subsequently, these meetings, which preceded the survey development,provided the background for most of the questions which ended up in the survey. In the fall of 2010, the same music organizations were invited to a meeting to review a draft of the survey and provide Ravinia with feedback. In this meeting, the music sector proved to be once again very engaged in the design process and confirmed to Ravinia that they desired a survey that would be thorough and comprehensive even if it required some time to answer.In the summer of 2011, Ravinia again met with a large number of representatives from the music sector to discuss the findings of the survey, dive deeper into some of the more surprising findings, and create recommendations.In all, a total of 8 meetings were held, with more than 90 people representing 53 organizations that were a part of the process

Chicago Arts Partner Study: Theatre and Literary Arts

August 25, 2011

In summer 2010, the Chicago Community Trust commissioned four nonprofit arts organizations, including the League of Chicago Theatres, to work with arts educators and develop practical and actionable recommendations that will enable arts partners to serve more Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students -- and serve them better -- through arts education. Over the past year, the theatre and literary arts education communities have contributed countless hours and numerous invaluable insights, many of which are reflected in this report. This study asked a few straightforward questions: What is the capacity of Chicago's theatre and literary arts partners? What will enable arts partners to increase that capacity, and what is getting in their way? How can supports -- new or existing -- be created, adapted, expanded, or simply better distributed to give arts partners new tools and techniques? Through an extensive survey, interviews, and numerous group convenings, this study came at those questions from a variety of angles. And strikingly, the copious amounts of data generated and the extensive conversations all pointed to a few basic ideas.Fundamentally, the ability of theatre and literary arts partners to develop new programs depends on the relationships they have built. And their ability to sustain successful programs, too, depends on the relationships they have built. What is the biggest constraint to their capacity? Those same relationships. This becomes particularly true in an environment in which resources are constrained -- the single most effective step that individual theatre and literary arts partners can take is to concentrate on the relationships they are building with principals and teachers and with their contacts in the district office. When working with high schools, where challenges and distractions are even greater, these steps become ever more critical. Theatre and literary arts partners already know that principals and teachers are critical to their success. We recommend that:Arts partners work closely with principals and teachers to understand schools' priorities and goals prior to pitching potential program offerings. Many groups have found that customizing or semi-customizing their programs after such a conversation leads to a better and longer-lasting fit with the school. Arts partners may want to reach out to other school stakeholders such as resource coordinators, curriculum coordinators, parents, and local school councils, among others, to conduct a needs assessment. Theatre and literary arts partners should also take advantage of the wealth of information that existing "matchmaker" organizations know about schools. Similarly, when they find a "true believer" -- a principal, teacher, parent, student that can enthusiastically engage others about the impact of the organization's arts programs and/or the field -- that person should be enlisted immediately as an advocate to his or her peers. Lastly, the theatre and literary arts education community should work together to share their successes and strategies on an ongoing basis.Funders assist by providing information about local needs and introductions to key leaders in communities. Funders should also support training for arts partners in developing and sustaining effective partnerships.CPS help arts partners make connections with principals and should facilitate opportunities for supportive principals and teachers ("true believers") to share their arts education experience with their peers.These critical relationships and partnerships can help theatre and literary arts partners weather a complicated set of challenges within schools. Some arts partners have described CPS as a place of tremendous uncertainty, where a sense of being in "survival mode" prevails. In this environment, where principals and teachers are under pressure to improve test scores and academic outcomes, translating the value of arts programming can be difficult: effective tools do not yet exist; arts partners do not have access to the data that could help them make their case; assessment and evaluation can be difficult and frustrating for all concerned. To ensure that theatre and literary arts partners can build successful, sustainable programs for CPS students, we recommend that:Arts partners evaluate and measure programs based on the priorities and goals they jointly establish with school leadership, so they can then demonstrate progress according to the schools? needs. Arts partners should share program evaluations with all stakeholders, including teachers and students, and could engage these stakeholders in focus groups to deepen their understanding of program impact. The theatre and literary arts partners also expressed a strong interest in working together, across organizations, to share and learn from each others approaches to assessment.Arts partners, funders, and CPS generate greater awareness of the assessment tools and supports that currently exist for arts partners because a large number of providers do not know about current resources in Chicago. Arts partners, funders, CPS should also collaborate to demonstrate arts program effectiveness in terms that matter to school leaders, such as the linkages between these programs and academic outcomes.Funders provide resources for deeper, quantitative studies of program effectiveness, especially in academic terms. Funders should also enter into a dialogue with arts partners to establish effective approaches to assessment that will meet both the funders' needs and the schools' needs, without being burdensome for arts partners.CPS enhance the Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts to include the supports that theatre and literary arts partners say would most enable them to expand capacity: best practices in developing and continuing relationships with principals and teachers; guidance on translating the impact of theatre and literary arts programs to Common Core standards and academic outcomes; and comprehensive approaches to assessment. CPS should also complete the sections still in development, such as the literary arts chapter, and ensure greater awareness of the Guide among classroom teachers and arts partners. Active users of the Guide could be enlisted to train non-users.Meanwhile, the field as a whole -- arts partners, funders, CPS, and stakeholders -- needs to continue working together to transform policy and support for arts education. Everyoneshould engage new CPS district leadership and push to establish changes in policy that will lay the groundwork for stronger arts education in schools, including graduation requirements, structural support for arts education, and training requirements for principals and teachers. It has never been easy to work with large districts like Chicago Public Schools, which itself faces many challenges in trying to help its students succeed personally and academically. And it is to the credit of arts partners that they choose to bring their dedication, passion, and ingenuity to a task that is simply so challenging. The data that follow paint a vivid picture of these challenges. The recommendations will absolutely require hard work by many parties -- but the heartening news is that they are attainable. Part of the solution is in helping people better relate to each other in creative ways.