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28
Nov
2018

Gratitude Isn’t a Platitude

Fair warning: We’re gonna get personal in this post. That’s because we’re feeling extra reflective this holiday season. We both had milestone birthdays this year (50 for Lowell, 75 for Mario), and we’ve both experienced personal loss. In the past month alone, Mario lost…

17
Oct
2018

The Red Pill

Last month, we wrestled with the implications of the new book ‘Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World’, which has earned more buzz in our sector than we’ve seen in a long time. This month, we’re turning our focus to ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’, a book that…

26
Sep
2018

A Gut Punch

During the Jewish High Holidays, Lowell’s rabbi implored his congregation to spend less time with eyes fixed on our algorithmically narrowed news feeds and more time looking for new perspectives. In response, Lowell picked up Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, a book that was likely to challenge key assumptions that he and Mario hold about social change.

23
Aug
2018

How Funders Can Leap from Good to Great

Last week, Lowell made a presentation to new board members of a family foundation interested in raising its game. It was a great opportunity to synthesize several years’ worth of learning about how positive-outlier foundations find good organizations and help them become great.

25
Jul
2018

Collaborative Patriotism

On July 4th, Lowell and his family participated in one of their favorite annual rituals: attending a naturalization ceremony at the foot of the Space Needle and welcoming America’s newest citizens. The ceremony featured more than 500 new Americans and roughly three times as many cheering onlookers, many of them wearing red, white, and blue …

20
Jun
2018

Flashlights Not Hammers

As readers of this update know, we’re big believers in the power of data for learning and improvement. But we also recognize people can—and often do—use data in ways that create harm. The latest example comes from this New York Times podcast, which aired on June 5. It’s the sobering story of how then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley‘s good intentions for data use led to severe unintended consequences, especially…

23
May
2018

A Passionate, Personal Drive for Performance

When reading the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s May 1 feature story on the Leap Ambassadors Community, we got a kick out of a quotation by our friend Brad Dudding, the brilliant COO of the Center for Employment Opportunities. Perhaps channeling Mario, Dudding pulled off a rare triple mixed metaphor when explaining one of the community’s key aims: “Right now there’s a big push … to hammer away at funders and get them on the bus.”

25
Apr
2018

28 Fixes

Three years ago, when the Leap Ambassadors Community released the first version of the Performance Imperative (PI), the ambassadors made it clear that they would practice what they preach about learning and improvement by collecting feedback and eventually producing a version 2.0. The ambassadors have followed through on that commitment. At the beginning of this month, they released…

21
Mar
2018

Epic Example of Why Performance Matters

The day after Christmas in 2013, a young boy named Emile in the small West African nation of Guinea came down with a high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. He died two days later. Within a few weeks, Emile’s sister and mother had died as well. By the end of March 2014, scientists at France’s Institut Pasteur determined that the cause was the Zaire species of Ebola, the most lethal virus in the Ebola family. Emile’s illness sparked the largest Ebola outbreak in history, provoking panic all over the world. “Ebola is ‘devouring everything in its path,'” reads a typical headline in The Washington Post. On the frontlines of the fight against Ebola was the nonprofit Last Mile Health. In 2007, co-founders Dr. Raj Panjabi and Dr. Amisha Raja took…

22
Feb
2018

Performance for the Poorest

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco-based Mulago Foundation, which supports mostly early-stage organizations on the frontlines of poverty alleviation. We suspect the foundation will let the milestone pass with little or no fanfare. While we admire the foundation’s desire to avoid patting itself on the back, we believe it deserves widespread …

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