Einhorn Team -

Nov 11, 2020

You Asked, We Answered

Einhorn Collaborative's Top 20 Questions

Since launching our new strategy and brand in September, many of you have shared great enthusiasm and interest in our road ahead. Interspersed with the cheers and virtual high-fives, we’ve also gotten a lot of questions about exactly how we got to where we are, what we have planned, and how we intend to get there. We’ve accepted this as an invitation to share more about what we’ve learned in this process and our commitment to working together towards what’s next.

Last month, we hosted a virtual “open house” with nearly 300 attendees to go deeper on our new strategy and our hopes for the future. We’ve included a link to that recording below, in case you weren’t able to join us.

While we left time at the end for Q&A, and built the presentation from questions we received in advance, we still weren’t able to address all of the wonderful questions you asked, both during the webinar and via email or otherwise since our launch.

So with that, we’ve lifted up what we believe are the most relevant questions and answers—“Einhorn Collaborative’s Top 20 Questions”—in an effort to be responsive and transparent about our work going forward.

To review, our funding strategy is focused on three key priorities, our “Three B’s”:

Bonding: Developing our capacity to form and maintain healthy relationships with a focus on programs designed to establish positive, resilient bonds and emotional connection between babies and parents from birth.

Bridging: Reinforcing our ability to understand ourselves and each other, and positively relate across difference, with a focus on providing adolescents with experiences that enable them to develop lifelong skills of perspective-taking and bridge-building.

Building: Elevating our collective story by helping Americans build a culture of connection and belonging, find common ground, and take action together with practical tools that lift up our common humanity.

Cutting across these three strategies is our commitment to learning, collaboration, continuous improvement, and relationship-based philanthropy.

Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received since our launch about our general approach, as well as those that specifically address our three impact areas and our commitment to collaboration, learning, and impact.


1. As a prospective grantee, how will I know if I'm eligible for funding?

We proactively seek out a wide range of partners for collaboration to advance our strategies, so we do not accept unsolicited funding proposals. We have found that this saves the precious time and resources of grant seekers. Though we have solidified the core of our new funding strategy—Bonding, Bridging, and Building—some of our near-term and longer-term funding objectives are still in development. This means that we are looking for insights that are emerging across our three B’s. At times, we may invite conversations from within and beyond our network to help educate us about emerging trends to shape and inform these strategies. We recognize it is on us to manage expectations and to clarify that a learning conversation does not indicate we are considering funding.

2. What did you learn in the process of your strategy lookback and rebrand that others can learn from?

Lucie Addison, Einhorn’s Learning and Improvement Lead, summarized the four key lessons we learned in the course of our lookback and rebrand for the benefit of others considering embarking on a similar process. Read about this journey in Lucie’s blog "Navigating Our Transition" here.

3. What has shaped your new strategy, what have you learned from your research, and what's giving you hope?

Through their thoughtful guidance and creative actions over the last decade, our grantees taught us that the notion of “helping people get along better” doesn’t do justice to what it takes to do the work on the ground or honor the systemic challenges we face as a nation. People don’t get along unless they feel seen, heard, and valued. And feeling seen, heard, and valued requires a depth of trust and relationship—of truly seeing, knowing, and caring for one another—that enables us to be our whole and best selves, individually and together. Our three B’s—Bonding, Bridging, and Building—are a reflection of what we learned from the research of what it takes to help people move into, what we’re calling the “Relational Era.” You can read more about our commitment to the Relational Era and why that helps us feel hopeful here.

4. How will you address power dynamics and issues of racial equity across your priorities?

Sharing and building power are priorities for how we approach our collaborative work, as described in our Principles of Practice. We gather and sit alongside diverse groups of people to complement individual skillsets, knowledge, and expertise—both lived and academic. We are also guided by our Commitment to Equity & Belonging, which includes a specific commitment to embrace efforts in our own organization, our collaboratives, and in our fields of practice that help us recognize, reveal, and dismantle all forms of “othering” and to intentionally reach out and partner with historically excluded and marginalized groups.


5. Is "bonding" exclusively focused on early childhood?

At this time, yes. Einhorn Collaborative has chosen to focus resources in areas where we believe we can have the highest leverage and impact. We know that earlier is better for developing the skills of emotional connection and developing positive relationships. Therefore, we are focusing our attention and resources on parents and their children during the child's first three years of life.

6. There are a variety of established intervention programs that can promote positive parenting through parent training in pediatric care. Are you aware of these evidence-based practices?

Yes. We are a lead funder for the Pediatrics Supporting Parents (PSP) funder collaborative. PSP funded the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) to study programs in pediatric primary care that support parent-child relationships. CSSP studied more than 70 programs and conducted site visits of 13 programs to identify common practices. Those common practices are summarized in their report, "Fostering Social and Emotional Health through Pediatric Primary Care: Common Threads to Transform Everyday Practice and Systems."

7. How are you thinking about connecting the adults (many of whom are also parents) in the building strategy and the children in the bonding strategy. Is there an opportunity for multi-generational supports and change?

An important learning from the research we funded at the Nurture Science Program at Columbia University is that autonomic emotional connection is a mutual, reciprocal process that benefits both babies and parents. So, while we chose the period of a child's first years to benefit children as early as possible, we believe there is a bonus "win" of supporting adults with these benefits as they become parents.

8. In designing the “how,” have you considered the essential role of child care and caregivers in reaching a child’s broader ecosystem?

This is a critical observation. Health care is a trusted, non-stigmatized, universal touchpoint for families of young children. However, children and families spend much more time in other settings, including child care. Through our work with the Pediatrics Supporting Parents (PSP) funder collaborative, we are supporting 3-5 communities in embedding practices that support parent-child relationships in pediatric primary care and in connection and collaboration with other sectors.


9. How does Einhorn define “adolescents” and how have you selected the cohort you intend to target?

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine defines adolescence as young people between the ages of 10 and 25. Within that age group, we are focusing on those in the “emerging adulthood” phase—17-25 year-olds—who are those most disproportionately affected by COVID-19 related disruptions to schooling and career.

10. What are your priorities related to education?

Our Bridging strategy is focused in the emerging adulthood phase of adolescence, 17-25 year-olds. We are currently exploring the various systems and settings where Gen Z are engaging in efforts that seek to address community needs as a way to further develop bridging skills and orientations. This includes college campuses (higher education) but also outside of formal educational settings, such as through community-based and faith-based organizations, youth organizing, and national service.

11. Are there particular types of programs or partnership that are more or less effective at developing future "bridge builders" among emerging young adults?

We have been compiling a set of emerging best practices and critical ingredients that we think develop future bridgers. We’ve come to recognize that civic experiences are most impactful when young people engage in them alongside peers (“cohort-based model”), have adults and near peers creating space for vulnerability and mutuality (“Developmental Relationships”). We know young people benefit from routinely practicing critical reflection and wrestling with questions related to identity (self), relationships (others), and one’s surroundings, leading participants to expand their “moral imagination,” imagining a better, more just world, and realizing the critical role they play in building it.


12. How did you choose your partners in the "Building" collaborative?

We started small so we could make the Builders experience co-creative and engage the group in sustained, intimate conversation over the course of several months. We also started off mostly with leaders we had relationships with so we could accelerate the community building. We were striving for diversity across kinds of work and expertise; all are people leading organizations and shaping the narrative in different contexts, including political bridge building, social healing, religious pluralism, racial justice, and other areas. We plan to expand the group—and bring it directly into the funder collaborative—with a focus on greater ideological, racial, and gender diversity to integrate a broader range of perspectives.

13. Which strategies, partners, or grantees are offering new models to help rival socio-political factions care for the other?

Though there are too many to name, here are two illustrative examples of powerful, research-backed strategies that we're seeing organizations in the field put to use. One is to help people across a divide see each other as unique, multifaceted individuals (rather than as a set of stereotypes about a group they're part of). Another is to bring people together across a divide to do things together in a spirit of cooperation and common cause. Greater Good Science Center's Bridging Differences Playbook talks about these and other strategies, the research behind them, and what they look like in action.

14. What issues or opportunity areas could help Americans find common ground?

While the election revealed that we are still a very divided country, there is less daylight between Americans on some of today’s big policy issues—and therefore potential for shared action. For example, the Hidden Common Ground project has found cross-partisan support for affordable childcare, job retraining, and a higher minimum wage. Criminal justice is another area where there is growing cross-partisan agreement on various reforms. And More In Common has found that, at the community level generally, people feel much less divided—and a greater sense of belonging and hope—than they do at the national level. This points to the promise of local collaboration and problem solving on a range of issues of shared concern.

15. It sounds like funder collaboration is your main focus in Building. What else are you supporting?

We believe that the broader worldview we’re trying to elevate is more urgent and more possible. 2021 is likely to be a year of even greater hardship, division, and dejection as the pandemic persists and as we enter a polarizing post-election period. We also think the opportunity is ripe; culture change experts have described this is as a “portal moment.” We want to help imagine and usher in the “Relational Era” we’ve begun to give voice to—the importance of bonding and bridging, of connection to self and to others, of embracing our differences and seeing our shared humanity. So we will make opportunistic investments in the narrative space, with a focus on amplifying the science of human connection and real, emotionally vivid stories that bring it to life.


16. What does success look like for the Collaborative over the next year or decade? In the next year, our goal is to have several more partner and funder collaboratives established and working together towards a common agenda. Over the decade, success looks like those collaboratives advancing three overarching goals:

Bonding: parents and babies are emotionally connected more of the time by having the awareness and tools to calm each other and repair disconnection.

Bridging: 17-25 year-olds understand themselves and each other, positively relate across difference, and have lifelong skills of perspective-taking and bridge-building.

Building: Americans are inspired, equipped, and mobilized to strengthen a culture of connection and belonging, find common ground, and take action together.

We recognize these are directional goals, and we are working collaboratively with partners to set common agendas that specify more concretely, "how much, by when."

17. What metrics will Einhorn Collaborative use to evaluate the impact of its grantees?

We are in the process of defining meaningful metrics with our partners, identifying the metrics that are most actionable for partners towards the Bonding, Bridging, and Building outcomes we collectively seek. In this way, our measurement approach is grounded in shared learning and continuous improvement. We ask partners to bring data and insights pertaining to the common questions and associated metrics that we jointly set, in order for that data and insights to enable all of us to do our work better.

18. Why are you prioritizing funder collaboratives over direct grantmaking?

We have conviction that a collaborative approach to social change is just as important as the Bonding, Bridging, and Building social change outcomes we seek. Our conviction is grounded in considerable evidence from the Aspen Institute’s Collective Impact Forum, ORS’ study of collective impact, Bridgespan’s study of field building, the Billions Institute’s method for unleashing social change, the Leap of Reason book on managing to outcomes, Dan Palotta's talk on managing to outcomes, our partners, and our recent experience with collaboratives. We know that collaboration rarely happens on its own, or rarely happens quickly. Dedicated funding and people power are needed.

19. Are you considering how advocacy and policy could help deliver greater impact and sustained gains?

Our partner and funder collaboratives can deploy any and all social change levers available, including advocacy for policy shifts. These groups are in the process of determining their specific theories of change and the mutually reinforcing activities that will be their best course of action, which may include advocacy-related activities. That said, Einhorn Collaborative only supports 501c3 efforts.

20. How do you recommend prospective grantees bridge between programmatic outputs and societal outcomes in proposals and evaluation of performance?

As Stephen Covey says, "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." We are students of numerous social change experts in this regard and recommend their guidance on making the logical links between outputs and outcomes. These include:

  • Alnoor Ebrahim's book, "Measuring Social Change," which sets out four types of strategy and four corresponding types of actionable measurement (sometimes outputs are most actionable, other times outcomes are).

  • Mario Morino's book, "Leap of Reason" about managing to outcomes and breaking the mold to position learning primarily for your organization and secondly for proposals. (We also would recommend Leap’s companion “Performance Practice” to put this work into action.)

  • Center for Evaluation Innovation's article, "5-A-Day: Learning by Force of Habit" with guidance on asking powerful questions.

  • Langley et. al.'s book, "The Improvement Guide" which breaks down the methods of improvement science including detecting when change is by chance vs. due to special causes that you can act on.

One of the major priorities of our new strategy is a commitment to communicate more proactively to support and inform the community we are seeking to create together. Please look out for regular newsletters in your inbox and blog posts on our website, and feel free to Tweet or tag us on Instagram.

We look forward to continuing the conversation and hope these Qs & As help to give more insight into our road ahead.

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