"Making Connections" was the Annie E. Casey Foundation's signature place-based, community-change initiative of the 2000s. It sought to build on previous work and launch an effort focused firmly on the framework of family strengthening. The Foundation started "Making Connections" in 22 places, focusing eventually on first 10, then seven sites, eventually investing in the initiative for more than 10 years and spending more than $500 million.
This effort led to a range of innovations in the field and both started and strengthened many local initiatives. Making Connections' positive outcomes are still influencing Casey and the broader field. In many notable cases, the programs and partnerships created during the initiative continue to thrive.
Assessments of "Making Connections" have already produced a variety of lessons on program development, implementation, evaluation and other topics, with valuable implications for practitioners, public policymakers, funders and others involved in community development. This report takes a step back and outlines key findings from the initiative that can provide guidance to those involved with community-change efforts in the future.
These principles can serve as guideposts at an exciting time in the community-change field. Many smart and promising initiatives are underway, fueled by foundations, nonprofits and others in the private sector. The federal government is also making important investments at the neighborhood and community levels. And learning communities of local leaders and state and local officials are actively sharing information and hard-won insights. The principles and strategies in this report can help inform and sustain these efforts and those to come in a field with so much to contribute to the strengthening and success of families living in disinvested communities.