In the period from 1998 to 2008, the Northwest Area Foundation made a big bet on an innovative approach to reducing poverty. Before that time, the Foundation awarded relatively short-term grants in a variety of program areas. In 1998, the mission was sharpened to a single purpose: to help communities reduce poverty. At the heart of the new strategy was a set of placebased, long-term commitments that were conceived as partnerships with entire communities. These fundamental changes were motivated by a desire to target our resources for greater impact and by a belief that, in an era of shrinking government, communities had to do for themselves what public systems had failed to do for them.