Our nation's leading foundations and nonprofits are committed to achieving compelling and
far-reaching goals like those above. Many of them, however, have come to believe that their bold aspirations cannot be realized without a critical mass of organizations and individuals aligned and working effectively as a field. For the goals mentioned above, the strength of the after-school, charter school and early education fields, respectively, may mean the difference between success and failure. That's why field building is a critical strategy for social change; it's also why funders and nonprofits committed to large-scale impact know that they need to be intentional about strengthening the fields in which they operate. Yet these agents of social change often struggle to understand how to focus their field-building investments and activities because they lack a comprehensive and coherent map of the strengths and weaknesses of their field. To help address this challenge, The James Irvine Foundation asked The Bridgespan Group to develop an approach to assessing the strengths and needs of a field. The result is a framework for building more robust fields, The Strong Field Framework, presented in this report. (We have used the framework to assess the field of multiple pathways in California in order to inform our Youth program strategy. The framework's application to the multiple pathways field is included as a case study on page 12.) The Strong Field Framework can help other foundations and nonprofits to assess the strengths and needs of the fields they seek to build, and to prioritize their efforts and investments. It has helped us become more strategic in our field-building work; we have also found that the very act of assessing a field, if done in collaboration with the field's leaders, can help to coalesce the organizations and agencies working towards a common goal in powerful ways.