Questions / For Funders

How can funders make the case to their Board to support RPPs?

Funders are encouraged to use multiple strategies when making an internal case to support research-practice partnerships. Some useful strategies include:

  • Assess the landscape of existing work on research-practice partnerships and identify where the foundation can make a valuable contribution to this space (the “value added”). Some funders have opted to support the operations or specific projects of a local RPP and argued that local investments will improve the learning, health, housing, or service opportunities for youth in the funder’s backyard. Others have supported national competitions and have argued for the growth of model partnerships for others to learn from and emulate. Still others have convinced their boards to invest in both local and broader efforts.
  • Articulate how RPPs are uniquely positioned to build on and advance the foundation’s agenda and interests in research, policy, and/or practice. Unlike the use of consultants, research-practice partnerships enable longer-term planning, relationships that benefit both practice organizations and research enterprises, and shore up the organizational infrastructure and capacity of local and state organizations.
  • Fund test-cases of RPPs and leverage their experiences to justify broadening support for RPP work. For example, the Spencer Foundation began its support for RPPs with support for one place-based RPP and gradually expanded the breadth of its support before ultimately establishing a formal grant program.
  • Share success stories of RPPs, how they benefit youth, and offer an analysis of how funder’s investments were critical to achieving those milestones. Strong examples exist of how research-practice partnerships have contributed to sizable and lasting outcomes. Papers by Palinkas and colleagues (2015) and Coburn and colleagues (2013) offer useful starting points.
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For Funders