What's New?

  • A Story of Making Connections across the Divides of Race, Class and Culture

  • How one man’s journey from a Louisville housing project to the governor’s office demonstrates the power of networks.

  • Reflections on how Making Connections began its work in local communities, using “STLs.”

  • Finding new ways to get Beyond Welfare

  • Reflections on building resident power and capacity for change

  • Helping residents train for good jobs in San Antonio

  • Using culture to build community in Oakland

  • How residents got a seat at the table in Indianapolis

  • Getting people to work together on the needs of women and girls in Des Moines

  • The influence Making Connections had in Hartford

  • The long and winding road to the 'new normal' in White Center

  • The Diarist Project is a new approach to documenting and learning from efforts to strengthen struggling communities and improve the lives of children growing up in these communities. The diarist work has grown out of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Making Connections, initiative, a decade-long effort to transform neighborhoods in 10 cities across the country.

    Through its work on Making Connections, the diarists have developed several guiding principles for their work, such as the need to learn from the people who are on the ground, implementing a program or initiative.

    In Making Connections, the diarists worked most closely with the people who leading the work in each city, especially "Site Team Leaders" (Casey Foundation national staff members) and "Local Site Coordinators" (staff people who manage the work locally).
    Recently the diarists have been using this approach to document and learn from other efforts, such as Grassroots Grantmakers’ work to help funders work effectively with low-income communities – Building Resident Power and Capacity for Change.

    Why the diarist work can be important over time

    Often certain programs or initiatives generate a lot of excitement. They seem to demonstrate a new approach to, say, making schools more successful or child welfare agencies more effective. But often efforts to try a similar approach in another city are not as successful.

    Why is it that seemingly promising models sometimes don't travel well? No doubt one reason is that every community is unique. Another often-cited reason is that a charismatic leader played a key role in the initial success and that person can't be cloned.

    The Diarist Project has a different focus. It is not examining just the model or a particular leader. Instead it is trying to better understand and document the often long and challenging process of implementing any ambitious project or initiative.

    To do this, diarists ask people involved in this process to reflect on what they did and what they’ve learned. What were their strategies? Why? What made their initiative work (or why did it fall short in some areas)? What would they tell others embarking on similar work?

    The hope is that better understanding the process that led to a success will allow that success to be better replicated in another place.

    Why this website?

    This website is intended to make the materials coming from the diarist project easily accessible to others doing similar work. It is also intended as a way to make our evolving thinking about the diarist work available to people who are interested in this approach to documenting an initiative.

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