S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation National Character Initiative Retrospective
The National Character Initiative sought to bolster youth development organizations in supporting character development in youth and to advance the practices of adults who work with young people. Beginning in 2014, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation did so by investing in the organizational capacity of youth-serving organizations, with a focus on improving program quality and organizational infrastructure. The Foundation provided funding to these organizations (totaling $126 million) and offered supports to grantees to help them achieve their goals and advance internal change. The supports included (1) technical assistance from Foundation program staff, (2) convenings and communities of practice, and (3) technical assistance from expert partners.
About the Retrospective
Starting in 2019, AIR partnered with the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, to capture grantees’ experiences with the National Character Initiative. Specifically, through interviews and surveys, AIR aimed to describe grantees’ experiences implementing the grants and participating in the supports that were provided by the Foundation and expert consultants. Findings from the retrospective may be useful to other foundations as they decide how to fund and support youth-serving organizations.