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Systems Change in a Polarized Country

This article originally appeared on Stanford Social Innovation Review

A growing number of US foundations are adopting practices based on systems change to achieve their goals in the current political environment.

More than one year ago, well before the November US Presidential election, I set out to interview the CEOs of nearly two dozen leading US foundations to understand how their thinking about philanthropic strategy had changed compared to five or ten years ago.1 What I heard, again and again, was an emphasis on “systems change” as their approach to large scale social impact.2 Only recently, however, did I realize just how relevant systems change thinking is to the extraordinary challenges of pursuing social progress under the Trump presidency.3

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