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Foundation-Led Systems Change: Discussion of the SAY Project

March 3 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am CST


Join the Philanthropy Club on March 3 for a discussion about the Success for All (SAY) Project and the partnership that brought it to life, featuringformer SAY Director Linda Francis and Laura Nussbaum-Barbarena, Associate Director of the Office of Student Research at Roosevelt University.

SAY is a systems change effort led by the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation to ensure every child in Oak Park and River Forest is empowered to reach their full potential. OPRF Community Foundation works with school districts, faith-based organizations, social service agencies, and other civic institutions and their leadership to address critical needs of community area youth.

We will hear from Linda and Laura about why the work was pursued in the first place, what the community engagement process has looked like, and lessons they have learned from this expansive, long-term partnership.

This discussion gives an opportunity for nonprofit and philanthropic leaders to discuss the broader themes of collective impact, partnership and engagement within the grassroots context, and how foundations view this work and endeavor to partner with nonprofit partners to carry out their mission and vision.

Moderated by Deidra Somerville, PhD, MSW.


Linda Francis is the former Director of Success of All Youth (SAY) an initiative out of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation and a cradle-to-career community collective. There, she worked with a range of community partners and individuals to coordinate and align priorities, efforts, and resources to empower all children/youth to reach their full potential. Linda is a graduate of Northwestern University and spent the first 23 years of her career as an engineer in the telecommunications industry. She was introduced to the social impact sector as an Instructor and later Program Coordinator for Project SYNCERE, an organization that brings engineers into the classroom and introduces students to careers in engineering through project-based learning. Linda has recently taken the position of Backbone Director of the Partnership for Pre-K Improvement (PPI) at the Ounce of Prevention, where she will continue bringing together university, policy, and practice partners to improve outcomes for kids.  She has been a member of numerous school and community boards and committees and has been involved with supporting youth and education all of her adult life.

Laura Nussbaum-Barbarena is Associate Director of the Office of Student Research and directs research activities at the Policy Research Collaborative at Roosevelt University. Laura’s research and teaching focus on exploring and developing equitable forms of producing and sharing knowledge at every stage of the research process. She has collaborated with immigrant rights organizations in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Chicago, centering the disparities community members articulate in access to social services, programs, and protections. These activities informed efforts to reform immigration, social welfare, and disaster recovery programs and policies, targeting inequity at the intersection of gender, racial, ethnic, and class positions. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.A. in Sociology-Environmental Studies and Latin American Studies from Whitman College.

Preregistration is required by Monday, March 2.  


March 3
9:00 am - 10:30 am
Event Category:




Forefront Large Conference Room
208 S. LaSalle Street, #1535
Chicago, IL 60604 United States
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