Investing in the Holistic Development of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Children

Tauck Family Foundation Case Study

In 2013, the Tauck Family Foundation (TFF) selected and began funding a social investment portfolio of nonprofit organizations and schools focused on developing the organizational capacity to implement and measure social and emotional learning (SEL) in service of improving life outcomes for Bridgeport, Connecticut’s children. At its core, the strategy is designed to increase the likelihood that Bridgeport’s children and youth will “thrive academically and in life” through promoting social and emotional competence, well-being, and school success. When asked if TFF’s social investments–and its investee partners’ resulting efforts–improved outcomes for Bridgeport’s children, the response from investees and community stakeholders was almost unanimous: “absolutely.”  This case study is a story of partnership between a family Foundation and a community of youth-serving organizations, bound together by mutual respect and common purpose. Trusting relationships, strong leadership, and, ultimately, aligned values, are the ongoing drivers of this story of learning, progress, and collective resilience in service of children.

The Foundation board and staff operate using the values they espouse and encourage in their investees. This authenticity has helped to generate trust and catalyze progress. Investees and community stakeholders uniformly experience the Foundation and its staff as assets to the Bridgeport community by virtue of their humility, transparency, relationship-centered approach to partnership, and commitment to walking the talk when it comes to continuous improvement. Living up to its goal of being a dynamic learning organization, TFF made modifications to the strategy throughout the investment period, including expanding its target population, adopting a systemic, ecological lens that factors in issues of equity and inclusion, and adjusting measured outcomes based on investee feedback and community needs.

View the Executive Summary (PDF)

Indeed, tangible progress abounds across TFF’s portfolio: investee partners increasingly provide high-quality, outcome-driving activities, as articulated in the Foundation’s Theory of Change. Current investees report year over year progress against their often ambitious organizational development goals and those successes are substantiated by TFF’s rigorous qualitative data gathering. Each investee experienced challenges requiring mid-course adjustments, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but all partners have demonstrably progressed in their capacity to enhance the social and emotional skills of the Bridgeport children and youth they serve. Depending on the investee, progress falls along a continuum of significant strides, to profound organizational transformation. Investee Journey descriptions, which highlight just some of the progress made by TFF’s investees during their partnership with the Foundation, are included in this case study along with detailed examinations of student and organizational outcomes for eight-year investees.

As the current investment period nears its conclusion, this case study serves to document the Foundation’s journey over the last nine years as it adopted an engagement-heavy strategy that dove headfirst into the challenge of managing to outcomes in a complex environment beleaguered by intergenerational poverty among other challenges. This study also acknowledges and celebrates TFF’s remarkable investee partners and their unconditional commitment to the well-being, self-determination, and life success of Bridgeport’s children.

About this Case Study

Commissioned in 2021 by Tauck Family Foundation (TFF), this case study describes the experiences and outcomes associated with TFF’s social investing strategy in Bridgeport, Connecticut since 2013. In this study, board members and staff, current and former investee representatives, partners, and Bridgeport education stakeholders shared their reflections on the journey so far and the impact of the Foundation’s ongoing pursuit of better life outcomes for the city’s children. The case study shares themes and quotes from 22 stakeholder interviews, provides an overview of goals, processes, and tools, and presents analysis of eight years of quantitative child outcome and organizational outcome data for the three investees TFF has partnered continuously with since 2013. Pamela McVeagh-Lally, SEL Consulting Collaborative, is the lead author of the study, and Joanna Meyer MAT and Michael Strambler PhD, The Consultation Center at Yale School of Medicine, partnered on the study’s development, conducted the analysis of the outcome data, and authored the corresponding quantitative analysis content in the Investee Outcome Data section. TFF staff edited the length and format of the report.

Acknowledgements

The authors of this report extend their sincere gratitude to the TFF staff and board, investees, and Bridgeport community stakeholders who participated in interviews, read drafts of this study, supplied data, and provided resources and connections. Your contributions made this report possible, and we are thankful for your partnership. Special thanks to long time TFF partners, Harvard Graduate School of Education’s EASEL Lab for providing data for this report and to Panorama and Algorhythm, for allowing us to include items from their surveys and measures. Thanks, also, to Robert Sherman PhD for the thoughtful feedback.