The Roadmap Guiding Our Early Learning Work


A child participates in an early learning program

The Roadmap Guiding Our Early Learning Work

How many of us have asked ourselves, “How do I get where I want to go?” No matter the context, answering the question takes thoughtful research and planning. As a strategic grantmaker, William Penn Foundation’s work is guided by constant attention to this question.

Our Strong Start, Strong Readers strategy is focused on increasing the percentage of Philadelphia children who are ready for kindergarten and read proficiently by the end of third grade. Yet until now, we had not shared our strategy in what’s known as a “Theory of Change” or “Logic Model.”

A Theory of Change is a roadmap that depicts the path toward a goal. Initially, we planned to create a Theory of Change only as an internal product – a roadmap for our Board and staff to better visualize the theory that undergirds our work. It does not represent any change in our strategy, but rather a better way to conceptualize our efforts.

Once the Theory of Change was created, and we saw its utility, we began to see how this representation of our strategy could potentially help other organizations involved in early learning, e.g. funders, government agencies, non-profit organizations, etc. For example, a health funder might see an opportunity to partner with us to support a more holistic approach to ensuring that children are ready for kindergarten. Or, the theory of change graphics may help an organization seeking funding for early learning efforts to understand how its work could fit in with our larger efforts.

We’ve also created individual graphics dedicated to our Engaged Families, Literacy-Rich Environments and Quality Early Childhood Education Centers portfolios that support our overall goal.

We invite you to check out these documents and tell us what you think: Are they clear? Are there missing connections? How might they inform your work? Please reach out to your Program Officer or email We view this as an iterative process and are continuously seeking to test the logic and clarity of our strategies.

We hope you find these graphics supportive of your work. Should you have, or develop, a graphic theory of change for your organization, we would love to see and learn from that!

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