A look at what’s ahead for our Global Development and Population program

In the heart of Kantamanto Market in Accra, Ghana, head porter Hawa Latif carries goods on her head. A year and a half ago, Hawa Latif left her hometown of Tulu, in Ghana's Northern Region, to come to Accra to earn a living working as a head porter, or kayayei. Photo credit: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage

At Hewlett, we’re guided by a commitment to daily good habits with our grantees and outcome-focused philanthropy that typically has a five-year cycle. It just so happens that the 2019-2020 period coincides with the five-year mark for two of the five strategies that guide our grantmaking in the Global Development and Population program: Women’s Economic Empowerment and International Reproductive Health. So as we kick off our year, we’re starting our regular, structured reviews in these two areas.

As has been true before, this won’t mean a departure from either reproductive health or women’s economic empowerment grantmaking. On the contrary, it’s a moment for us to ask what has worked well, what we’ve learned, and how we can adapt to a world that looks different today than it did in 2014 and 2015. I’m eager for the opportunity to strengthen our grants to ensure women have full opportunities to earn a living and can control whether and when to have children. And because the reviews are happening in tandem, I also see it as opportunity for us to support connections that might emerge between the two. They may be separate grant strategies for us, but they are certainly not separate issues for women around the world.  In addition, we will also take this opportunity to ask ourselves and our partners how all of our work in Global Development and Population can further women’s reproductive and economic choices, and how our work to accelerate greater choices for women can further our work in transparency, participation, and accountability and evidence-informed policymaking.

Hewlett President Larry Kramer describes these processes as a critical part of ensuring we use the foundation’s resources effectively and for the betterment of society. In the introduction to Hewlett’s Guide to Outcome-Focused Philanthropy, he says this is “a responsibility we take seriously, and one that calls upon us constantly to reexamine not just what we are doing but how we are doing it.” The guide outlines the process by which we design, implement, and review our grantmaking. It requires our program officers (not me!) to lead the work, alongside the organizations we are privileged to support, as well as other partners and individuals working on these issues. This includes other funders, researchers, policymakers, those most affected by the work, and skeptics, too. Our aim is to use these moments to listen and learn as much as possible and to turn those insights into practical action, without unduly burdening our staff or our external colleagues along the way.

Here’s what my colleagues, who are leading the efforts, are hoping for in the year ahead:


Alfonsina Peñaloza, Program Officer, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Having been involved in the design of this strategy, I look forward to understanding how the field has evolved. Our grantees have done amazing work and I am keen to learn what some of their successes have been. As with any strategic evaluation, I also hope to learn how we can improve our strategy, so that we can contribute to women’s agency over their own lives, bodies and work. Strategic evaluations are only as good as they are useful, so I hope that this refresh is inclusive; I expect the process to include meaningful participation of our partners and, most importantly, hope that its results can be of use to them and their own work.


Althea Anderson, Program Officer, International Reproductive Health and Women’s Economic Empowerment

Working across these two strategies, I am excited about the opportunity to enhance how we support women’s productive and reproductive lives holistically, as well as the social and economic environment to advance women’s rights. Over the next year, we are deeply committed to engaging our grantee partners and in-country experts in the strategy refreshes authentically to ensure that the processes are collaborative, inclusive, and beneficial to sustaining their work. Building on our existing partnerships, I am eager to learn about promising opportunities to leverage our investments across the Global Development and Population Program to strengthen African institutions.


Janet Holt, Program Officer, International Reproductive Health

I am looking forward to a transparent process that will be grounded in grantee and beneficiary voices. In partnership with internal and external stakeholders, I am excited to systematically take stock of the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, to learn from our grantmaking under the current strategy and to collectively evolve the Hewlett Foundation’s role in improving the health and wellbeing of women and girls.


Nathalie Scholl, Program Associate, Global Development and Population

I look forward to learning more about the international reproductive health portfolio and the many challenges that its grantees are contending with. I am excited to learn about potential synergies across portfolios and how combining forces could shape this refresh process.


Norma Altshuler, Program Officer, Evidence-Informed Policymaking and Women’s Economic Empowerment

In the past five years, our grantee partners have made tremendous progress, including while facing stiff headwinds. I look forward to learning how we can work together to have even greater impact going forward.


Lori Grange, Strategy Officer, Effective Philanthropy Group

Outcome-Focused Philanthropy, at its core, is about learning and adaptation. The foundation’s staff try to learn and adapt throughout their work. These comprehensive reviews provide an opportunity to take a bigger step back—looking back and looking forward thoughtfully, conscientiously, respectfully, and in true partnership with our grantees and other stakeholders. As the foundation’s strategy officer, I’m excited to work with the Global Development and Population team on this journey—and privileged to be part of their and ​​their partners’ efforts to further women’s reproductive and economic choices.  


Amy Arbreton, Evaluation Officer, Effective Philanthropy Group

As the foundation’s Evaluation Principles and Practices Guide describes “When it comes to strategy-level evaluation, typically, no single evaluation can tell us if a strategy has been successful or is on track. Such a comprehensive assessment—commonly used to inform a strategy refresh—requires synthesis of multiple evaluations of smaller, cluster-level evaluations; summary and analysis of relevant implementation markers; and active reflection on, and interpretation of, the results in context.”  I’m looking forward to a refresh process and “look back” that engages with internal and external stakeholders to reflect and build on lessons learned from numerous substrategy evaluations commissioned to date, along with new information from the “look back” we will engage with as part of the refresh process.


May Aguiar, Program Associate, Global Development and Population

I hope this process can express and strengthen Hewlett’s desire to serve and listen to our grantees, and as a result, that it open opportunities for candid and balanced interactions with our partners.



Jasmine Sudarkasa, Fellow, Effective Philanthropy

As a woman raised on the African continent, I look forward to connecting my lived experience with our strategic learning agenda. As a fellow, I am excited to support teams in the application of values to practice throughout the refresh process, and to learn from an intersectional “look-back” on our strategy thus far, particularly as we approach Beijing 2020 and beyond.


I am still only a few months into my time as Program Director at Hewlett, and new to California, so I’m still working to create my own daily and long-term habits (more steps tracked on my FitBit, less processed sugar, more patience with my pre-teen kids). Yet I’m so grateful to be at an institution that takes its stewardship of foundation resources seriously; has a rigorous, tried and true process;  and doesn’t follow short term fads or look for quick fixes, but is instead committed to addressing difficult problems over the long term.  We’ll share our process and progress with you along the way, and hope you’ll share your ideas, your worries, your advice, and insights with your program officers and associates or send them to GDP@hewlett.org.

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