A Peek Behind the Philanthropic Curtain: A Conversation with Hilary Pennington on Ford’s BUILD Initiative

Smart philanthropists don’t just give money restricted for programs; not only do they provide more flexible operating funds, but some provide fairly intensive resources for capacity building, particularly to key grantees. One of these programs is the Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative, a multi-year, $1 billion investment in the long-term capacity and sustainability of 300 of its social justice-oriented grantees worldwide.

In a special Facebook Live session, Ruth McCambridge, NPQ’s Editor in Chief, speaks with Hillary Pennington, Ford’s executive vice president. Together we explore why Ford decided to make this commitment, what components it includes and why, and how it integrates with the foundation’s efforts to reduce inequality.

We discuss how the program selects its participants, what challenges and course changes have surfaced since the start of the initiative, lessons learned, and where the program is headed from here.

 

About Hillary Pennington: 

Hillary Pennington joined the Ford Foundation in 2013 as a program vice president, leading the foundation’s work on arts and culture, documentary film-making, journalism, and youth leadership. She has also led its efforts to build and strengthen the broader field of philanthropy. During this time, she helped launch the foundation’s BUILD initiative. Pennington also led the foundation’s work in Africa and the Middle East. As a child, witnessing the inequality of apartheid in her father’s home country of South Africa helped shape her lifelong passion for social justice.