Using Research and Advocacy to Engage with National Policy

Categories: News

At the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation (SHSF), we invest in solutions that expand equitable access to public services and support accountability for abuse of authority. As a small, family foundation with an annual budget of less than $1 million, we look for high-risk, high-impact opportunities to change the public conversation around a particular issue – or drive policy change. Advocacy, research, tech, and communications sit at the top of our toolbox.

With the arrival of “infrastructure year” in 2021, we saw an opportunity to connect a core higher education issue – transit inaccessibility of community colleges – to the Administration’s priorities and the national conversation. With this in mind, our team sought to answer the question, do you need to own a car to attend community college?

In Spring 2021, we published the SHSF Public Transit Map, an interactive national map to show which community colleges are accessible by public transit. Among other outcomes, our work inspired the new bipartisan PATH to College Act. SHSF’s experience with this project offers four key lessons for small family foundations seeking to engage on national policy issues through research and advocacy.

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