Gates Foundation Shares New Approach to International Giving

As part of a new approach to international grantmaking, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is taking steps to more closely align its global health and development programs, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

As a result of the reorganization, some health grants have been moved under the umbrella of the global development program, which is headed by Christopher Elias. While Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes said he believes this type of "integration" will ensure greater collaboration among employees and projects, the foundation's most important stakeholders were not easily won over by the plan. "Bill and Melinda really viewed these as elements of global health," Raikes told the Chronicle. But Raikes was able to convince them that the changes could be a catalyst for boosting the foundation's effectiveness.

Raikes said the genesis of the reorganization occurred two years ago when he was in Ethiopia and realized that, in addition to providing primary and preventive care, heath workers there also were working with villagers to boost food production, increase access to clean water, and improve sanitation.

Raikes told the Chronicle that foundation staff focused on advocacy and public policy initiatives will now report to a single leader, as will program officers in Africa, China, and India. He also said the foundation, the world's biggest, has been listening to those who disagree with its education strategy for U.S. schools. While Raikes is unclear how those perspectives might change the foundation's approach, if at all, he said the foundation will continue to work on clearing up misperceptions about its work.

"Some of the anti-reform movement has the perception that what we believe in is a complete focus on standardized-test-based accountability, and that couldn't be further from the truth," said Raikes. "We need to dial up our message on that."

Caroline Preston. "Gates Reorganizes Global Staff and Listens to School Critics." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/16/2012.