In 2008, Brandee McHale, the chief operating officer of Citi Foundation, was having second thoughts. McHale, who is responsible for developing the overall strategy, grantmaking, and operations of the foundation—which supports financial programs for low-income families—had begun to question the effectiveness of some of the organization’s approaches. She and others at the Citi Foundation, and in the nonprofit sector generally, were coming to the conclusion that classroom-based educational...

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