What Guides Our Work
With our roots in the scientific method, the practice of innovation is a process that—for Barra—requires certain elements. It involves creating opportunities for idea generation, selecting ideas that have the potential to influence others, supporting risk-taking and sharing learning.
Here are the principles that mold our approach to innovation:
- Fostering an environment in our region that supports and advances innovative ideas and approaches.
- Knowing that risk, failure, learning and sharing are essential elements of the innovation process.
- Offering financial support and other incentives to encourage individuals and organizations to challenge assumptions, take risks and develop new models.
- Encouraging experimentation and imagination as keys to innovation.
- Recognizing innovation can arise from unlikely partnerships.
- Listening, engaging and responding to the sector in which we operate.
The Way We Support Innovation
We offer core support to exemplary organizations that are leading, adapting and performing; and risk capital to help organizations test and launch novel ideas and strategies.
But beyond the dollars we invest, we seek to connect people to resources and ideas in a way that will help further innovation in our region. We place a strong emphasis on learning, sharing and connecting.
To that end, on our website we share the stories of our grantees in an effort to inform and inspire others to think—and act—differently. And our Explore section provides access to resources and ideas that will help people who want to learn more about the practice of innovation, beyond the specific projects that Barra supports.
We have four full-time program staff members and one-part time administrator. Beyond financial support, we do our best to deploy our resources—networks, relationship, knowledge and experience—to build connections and share information that cultivates innovation.
The Bottom Line
We provide approximately $4 million in annual grants that are focused on supporting innovation in and across the fields Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services. Of that total, $1 million per year supports the Barra Awards and $3 million is available from the Catalyst Fund.