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Knowledge and Networks

Connecting people to resources and ideas to help cultivate innovation in Greater Philadelphia.

Beyond our grants and impact investments, Barra connects people to resources and ideas to help cultivate innovation in Greater Philadelphia.

Our Knowledge and Networks activities are geared toward our grantee and regional partners; we do not accept outside requests to participate at this time. A few examples of Barra’s past Knowledge and Networks efforts include:

Impact Ed’s Nonprofit Leaders’ Circle

The Nonprofit Leaders’ Circle (NLC) was launched in 2021 to meet the unique and complex needs of Barra’s grantee leaders in response to the interconnected issues of racial justice and COVID-19. During that year, the program brought together diverse leaders from a range of nonprofits to engage in continuous learning, resource sharing, peer-to-peer problem-solving and community building. At the end of 2021, ImpactED surveyed NLC members to learn which priority areas were top of mind for them. Results from the survey revealed that the impact of gun/community violence had become the major area of concern for their work, their organizations and the people they serve. In response to this feedback, during 2022, ImpactED launched a research and learning phase to gain insights into how leaders, organizations and communities are experiencing gun and community violence, what support is needed, and potential avenues for advancing change.

ImpactED continues to engage Barra Foundation grantee executive directors and organization leaders to foster community and engage in problem-solving conversations around their most timely and relevant issues. Over the next 3 years, ImpactED will convene the NLC and advisory committee to host groups and peer sessions and to disseminate learnings. ImpactED will also collaborate on future work to support the exchange of ideas and seed innovation.


From integrated investments in local communities across the U.S. to global ESG alignment, leaders and practitioners at ImpactPHL‘s Total Impact Summit are deepening proven practices and paving new paths to design the economies of our future. The Summit is a two-day, dynamic summit for individual and institutional investors, fund managers, and financial advisors to connect with aligned peers, learn about local and global innovations, discover investable solutions, deploy capital, and generate social impact. Barra has funded efforts to create content and opportunities to engage local foundations to discuss place-based investing at the Total Impact Summit.

Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange

The Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) is an initiative of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia to develop leaders of business, civic and government organizations into visionaries dedicated to making Greater Philadelphia a world class region. GPLEX exposes leaders to new insights and ideas, forges new connections across sectors and industries, and deepens participants’ understanding of Greater Philadelphia’s potential. Each year, a select number of Barra grantees are chosen to participate through a competitive process. Barra provides funding for these chosen grantees to cover registration fees and hotel and travel expenses.

Racial sensitivity workshops

Throughout 2020-21, Dr. Kenneth Hardy, a clinical and organizational consultant, led a series of Breathing Room racial awareness workshops for the entire Barra network to promote sustainable conversations about race. These virtual workshops provided both didactic and experiential opportunities for participants as part of Barra’s technical assistance offerings in light of continuing challenges with structural racism and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philadelphia MAI Cohort

The Philadelphia-Mission Aligned Investing (MAI) cohort is Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia’s 12-month learning and action cohort-based program of board members and executive-level leaders from Philadelphia-area foundations who seek to learn about and experiment with shifting endowment dollars into mission-alignment, including catalytic capital investments directly into the community, investments into local intermediaries and aligning an institution’s portfolio to socially responsible investing. The program aims to increase a foundation’s ability to overcome barriers to mission-aligned investing, such as culture, strategy, capacity and opportunity flow. This program leverages peer exchange, collaborative leadership, coaching and systems thinking—all grounded in a racial equity lens.

Peer Skill Share

Barra grantees were invited to submit skills they were willing to share with others or to request assistance from another organization through a Peer Skill Share. Organizations were matched and submitted reports about their experience. Each organization also received a micro-grant of $100 to offset costs associated with meeting and to incentivize participation.