ESS Development Team

Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers was developed by several organizations that believed the field would benefit from a standardized curriculum that would provide a common introduction to grantmaking.

The ESS curriculum was developed by a volunteer leadership team that included representatives from the Council on Foundations (Council), the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (Forum), the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), and Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania (GWP). Development of the ESS curriculum was supported by Council on Foundations grants from The Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ford Foundation.


In 2005–2006, the Council, the Forum, GWP, and CMF formed a project partnership and convened colleagues from foundations and philanthropic infrastructure organizations to design a fieldwide new grantmaker curriculum. The Council on Foundations contracted VeraWorks, Inc., to design the curriculum model using an instructional strategy based on the principles of adult learning. The curriculum’s real world case examples and frameworks used in each workshop are drawn from field experience. Four regional associations piloted the curriculum in 2006; the participant and faculty suggestions and revisions were incorporated into each workshop. The Forum and regional associations of grantmakers are key partners in the development and delivery of ESS.

ESS Workgroup

Curriculum Development Team

Judith Donaldson
former Executive Director
Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania

Jennifer Hollahan
former Director of Executive Education
Council on Foundations

Mary O'Neill
Director of Programs
Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers

Vicki Rosenberg
Vice President, Communications, Education and External Relations
Council of Michigan Foundations

Bea Boccalandro
VeraWorks, Inc.

Advisory Group

Deborah Bennett
Program Officer
Polk Brothers Foundation

Robin Berkson
Vice President, Member Relations
Donor Forum of Chicago

Imani Constance Burnett
Vice President
Southeastern Council of Foundations

CJ Callen
former Director, Effective Philanthropy
Northern California Grantmakers

Jonathan Goldberg
Grants Administrator and Manager of Information Systems
Surdna Foundation

Mae Hong
Program Director
Field Foundation of Illinois

Jan Jaffe
Senior Director
The Ford Foundation

David Landers
Deputy Director
Philanthropy Northwest

Jane Roxbury
former Director of Member Services
Forum of Regional Association Grantmakers

Marjorie Rutimann
Director of Professional Services
New York Regional Association of Grantmakers