The following adaptive strategy will support the Ann Bancroft Foundation (ABF) in our pursuit of impact with a focus on organizational structure and stability, relationship building, and continued grantmaking.

ABF has 26 years of data from post-activity surveys, events, and reporting that show our key change pathways of grantmaking, mentorship and ongoing development opportunities provide life-changing experiences for girls. As part of this planning process, we spoke with Trailblazers, mentors, donors, parents, activity providers, and peer and partner organizations.

An overwhelming majority told us that our direct grantmaking is impactful and unique. Moreover, the majority of Trailblazers felt their funded activity changed their lives for the better and they’ve developed ongoing, positive relationships with their mentor.

“ABF grantmaking is quite beautiful in its simplicity. It’s always more than funding an experience; it is everything that goes along with giving a kid a vote of confidence and the experience to be part of something larger.”

– Donor

At the same time, we heard from Trailblazers that girls continue to face challenges rooted in gender inequity that have financial, mental, and safety implications. The costs of activities are increasing, girls are seeking to connect with role models that reflect their communities and interests, and girls need the confidence and support to imagine something bigger and believe in their own power.

Investing in girls is more critical than ever, and as we look to the next 26 years, we are excited to deepen our commitment to supporting life-changing experiences for all who identify as girls, while also strengthening ongoing development opportunities that reinforce the resilience built by girls when they grow their confidence and continue to dream big. Throughout, we will amplify and celebrate the stories of impact and inspiration that demonstrate the transformational impact of our efforts and the dreams of girls.

An adaptive strategy is not a static, strategic plan; instead, it provides a look at the pathways that lie before an organization and provides a set of navigational tools, while acknowledging that the options – and even the destination – may shift as we learn and engage along the way.

This plan was informed by the vision and leadership of the executive director, as well as the Ann Bancroft Foundation community – Trailblazers, staff, board and committee members, parents, mentors, donors, activity providers, and peer and partner organizations – while maintaining the cultures and values of ABF as developed by our founder, polar explorer Ann Bancroft.

While this adaptive plan sets forward a vision paired with strategic recommendations, ABF will continue to hold time for reflection, learning and adaptation, using programmatic and organizational milestones as opportunities to reflect and revise.

“The grant is the vote of confidence, and the ongoing relationships are what give girls and their dreams the opportunity to continue.”

– Trailblazer



Our vision – envisioning a world in which all who identify as a girl have a chance to live their dream and reach their full potential – makes it clear that we’re an inclusive community that is focused on impact. 


Our mission has proved solid with our grants, mentorship and ongoing development opportunities remaining central to our approach to supporting girls to live their dreams and imagine something bigger. 

IN SHORT, Our commitment to investing in girls and increasing access to transformational experiences remains unchanged.


The Ann Bancroft Foundation believes investing in girls by increasing access to transformative experiences builds COMPETENCE, CONFIDENCE, CONNECTION, CHARACTER AND CARING, and disrupts the impacts of gender inequities by:
  • Helping girls build skills to navigate the challenges they face today, and

  • Laying the foundation for future successes that strengthen our communities. 

We know that there are actions that are in our sphere of control – our grants, mentorship and ongoing development opportunities.

Our actions influence the lives of girls and encourage and support them to dream big and develop competence, confidence, connection, character and caring. That is work they do themselves, aided by the transformative experiences we fund.

Those 5 C’s help girls disrupt the impacts of gender inequality they experience today and throughout their lives, strengthening our communities and creating transformational impact.


  • The 5 C’s = Lerner, R. M. (2009). “The positive youth development perspective: theoretical and empirical bases of a strengths-based approach to adolescent development,” in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, eds S. J. Lopez and C. R. Snyder (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 149–163.

  • Thank you to Neeraj Mehta, Director of Learning at the McKnight Foundation, for sharing the learning and evaluation framework they are building and testing in their own work, that inspired our use of the three spheres we are sharing here.


The Ann Bancroft Foundation operates with a passion for making a difference in the lives of those who identify as girls. We believe a sense of belonging developed through equity, diversity and inclusion are essential to fulfilling our mission and vision.

  • We work as an organization to create an environment where all feel respected, valued, and able to dream.

  • We are conscious of the practices and norms that perpetuate inequity, and we commit to involve and reflect the communities we serve.

  • We partner with values-aligned individuals and organizations to cultivate an environment that supports girls in the achievement of their dreams.


The Ann Bancroft Foundation is supported by a community made up of alumnae who have received grants (“Trailblazers”), mentors who guide the process, partners and volunteers who enhance the impact, and supporters who fund our approach.

  • Our community is diverse, inclusive, connected, accessible, transparent, and supportive.

  • We encourage members of our community to be bold, courageous, and innovative.

  • We take pride in the growing network of people who eagerly claim membership in our community.


  • Grantmaking, mentorship, and ongoing development opportunities.

  • Amplifying and celebrating stories of impact and inspiration.

  • Leading with a culture of listening, learning, and adapting.


Strengthen Ann Bancroft Foundation key approaches: grantmaking, mentorship, and ongoing development opportunities.

  • Expand and increase grantmaking and mentorship.

  • Develop robust ongoing development opportunities that connect and support the Ann Bancroft Foundation community.

Build a powerful narrative practice to amplify and celebrate stories of impact and inspiration.

  • Develop robust, strategic communications to (re)introduce the Ann Bancroft Foundation vision, mission, and impact.

  • Situate Ann Bancroft Foundation as a lead advocate and resource for girls and values-aligned organizations.

  • Amplify stories of impact and inspiration to inspire the Ann Bancroft Foundation community – Trailblazers, staff, board and committee members, parents, mentors, donors, activity providers, and peer and partner organizations.

Grow financial and organizational stability.

  • Build organizational capacity to advance change pathways and increase investment in the organization.

  • Develop and sustain partnerships with values-aligned individuals and organizations.

  • Strengthen Ann Bancroft Foundation philanthropic culture to advance highest strategic priorities, including increasing support for grant recipients and building an endowment.