June 12, 2019 by Juan J. Martinez
The best financial advisors see opportunities where others see risk, especially when it's supported by data. They must let go of some of the anxiety that accompanies doing something others aren’t, because that’s where great investments can reside.
October 20, 2011 by Juan J. Martinez
Dr. Frank Douglas, President and CEO of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron
Juan Martinez, Vice President/CFO at Knight Foundation:
A little over three years ago, Akron leaders visited Knight Foundation, proposing a new, collaborative approach to jumpstart Northeast Ohio’s knowledge-based economy.
We helped bring a cross-section of the community’s leadership together for strategic planning. From there emerged the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, a collaboration of five major clinical and academic institutions focused on making the region a leader in the use of polymer technology for patient-centered health care solutions.
Today, the institute is a great example of community leaders creating and implementing a shared vision.
March 26, 2013 by Juan J. Martinez
Archive: GEM Webinar (39 min., Webex.com archived event)
At Knight Foundation, we value working with grantees who are willing to take big risks and experiment in smart, well thought out ways. Equally as valuable to us are the tools that help effectively manage and evaluate the impact of those risks on the implementation of grants. That’s why in 2006, when the foundation had distributed nearly $1 billion and was supporting increasingly complex, multi-year grants, Knight began to develop a tool for real-time expenditure monitoring called the Grant Expenditure Monitoring Guide (GEM).
Now, we are eager to share the GEM tool in an April 5 webinar, where funders can learn how to improve fiscal oversight and strengthen relationships with grantees.
The foundation started the GEM program in collaboration with specialists at accounting firm KPMG. In the last five years, KPMG has reviewed more than 230 grants valued at over $482 million. As a result, we've helped recover $8.2 million, funds grantees were able to use toward their original objectives.
How GEM Program has evolved
At the start of the program, the GEM review was done on any new grant over $1 million. Those reviews were mainly “one-size-fits-all” solutions where a team from KPMG visited the grantee’s offices to review their books and records.
In 2011, Knight conducted independent assessments on the impact and operations of the GEM program. Based on the feedback we received from grantees and staff as well as the evaluators, Knight now uses a risk-based approach. The program starts with program staff completing an assessment of business risks during the development of a grant. This review follows a standard form that assigns a risk score to a number of factors.
We see the risk scoring sheet as a tool to assist program staff in standardizing how they analyze the implementation risk of a grant. Since it is shared on Knight’s internal grant management system, it also allows other staff with similar grants to learn from another program director’s analysis. The results of completing the sheet are two-fold: we get a quantified risk score and a thoughtful and documented analysis of implementation risk.
We’ve designed the form to be relatively short (less than 20 questions) and simple to complete (taking about 15 minutes) in order to reduce the administrative burden on staff.
Based on the risk score and program staff’s judgment, one of three types of GEMs can be scheduled: