Our Approach
“To accompany someone is to go somewhere with him or her, to break bread together, to be present on a journey with a beginning and an end… Accompaniment is much more often about sticking with a task until it's deemed completed by the person or people being accompanied, rather than by the accompagnateur.” - Paul Farmer
For Wagner Foundation, an accompaniment approach begins with a commitment to our partners. Respecting the unique circumstances, goals, and insights of every relationship calls for support which is responsive rather than prescriptive. Our focus may change over time to help where it is needed most — from multi-year general operating support to launching focused initiatives. Being present when needed contributes to trust and mutual accountability, building solidarity through communication and understanding.
Wagner Foundation’s understanding of accompaniment was shaped through its work with Partners In Health (PIH). PIH transformed global health by advocating for health equity as the only answer to persistent medical crises worldwide. Although building high-quality healthcare systems in the places that needed them the most was sometimes criticized as unsustainable, PIH remained undeterred.
As a partner to PIH, Wagner Foundation recognized the need for strategic, long-term support to match their commitment. The complex challenges associated with realizing healthcare systems called for iterative efforts backed by research, communication and community buy-in. As a foundation, we came to understand our role was to accompany PIH and the communities they served throughout this entire process.
To be reliably present for partners and communities over time supports stronger relationships, that makes work more communicative, less prescriptive, and farsighted.
Today, we continue to learn how to be an effective accompagnateur from our partners. Even as we look to them for guidance, we recognize that no one can be expected to have all the answers. Ensuring that the right voices are at the table, equipped with the information they need, and engaged in the process is essential.Because accompaniment is built through relationships, communication should not be taken for granted.
For this reason, Wagner Foundation’s support often includes investments in communication, to strengthen and broaden exchanges with and between our partners. Hearing each other, witnessing concerns, learning about important work, is affirming and instructive. When equipped with better understanding we see new possibilities, act more effectively, recognize and overcome power imbalances together.
Be Receptive, Not Prescriptive
Look to partners for guidance in identifying where to focus efforts.
Be There As Needed
Be committed and available to partners as they need you — no more, no less.
Work on Communication
Make investments in overcoming knowledge gaps, addressing power imbalances, and being a witness.
See the Context
You are part of the historical context. Learn about it and recognize that others may know more than you.