Scaling Up Development Innovations and Social Outcomes


For the last fourteen years, MSI has developed, applied and disseminated methodologies and tools for scaling innovative solutions to social and economic problems. Our work on scaling focuses on three related challenges: 1) assessing scalability; 2) designing pilot projects and prototypes with scale in mind; 3) and managing the scaling up process. It began in 2003 with support from the MacArthur and Packard Foundations, and buildins on a decade of prior research on implementing policy change.

We have refined and adapted our methods through extensive hands-on work scaling innovative solutions in the U.S. and 22 other countries in micro-insurance, early childhood development, bilingual education, dropout prevention, workforce development, agriculture, rural development, small enterprise development, natural resource management, maternal and child health, family planning, HIV/AIDS, local government, and community policing.Read more about our scaling-up work in education.

The below visual shows how with a plan and a vision a project can scale up. Click on the video to watch MSI President Larry Cooley explain our work:


Our Scaling Up Management Framework, Scalability Checklist, and Scaling Up Toolkit supports the development and implementation of detailed scaling up plans in the context of specific projects, programs or technologies. They outline steps, tasks and tools, and facilitate systematic assessment, management and monitoring of the scaling process and are adaptable to a variety of sectors.

The Framework’s three-step, ten-task, process is iterative and designed to meet the needs of individual projects where they are in the scaling continuum, covering critical questions and issues that must be addressed at each stage.

We helped to establish, curates and acts as secretariat for the Global Community of Practice on Scaling Development Outcomes made up of 56 donor agencies, foundations and think tanks. [insert link to CoP website] The Community has active working groups on scaling in agriculture and rural development; scaling in education, scaling in health, monitoring and evaluation issues in scaling, and scaling in fragile states.

We also serve as scaling advisor for the MacArthur Foundation’s ambitious 100&change grant program which will award a grant of $100 million USD to a single organization or consortium with a viable plan to solve a major global problem at scale.


Our scaling framework has been highlighted in more than 100 presentations, workshops and trainings for a wide variety of audiences including:

• International Agencies: World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID, IADB, OECD, World Health Organization, UNICEF, and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
• National Governments: India, Mexico, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Cambodia
• Foundations: Council on Foundations, MacArthur Foundation, Gates Foundation, Elma Foundation, Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Edna McConnell Foundation, and Hewlett Foundation
• Think Tanks and Professional Conferences: Brookings Institution, Development Management Network, American Evaluation Association, National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), and Global Health Council
• Universities: Harvard University, American University, Princeton University, Yale University, Virginia Tech, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai/India), and Dubai School of Government