Amplify Blog

Insights and ideas directly from New Profit

October 27, 2016

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On October 19th, 2016, 34 members of our Practitioner Community and 14 New Profit Deal Partners and staff convened in Boston, MA for the annual practitioner’s working group “The Beat Goes On: Social Innovation through Collaboration.”

This session built directly on the theme from our July Plenary convening “The Rhythm of Change” -- where we discussed the dynamic parts each of us plays in bringing our shared vision to life. Our practitioners gathered to discuss shared challenges and opportunities they face in in their work and to support one another in identifying new approaches and solutions. This session was a chance for them to learn from one another’s work and refine their approach to ensure that they’re better able to serve diverse learners and all students.

We are pleased to share a summary of the conversations we had on October 19th.

Session Synopsis

The Story of Us
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Each of us come to this work with our own stories and we work together toward shared goals. We began our time together by learning more about each of our own stories. Each of us had a chance to share a unique story from our own work or personal lives that have shaped us in some way – some shared stories of their first job in education, others about how their parents met and how that shaped them, others still shared how significant changes in their understanding of their work in the education sector coincided with important moments in their own children’s learning journeys. Together we mapped “The Story of Us”, a timeline of significant events in each of our lives and the lives of our organizations.

Organizational Capacity Building Sessions
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In order to drive catalytic change in education and ensure that “all means all”, we know each of our organizations must be working towards an ambitious vision for change, with a sound strategy and strong organizational capacity. We also know that many organizations face similar challenges when bringing their vision to life and rarely have the opportunity to share their learnings on how they have navigated these challenges. Organizations were paired in small working groups with New Profit Deal Partners to engage in ‘consultancy sessions’ on topics that they identified as key areas of concern or opportunity. Sample topics included how to learn from piloting to enhance direct impact models, how to strengthen widespread impact strategies when organizations have a strong existing direct impact model, identifying key choices in growth planning, integrating a deeper understanding of equity into organizational structures, innovating in large scale organizations, and how to use a strong research base to shift implementation practices in the field.

Partnership Strategy
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Nonprofit organizations often find themselves in situations where they are considering whether or not to partner with another organization. Organizations are also engaged in many partnerships; we know of 25 across Reimagine Learning alone. These partnerships can vary in type, from delivery partners to outsourcing partners to deep shared alliances. While organizations may have many partners, few non-profit organizations across the field have identified strategies to assess why or when they should partner. With support from the global consulting firm Vantage Partners, organizations had the chance to learn about partnership strategy and to assess their own approaches to partnership. Each organization had the chance to assess potential partners with regard to potential for impact, strategic fit, relationship fit, and operational effectiveness.

Action Planning
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In the closing session, attendees had the chance to reflect on their learning from the day and action plan around how to integrate those learnings into their practice. Organizations documented their action plans for capacity building goals and for partnership goals. For each organization, Deal Partners and the Reimagine Learning team will be checking in and integrating these goals into our support with organizations.


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Closing Reflections

Reimagine Learning is deeply honored to work with this set of ambitious and inspiring social entrepreneurs. Each member of the Practitioner’s Community demonstrated the power of our learning community by sharing openly, pushing one another’s thinking, and of course making space to laugh and connect with one another. When sharing our closing reflections, we shared the following:

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