March 2016 LRT Notes

Participants: Lina Buffington, Judi Burle, Yvonne Cerrato, Craig Cheslog, Aeesha Clottey, Hilary Dito, Wendy Donner (by phone), Eric Engdahl, Derek Fenner,  Janice Jackson, Jean Johnston,  Chip McNeal,  L. Karen Monroe, Louise Music, Rachel Osajima, Liz Ozol, Mia Tsui, Ann Wettrich


1. William Stafford’s The Way It Is – Janet Jackson, Leadership Roundtable member, opened the gathering with this poem.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

2. Leadership Roundtable Overview & Aim – Louise Music. The Alliance is building on intentions set in its 2012-22 Strategic Plan–embedding a Collective Impact approach to our work, that began with convening community conversation and is continuing to pick up steam with NEA support. This funding enables the Alliance to work with the newly formed Leadership Roundtable and Collective Impact leader, Paul Born over the next year to:

  • Create a Community Plan with necessary implementation components in place
  1. Strategic Partners – signed on and committed to working together
  2. Adequate Funding
  3. Reliable Backbone and Governance Structure
  • Develop Working Groups that will formulate…
  1. Common Agenda - develop and implement community engagement strategies
  2. Shared Measurement System - develop and implement a data strategy that will enable us to learn together and evolve more effective actions over time
  3. Action Task Forces: develop short term groups to work on key strategic issues for immediate action and quick impact

COLLECTIVE IMPACT OVERVIEW – Paul Born [Director of the Tamarack Institute and has used Collective Impact approaches to effectively reduce poverty in Toronto by a quarter of a million people. He is also the author of the book: Creating Vibrant Communities: How individuals and organizations from diverse sectors of society are coming together to reduce poverty in Canada.]

 Paul is eager to work with the Alliance to use Collective Impact to deepen the work and offer new practices to effect the change we want to see: systemic integration of the arts in public education. He applauds the Alliance’s belief statement:

We believe public education can be transformed through the arts for every child, in every school, every day when we work together.

Why Collective Impact? Because we want to do more—a bolder vision; greater results.  Collaboration is useful but not of any use in and of itself. Collective Impact is a shift away from traditional collaboration to strategies that can effect changes that haven’t been realized yet. We like to believe that working harder or longer (creating one more report or investing more money) will lead to success. In actuality, we need a new strategy for working together in an effective way. Collective Impact offers this strategy.

To begin, Leadership Roundtable members will employ the Collective Impact approach to talk with targeted beneficiaries, as well as broad players and stakeholder. We will deeply listen and learn to understand where transformative learning is taking place and where it isn’t. As a strategy, this process is designed to engage the community and gather information at the same time.

Q&A follow up with responses from Paul Born (PB):

How is Collective Impact different from coalition building?

PB: We’re exploring ideas with as diverse a coalition as possible—including people who disagree—progressive and conservative. This is how Collective Impact strategies differ from community organizing.

Time Commitment Issue – how can we convince others to get involved?

PB: There are strategies for inviting people in via compelling approaches. When community engagement is done well, it works. Our greatest asset is creative engagement to counter the challenge of time pressures. We will start small with committed key players and generate momentum.

Louise expressed an insight from her experience. We all have an inherent need to community and connection. Listening to each other’s goals, needs and perspectives helped to break down silos within ACOE. Collective Impact approaches help us be in different relationship with each other and increased our effectiveness.

LEADERSHIP ROUNDTABLE CO-CONVENERS: Visions of Working Towards Collective Impact

 1.  Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. Karen’s vision, as a relatively new Superintendent, is to put in place ideas and ways of working that will enable ACOE to become a learning organization—one that takes risks. Core values include: flexibility, accountability, collaboration and empowerment. Her “reach” vision for ACOE includes high education goals and equipping students to thrive and erase the predictability of failure for students of poverty. Noting the need to speak about Alliance goals in multiple languages and to get out of the “this is the only way” mindset, she looks forward to working across organizations to develop a common vision and a collaborative compact.

2. Craig Cheslog, Co-Director & Vice President of California Policy, Common Sense Kids Action.  Craig was introduced to Collective Impact through his work as Principal Advisor to the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. As part of a National Endowment for the Arts supported initiative, he went with a team of six CA representatives from education and the arts to participate in a Chicago based forum focused on cultivating the political will necessary to advance arts education at the state level. Realizing the scope of this work and the need for strategic collaboration, the team developed a Collective Impact structure–Create CA. Craig and Malissa Shriver, then President of the California Arts Council, initially led this effort. Over five years, Create CA brought in partners, convened conversations with the field, and struggled to overcome challenges. These efforts led to success. Create CA is currently a financially sustainable, credible, state-wide entity that sponsors regular convenings across California, offers tool kits for including arts education in Local Control Accountability Programs (LCAP) and is conducting a data project. Craig, having recently relocated to the Bay Area and taken on a new role, is eager to be part of the Alliance’s work in shaping a localized Collective Impact approach with the potential to serve as a model for other regions.

3. Louise Music – Director of Integrated Learning, Alameda County Office of Education; and Director of the Alliance.  Louise is eager to work with the Leadership Roundtable to build on the progress that has been made through connections of local, regional and state-wide efforts. She expressed her will to engage Collective Impact to restore the basic human right to educational access and creative participation in the arts.

GROUP DISCUSSION – Abbreviated summary of reflections, desires and questions

  • Exciting opportunity; embracing the unknown
  • Desire for learning, clarity and gaining a deeper understanding
    • Alliance goals, intentions, descriptive terminology;
    • Leadership roundtable expectations and responsibilities;
    • Messaging approaches for different stakeholders;
    • Collective Impact and its strategies for community and cross-sector engagement;
  • Identified needs and interests:
    • Develop and make visible successful models;
    • Systemic approach: connecting the dots between successful youth, education, communities and world;
    • Including socially engaged art practices that prepare youth for citizenship, not just career and college; and speak truth to power;
  • Questions for further discussion with Paul:
    • Strategies for inclusion of different views and perspectives
Carolyn Carr