I spent much of this last quarter in deep contemplation, both with other people and in my own writing and reading. Questions I grappled with included:
- What does it take to create a process towards equity that in and of itself is equitable?
- How do I determine, as the Founder and Executive Director of #NYCEDU, where we must invest our limited time and resources over the next three months to make the largest possible impact?
- What do I need to do in my personal life to live in alignment with my Personal Mission Statement, especially as I start noticing that I’ve been neglecting important aspects of my life like personal health and positive relationships?
I am happy to say that I’ve made great progress on the question of equity in process. For this, I thank the people at CoCreative, EdClusters, the Collective Impact Forum, and Leadership for Education Equity. Each and every one of these organizations have staff members that have gone above and beyond to support me as a leader, whether it was through individual coaching, financial support to attend trainings, or pointing me to amazing resources that are the distillation of decades of experience. For those of you who are not familiar with these organizations, but who want to check out some of their top resources, take a look at the following:
- CoCreative’s tools for collaborative innovation. My favorite tool is their Collaborative Innovation Roadmap, which does an amazing job of laying out a process for building the relationships, skills, and network structure necessary to solve tough, complex systems problems in collaboration with a large number of stakeholders. I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief after I went through their training on this framework because I have never been more clear in actionable next steps to take.
- EdClusters’ Equity Focused Program/Event Planning Guide. This is the checklist I always dreamed of having for guiding the planning of an equitable event, from what to think about when ordering food to the intentionality necessary in building a diverse organizing team. It’s a work-in-progress guide made by members of EdClusters and facilitated by the EdClusters team. It’s also a clear example of what is made possible when a dedicated group of people come together to co-create a solution.
- The Collective Impact Forum’s Collective Impact Convening. I went to this convening last year and walked away with boatloads of information and contacts that are still guiding my work today. It’s being held again from April 3rd to 5th in Austin, TX. For a sneak peek at what the convening is all about, search #ciconvening on Twitter.
- Leadership for Education Equity’s Venture Fund and Fellowship. I’ve participated in the selection of ventures for other funds, and have gone through the application process myself for others. LEE’s process is, hands-down, the most useful, supportive one I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. They hosted a virtual venture summit to allow all applicants the opportunity to learn from existing venture leaders and knowledgeable LEE staff, were available for individual coaching, and manage an online community where applicants are able to support one another. They treated the application process itself, not as a way to exclude people, but as a professional development opportunity for all aspiring venture leaders. For those of you who are eligible to be LEE members (TFA corps members and alumni) and interested in starting civic change organizations, I highly recommend getting in touch with them as they have also launched a virtual course for venture leadership.
The question of how to determine where to invest #NYCEDU’s limited time and resources to make the largest possible impact is an ongoing one. Last quarter I wrote that I was saying “No” to working aggressively on #NYCEDU offerings in order to say “Yes” to communicating #NYCEDU’s vision, mission, values, and theory of change and “Yes” to doing what’s necessary to get #NYCEDU funded. As a result of this focus, amazing progress has been made on the following fronts:
- #NYCEDU is now an incorporated not-for-profit in the State of New York City!
- We’re in final round interviews for the LEE Venture Fund and Fellowship!
- We have a vision statement! 50+ interviews, 30+ feedback givers, and 1 intense workshop later, #NYCEDU’s vision is now:
We’re New Yorkers working together to guarantee that ALL of New York City’s young people are equipped with the learning skills, resources, and community support they need to flourish as happy, engaged, impactful citizens of the world.
Special thanks to the entire #NYCEDU core team who made the above possible.
I also think I did a good job of prototyping elements of #NYCEDU’s model when I did say “Yes” to working on #NYCEDU’s offerings. The #NYCEDU School Integration and Desegregation Events Calendar (sponsored by ASID), for example, received 100 views in the first 3 days after launch. It has also sparked conversations with two additional partners who express interest in being financial sponsors for calendars in their respective sectors. And, the 4.0 Schools Education Happy Hour (Co-Hosted by Basta and #NYCEDU), validated the idea that #NYCEDU could earn revenue by offering community engagement services to mission-aligned organizations.
Moving forward, my focus will be on:
- Building a strategy team to help determine the priorities,
- Running a full pilot of the entire #NYCEDU model with the work in NYC school integration and desegregation, and
- Continuing to build #NYCEDU’s organizational capacity, which will include funding and now, staff.
We’re getting there!
Finally, on a personal note, I feel that I haven’t taken care of my personal health and relationships as diligently as I need to be. Therefore, I commit to the following for this next quarter:
- I will go climbing twice a week
- I will be proactive in spending time with friends that I haven’t seen in a long time (yay, the return of brunches and game nights!)
- I will try at least one new healthy recipe a month
And, in celebration of these commitments to personal health and positive relationships, I end with a photo of some of the people I love most in life.
To the people in this photograph, and many others, I say:
Thank you. I would not be who I am today without your unconditional love and support.