A new Theory of Change
This past Summer, Growing Together, looking at the data and reviewing the latest research, determined that we needed to address the issue of concentrated poverty head on. Thus we created a new Theory of Change and that theory caused us to resolve to address the issue of creating a mixed-income community. You can see a graphic of this theory of change below:
To summarize: we believe that we will see success of our Mission by getting to a healthier economic mix in our schools. We feel there is high value for both kids coming from vulnerable circumstances as well as from more stable circumstances. In order to get this mix, the neighborhood has to possess a quality standard and mix of affordable and market rate housing.
Our schools need to be drivers of investment into our neighborhood and our neighborhood’s families need to invest their children in our schools. In order for this to happen, we need two things: 1. Amazing schools, and 2. A Vibrant Community.
We achieve the amazing schools through collective impact: organizations working together to create lasting solutions to social problems on a large scale (see part 1 of this blog for more info). We create a vibrant community through fostering greater social connection, greater civic engagement and a strong sense of community.
So, what does this mean for our work?
It means that Growing Together is continuing the work we have been doing in our schools, but we need a focus area to test this Theory of Change in an intense and rapid way. We have decided to focus this test in just one of our two neighborhoods. Additionally, we are developing a housing arm of our organization to take this issue head-on. We are currently working with all our partners on an intense, comprehensive plan that we will deploy and accelerate our path in the next five years.
We have an intense road ahead. We are committed to doing “whatever it takes” to ensure that the kids we serve have the pathways necessary to break the cycle that poverty so often impales upon our neighborhood kids. But for this to succeed, it will ultimately take a resolve by the families who currently live in our neighborhood to commit to and stay committed to our neighborhood schools. We are working to make this proposition a less risky one to undertake.
Secondly, it is going to take forward thinking, justice-minded individuals to say that they want to be a part of the solution. One major shift is for we, as parents, to fight the pervasive view of parenting that our job as parents and as individuals, is to only protect our own children and our own interests. We must see our neighbors’ success as our responsibility as well as theirs and adopt to ideology that we must all do what we can to be our brother’s keeper.
Will you be part of the solution?