Look to RCLA for state-of-the-art findings on today’s best leadership practices. Join us in a research project that can directly impact your work.
We partner with foundations, government agencies, nonprofits and other academic centers to conduct research and evaluation that help build high-impact leadership development strategies and provide opportunities for organizational learning. Because these inquiries are tailored to organizations’ unique questions and complex challenges, they have a unique depth and salience – both in the research process and its findings.
In addition to research methods such as ethnography, case studies, narrative inquiry and surveys, RCLA uses participatory methodologies to engage real-world public leaders who are both consumers of RCLA’s research and a key source in generating new knowledge. Such collaborative learning enables people to gain new insights into their own leadership practices and informs the field of public service more broadly.
Based on RCLA’s deep expertise in action learning methodologies and peer-learning, the Center offers technical assistance and training to organizations and academic institutions that want to incorporate ongoing learning and leadership development into their organizational cultures.
For example, we conduct trainings in Cooperative Inquiry, a process of cycles of action and reflection that enables public service leaders to take their most pressing questions and turn them into systemic inquiries with peers facing similar quandaries. These processes are designed specifically to draw on the expertise of individuals confronting these leadership challenges on a daily basis in order to find relevant and workable solutions.
As an academic research center committed to helping solve real-world issues, RCLA partners with individuals and organizations to develop breakthrough thinking and conduct research that is both rigorous and relevant. Highlights of our recent work include:
Over ten years, the Institute of International Education developed and sustained leaders working on family planning and health issues in five countries of greatest need. RCLA collaborated with the IIE West Coast Center and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to conduct a participatory evaluation that examined the impact of the leadership program on improving health outcomes for vulnerable people.
Social change organizations – facing increased competition for fewer public and private resources – need to grow and diversify their funding in ways that reflect their justice-based missions and values. Based on RCLA’s work with social change leaders for almost a decade, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation partnered with RCLA to deliver insights into creative fundraising and revenue-generation strategies.
Strategic support from grantmakers can significantly expand nonprofits' impact through opportunities to develop and share knowledge in a community of peers. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations selected RCLA to study learning communities as a vehicle to support grantee learning. Based on six case studies, the research offers insights into different types of learning communities, their common challenges and their role in helping scale effective practices.
RCLA and National Urban Fellows have partnered to advance diverse leadership and inclusion in public service organizations. The project has offered insight into the latest scholarly findings, a scan of regional and national programs that support leaders of color, and practical recommendations for organizations and individuals who want to build more inclusive organizations.
Women’s World Banking and the MasterCard Foundation selected RCLA to conduct a three-year participatory evaluation of WWB's Center for Microfinance Leadership. Started in response to changes in the microfinance industry, from a decrease in female staff members at microfinance providers to increasing commercialization, the Center aims to bring the best of leadership development and gender diversity initiatives to the sector.
Since 2009, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute have convened scholars and practitioners from across the region committed to illuminating and nurturing leadership for public well-being. The high-level working sessions and public fora have been an opportunity to discuss leadership that transcends sectors, transforms ordinary citizens into change agents, and opens up new public spaces for deliberation and engagement.
RCLA was the research partner for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World program, which recognized exemplary nonprofits across the US. This research has shed light on how grassroots organizations working in conditions of severe material scarcity recognize abundance in marginalized communities and employ strategic leadership practices to catalyze people to take up leadership and make change.