Mar 08, 2012

Rapid Design for Leadership Program in Communities across the US

A Rapid Design session RCLA recently hosted with Communities In Schools, the largest evidence-based dropout prevention organization in the country, brought together CIS staff from the national, state and local levels to shape a leadership program for executive directors of its nearly 200 local affiliate organizations in communities across the US. 

The design process incorporated diagnostic interviewing, small group work, a campaign approach to strategic change, and feedback about the methodology and proposed program structure. The session drew on the strategy and leadership expertise of CFAR (Center For Applied Research), a long-time RCLA partner.

The two-day, intensive session clarified program priorities and established a structure for the leadership program so it will be ready to pilot nationally this year. The program will build capacity and expertise within CIS affiliates and advance their talent development efforts. Priority areas will be helping the executive directors who participate to develop strategic agility, influence, political savvy and adaptive capacity, as well as giving them management tools and frameworks they can use in a variety of contexts and share with their networks. The goal of the program is also to advance business planning, organizational strategy and community impact as part of delivering on CIS's mission to empower students to stay in school and achieve in life.

The program will be based on a robust curriculum and peer-learning model, with a series of learning sessions, site visits and learning exchanges, professional assessments, coaching, and team-based action learning projects. It will also include a Web-based community platform to facilitate sharing and connections among CIS staff across the country.

The Rapid Design session built on a collaborative five-month process funded by MetLife, in which RCLA and CIS have worked to design a new approach to developing local talent for CIS's school reform movement in ways that both strengthen its work in school districts across the United States and serve as an innovative model for the field more broadly. The initiative builds on a rigorous five-year evaluation of Communities In Schools' program model that highlighted the importance of strong affiliate leadership and of school leadership support for CIS.

Communities In Schools is a Social Innovation Fund and Edna McConnell Clark Foundation True North Fund grantee.

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