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How Leadership Development Programs Can Harvest Social Change Though Their Alumni Network (April 2017)

Earlier this month we announced, via email and social media, the finalists of our Action Learning Seed Fund. In case you missed it, our finalists are The WISE Network, Black Muslim Youth Rising - Intensive Leadership Retreat, and VigilantLove Creative Organizing & Healing Justice.


The Model

In January, the Leadership Learning Community announced it would disburse $25,000 in Seed Funding. It would be a small fund intended to seed work developing the leadership of people of color that could foster learning in the network to increase racial equity work. Thanks to you all we were able to engage hundreds of different people in this collective and networked process. The applications did not require a large lift for any of the applicants and reviewers were able to score each application on four criteria.


The Seed Fund model was a successful network engagement. Each application required the collaboration of at least three individuals to apply, in addition each application was reviewed by two of our 109 reviewers. We directly engaged over 500 people (applicants, reviewers, and selection committee members).



Experimentation & Replication

Now imagine what it might look like for leadership development programs to implement this model as an engagement strategy for their alumni networks. Leadership program alumni typically struggle to put into practice what they’ve learned, especially in collaboration with other graduates. However, if programs provided seed funds to foster opportunities for alumni to collaborate with one another afterwards, it would create new opportunities to put their learning to the test. It could become an opportunity to experiment in creative ways to activate leadership across the network.

Leadership development programs could engage their alumni in the application and review process and continue the momentum through quarterly communities of practice where they could reunite virtually or face-to-face to check in on their progress. This would tap into the energy and capacity of their networks to create lasting momentum and continue to keep the social justice work going.

In addition, what a great recruiting tool for prospective cohorts. Incoming cohorts would join expecting to be a part of the network efforts that emerge and know that periodically there will be funding to support engagement and innovation. As iterations of the seed funds are completed, programs would also have practical examples of the impact of the work and contributions of the network to share, which is no small feat.


Would you like to review more from our model?