fsg / Policylink /
systems leadership institute
Working in collaboration, FSG, PolicyLink and Systems Leadership Institute are building community capacity to support integrative problem-solving by developing the knowledge and skills of local leaders to manage change within complex social systems.
FSG’s approach is fundamentally based on the need to engage a broad system of actors who influence outcomes for students in the educational system. In partnership with PolicyLink and the Systems Leadership Institute, they believe that transforming educational systems is ultimately about transforming the relationships among the various organizations and people who shape those systems. They are working with two communities—Staten Island, NY and Oceanside, CA—to support this necessary but elusive transformation by integrating three disciplines:
Systems Thinking – helping community and district leaders observe and understand root causes of problems and focus on higher-leverage change strategies.
Collective Impact – bringing together people and organizations across sectors in a structured way to achieve social change.
Equity Framing – increasing the capacity of stakeholders to understand and inquire together into the social, political and cultural dynamics (such as the interplay of power, race, and socioeconomics) within their system.
They have formed a Steering Committee (typically 25-30 individuals) that has agreed to meet on a monthly basis in the first year of the work. Meetings are facilitated by members of the consulting team at first, with that responsibility transferred to members of the community over time.
Capacity Building Workshops
The three organizations collaborate to provide the capacity building support required to assist the community in moving forward their systems change effort within their school district and community using the Collective Impact approach. This includes prioritizing intensive and broad community engagement on problem definition, creating space for reflection and generative conversations to build trust across stakeholders, establishing systems for communication across existing silos, conducting data analysis to elevate disparities in outcomes, and setting up a backbone entity to manage the process.
Collaborative Decision Making
The three organizations bring together multiple stakeholders from the community—including school districts, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, residents and families, and many others—to collectively make decisions around what problem to address. With that noted, the team began its process by ensuring that district leaders (i.e., superintendents) were on board with this approach, as the team believes they are critical for success and sustainability.