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Blog Archives

Small Acts from the Field

As we embark on another school year, I am reminded that my kids will take countless small acts this year that will help shape who they are and who they become. Like the process of learning, our social change work is a lifelong journey made of hundreds of small acts that shape the kind of change we make—incremental or transformational—and ultimately propel us forward to make big progress. Small acts …Read More

On Charlottesville: A Defining Moment for the Nonprofit Sector

This is a moment that will define us as a nonprofit sector. It calls on us to look deeply at our humanity, examine our own actions and biases, and recognize, as the Heinz Endowments’ Grant Oliphant wrote, that “this, too, is America.” This hatred is part of the U.S. as well as the love we hold so deeply. What happened in Charlottesville is not new and, for many, not surprising. …Read More

Normalizing Inclusion: Why Culture Matters in Post-Election America

Since the election, it has felt as if we are living in unprecedented times. While we have long been challenged by divided politics, we are now experiencing something far more dangerous: the normalization of bigotry, xenophobia, racism and misogyny on a mass scale. Marginalized individuals and communities have had to deal with this prejudicial thinking for far too long. Many have fought to change the systems and mindsets that perpetuate …Read More

“The Road to Character” is Our Employee Value Proposition

David Brooks’ new book, The Road to Character, has received a lot of press attention because it suggests that there are two distinct life paths we all face. There is the path lined with “résumé virtues,” or those focused on personal brand-building and pursuit of success at all costs. Then there is the path lined with “eulogy virtues,” or those character traits we all want to be remembered for, such …Read More

Influence and the Fight for School Breakfast

“No child should be learning on an empty stomach.” Impactful words from the New York Times and another voice adding to the effort to expand breakfast as part of the school day in NYC. The fact is that children can’t learn when they’re hungry. And while school breakfast is free to all, only a fraction of New York City kids are actually getting the healthy breakfast they need, missing out on …Read More

Is it possible to solve a social problem? Two cities just did.

By Sara Brenner Over the holiday season, one city’s bold goal captured the press spotlight: the mayor of Phoenix announced on December 18 that the city had ended veteran’s homelessness. And then on January 6, Salt Lake City announced that they also had ended homelessness among military veterans. Both announcements reflect the power of setting bold goals and mobilizing cross-sector collaboration in pursuit of such goals Both cities’ efforts were …Read More

In collaboratives, don’t forget to decide how to decide

By Sara Brenner Have you ever been part of a collaborative in which meeting after meeting you felt stuck and decisions were not made?   When talking with leaders across the country who are making transformational change, this sentiment is often shared. Leaders communicate a great optimism for the work, but also a frustration with the pace of progress. We hear about the importance of pivoting from planning to action, …Read More

Cross-Sector Leadership from the Presidio to the Jet Bridge

By Sara Brenner Last week I joined senior officials from the White House, Congress, the State of California, private industry, and the social sector for the Forum on Cross-Sector Leadership at the Presidio Institute in San Francisco. The Forum focused on exploring real-world examples of cross-sector partnerships and contributing to the design of the Presidio Institute as a global laboratory for incubating best cross-sector practices and fostering lasting partnerships to solve major societal challenges. One of …Read More

How the Camden Coalition is Making Health Care Quality Contagious

By Sara Brenner In Camden, NJ – a city in which nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line – Dr. Jeffrey Brenner and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers have realized dramatic results that demonstrate it’s possible to improve health while decreasing health care costs.  Their approach – discussed in last week’s blog post – which combines data and discipline with a deep understanding of people is …Read More