ACT for Alexandria: Engaging community members in setting strategic priorities and developing a strategic plan

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ACT for Alexandria: Engaging community members in setting strategic priorities and developing a strategic plan

THE CHALLENGE

Design a strategic plan centering lived experience and shared decision-making power.

THE OUTCOME

Community-designed vision statement, a refined mission statement, and new, community-designed strategies to support community well-being and community support.

OUR APPROACH

When ACT for Alexandria (ACT), a community foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, decided to develop a new strategic plan in 2022, staff and board members knew they wanted to engage community members in the process to help ensure the new strategy focused on the issues that were having the biggest impact on residents’ lives. ACT partnered with Community Wealth
Partners and affiliate consultant Dax-Devlon Ross to design and facilitate a strategic planning process with broad community impact.

We worked with the community foundation to form a diverse Community Listening and Strategic Planning team comprised of Alexandria, VA, residents with lived experience (race immigration, and poverty), foundation board members and staff, representatives from community-based organizations, and civic leaders. The foundation provided the eight residential members of the planning team with a stipend and reimbursement for childcare and transportation expenses.

The team engaged 300 Alexandria residents in interviews, focus groups, and a survey to understand the community’s vision for the future of Alexandria and how ACT can help. Through that process, affordable housing emerged as the biggest priority, followed by education, economic success, and racial equity.

To develop strategies, we interviewed community leaders with expertise in these priority areas to better understand these issues in Alexandria and possible roles ACT could play. We also conducted funder research to understand the likelihood of funding from different sources.

RESULTS

The new strategy includes a new, community-designed vision statement, a refined mission statement, and new, community-designed strategies to support community well-being and community support. In response to the new strategy, ACT has launched The ACT Housing Fund, which helps ensure Alexandrians have access to or can stay in safe, affordable housing.

 

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