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2013 in Review: Informing Change Near and Far

By Evan A. Gattozzi

What a year it has been! 2013 ushered Informing Change into our new look and name, taking us across the U.S. to work with you—our clients—to advance your missions and create change. Here are some highlights of our travels and learnings.

We hit the road on a three-city tour with our partner, ChangeCraft (formerly the Center for Leadership Initiatives), and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The tour brought together stakeholders from across the Reform movement to think collectively and provide input on the URJ’s youth engagement strategy moving forward. We were reminded of the many benefits that this hands-on, multi-city platform provided, including having the ability to connect and think together with a swath of local, regional and national stakeholders who represent diverse backgrounds, opinions and experiences across the movement.

Over the summer, we visited summer learning programs in San Francisco and Sacramento, focused on providing students with high quality and engaging enrichment experiences. The programs are part of a cohort of summer learning programs supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, reaching students throughout the state of California and building the field of summer learning. A supporting factor of the focus on quality is the emphasis on assessment and evaluation. Articulated measures help program providers assess program quality, identify areas for improvement and provide insight into focus areas for technical assistance. One result of this work is building local program ownership that is expanding to program accountability, planning and improvement.

Our work with the Jim Joseph Foundation, the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Foundation for Jewish Camp took us across the country from southern California, to Washington, Wisconsin, Georgia and Massachusetts to six overnight camps that are part of the ground-breaking Nadiv initiative. While remembering the fun and excitement of what it means to be a camper, we talked with camp staff to find out how Jewish education and enrichment are permeating camp culture. As with many programs working to bring change to programming and culture, we were reminded of the importance of strong relationships between key stakeholder (which at camp includes campers, staff and educators), along with the readiness of the campers and staff for ensuring meaningful and quality change.

As we work with organizations and foundations across North America we value the opportunity to work together in-person and see change in action. We know 2014 will continue to bring excitement and learning to our data-driven work. Keep an eye on Insights on Change as we document our travels and learnings throughout the year.