Dr. Mary Ellen Fleger’s Foundations as Learning Communities. An incomplete guide for you.
Learning Communities are:
- A group of people having common interests.
- Groups of people engaged in intellectual interaction for the purpose of learning.
- One way to build the commonalities & connections essential to our education and our society.
- The integration of work and learning creating the capacity to think big.
Components of learning communities:
- Purpose with goals & objectives
- Issues & topics to address
- Affiliated participants
- Meetings & activities
- Scholarly process for learning
- Community connections, partnerships, engagement
- Assessment/evaluation of activities & projects
Why Learning Communities?
- Philosophical: they fit into a changing philosophy of knowledge.
- Research based: fit with research that tells us about learning.
- Pragmatic: learning communities work. They allow you to continue a collective learning process across many organizations.
New thinking/Learning Communities:
- Focus on community changes.
- Imagine the difference if the starting point for foundations was not what they do best or like best, but what the community needs most.
- Learning communities provide people the time and opportunity for interaction and talk about ideas, one’s work, and the larger community.
The Southern Oregon Grant makers Affinity Group as a learning community:
- Each organization will see how universal their deepest problems are.
- Inevitable setbacks and crisis occur for everyone and you can help the community from derailing.
- When facing challenges of profound change, there is no substitute for collaboration: people coming together out of common purpose, willing to support one another, so an entire community benefits.
New opportunity for Foundations:
Fix it approach
- Focus on correction & analysis of problems
- Little margin of error
- Focus on what’s wrong
- Problems stronger that vision of collaboration
Create it approach:
- Create something new that we want
- Expect error, tolerance for chaos
- Focus on what we want to accomplish
- Vision stronger than problems
New paradigm for Foundations:
- Takes you from fragmentation to integration
- Creates community networks
- All members are tied together in some fashion
- Decisions are made by the network in concert with the community
- This seamless giving community will bring economies of scale, greater efficiency, and reduced duplication
Fixing financial incentives:
- When financial incentives change, behavior changes
- A shift in incentives translates into concrete decisions & actions
Who’s in charge?
- Community accountability is most elusive, but is an important characteristic of a learning community.
- If it’s best to close some services/agencies, merge others, or reduce certain ones, then the members must do that.
- A learning community is accountable to the broader geographic community.
- Consumer satisfaction is one criteria by which you will be judged.