Learning Community on Shifting Systems Toward Greater Equity

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New York City

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We are thrilled to invite you to attend the October 14-15 convening of the Social Impact Exchange Learning Community, “Shifting Systems Toward Greater Equity.” We will dig deep into two essential strategic aspects of rigorous systems change: (1) identifying the places to intervene to transform systems (through mapping analysis), and (2) forming collaborative networks. We will approach these discussion from a lens of equity, including an emphasis on racial inequities in existing systems and how these two strategic components of systems change can be structured to identify and address them.

In this session we will use a case study from a state-wide education systems change initiative in Massachusetts to illustrate the concepts in a tangible, “live” example, including how this initiative developed messaging and communications that have resonated. We will also apply the concepts to the specific issues that each participant is trying to influence through their own grantmaking and projects. As always, there will be significant time for peer learning and networking.

Our confirmed speakers are highly respected leaders in the fields of systems change and/or racial equity. We are thrilled that they will be sharing their wisdom and expertise with us!

  • Tonya Allen, President & Chief Executive Officer, The Skillman Foundation, will offer her insights and experience from her vantage point as funder on the relationship between systems change, collaborative networks, and racial equity.
  • Marta Ceroni, Executive Director, Donella Meadows Institute, will share a presentation that covers fundamental concepts and tools in systems thinking and practices.
  • Nick Donohue, President & CEO, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, will share his insights and experience as a funder on the relationship between systems change, collaborative networks, and racial equity.
  • Marcus Littles, Founder and Senior Partner, Frontline Solutions, will guide us throughout the two-day session and lead a conversation on day two to help participants consider what it means to develop networks that center equity.
  • Carolyn McCarthy, Systems Analyst, Vibrancy Institute, will facilitate a hands-on exploration of a systems map created for an initiative in Massachusetts focused on all children thriving. Carolyn will lead us as we read the map together and identify the high leverage areas within the map that can lead to transformational change.
  • Melinda Weekes-Laidlow, President, Weekes in Advance Enterprises, will lead a conversation examining how racial inequities are present in our current systems and how we might go about addressing them.

Additional speakers will join us to share their perspectives and experiences.

The Details:
October 14 8:00 am – 5:30 pm with drinks to follow
October 15: 8:00 am – 2:30 pm
Location: New York City (Exact location will be announced soon!)

About the Learning Community
By coming together to discuss key theories, research and practice in a structured learning environment, local and national foundations are coming away with a unique set of tools and knowledge they can apply directly to achieving large-scale impact in their grantmaking.

Over 50 foundations and partners have participated in the Learning Community and have confirmed it helps them think and act differently about their grantmaking. One participant recently expressed: "Our eyes have been opened to the tensions between investing in short-term fixes versus longer-term systemic change, and how to approach finding a balance to do both."

This Learning Community focuses on systems change and cross-sector networks and is offered to foundations and others interested in a wide range of funding areas such as education, health, poverty, and the environment. Each session combines presentations of theories and frameworks, outside expert speakers and peer learning opportunities.

The two-day agenda will include time for interaction among participants, tools and tips you can apply in your work, and relevant publications and other resources. We encourage participants to bring to the conversation their experience, knowledge, and questions so that they can learn from and grapple with their challenges together. While each session builds upon the last, there is no requirement to have attended a previous session. Thanks to the generosity of many Learning Community members, the sessions are offered free of charge.

Feel free to be in touch with Jennifer Cleghorn,, or Anne Sherman,, with any questions.

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New York City

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