Transformative and Affirming… a Message from the Director


Those are the two words that sum up and describe my experience at the Leadership Institute at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s ReDesign Lab. Although the experience for our team of 4 — which in addition to myself included ROC the Future Chair, Ajamu Kitwana, and Conveners Simeon Banister from the Community Foundation, and Jerome Underwood from Action for a Better Community — might be expressed in different ways by each of us, I’m sure we’d agree that these two words appropriately describe what we walked away with.

ROC the Future was selected as one of 3 StriveTogether communities to participate in this inaugural Leadership Institute for collective impact initiatives focused on education.  In total, more than 100 people from 21 cohort communities from the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Communities in Schools, By All Means (Harvard’s own initiative), Communities in Schools and StriveTogether, were the first teams to share this experience together, and learn about ways to drive systems change thinking in collective impact initiatives.

We spent our days in lectures and work sessions, and our evenings doing pre-work and reading papers and case studies about transformative thinking and solution building.  We learned that while Rochester might be unique in terms of the magnitude of some of our problems, almost every community in the country is struggling with a K-12 system that is complex and stressed.  Educators alone will not and cannot transform this complex system, nor should they.

The more complex the system, the more we need social solutions to address our brokenness.  And the most effective solutions are not those closest to systems of power; they are the ones closest to the complex problems we are trying to solve.  Which is exactly what we are doing through our Outcomes Framework.  In the end, systems change is about people change, and ROC the Future is in the right place to center improvement at the student, school and community levels….together.  Affirmation!

Look for updates about our team work in future newsletters…there will be lots to share!