Archive for September, 2014

CommunityWise partners with Innoweave

by Erin McFarlane, Community Development Coordinator, CommunityWise Resource Centre

CommunityWise Resource Centre (CWRC) is a multi-sector nonprofit centre located in downtown Calgary. CWRC is a collaborative space for over 80 diverse not-for-profit and grassroots groups to pursue their social change missions within the context of inclusive community development and resource sharing.

Owing in significant part to their small sizes, the majority of CWRC’s member organizations bump up against capacity shortfalls. Their budgets are scarce, they have few paid staff, and they typically lack access to the time and financial resources needed to seek out training opportunities that could contribute to enhanced competencies, skills, and knowledge. As an augmentation of its pre-existing role as an “umbrella” organization for members, CWRC has recently embarked on the process of developing a Collaborative Framework to formalize and expand opportunities for member capacity building through collaboration.

Innoweave has played a pivotal role in how our Collaborative Framework project has unfolded over the past year. Our group has participated in webinars and workshops on Collective Impact and Developmental Evaluation. Particularly with the developmental evaluation workshop, we felt an instant connection to the approach being described, as it aligns with how we intuitively approach much of our work anyway. We’re excited to be learning how to more comprehensively integrate evaluation into our project in a dynamic, iterative way and to be encouraged to think more strategically about the project. For instance, we recently completed a theory of change, after being encouraged to do so by Innoweave.

The coaching grant is enabling us to work closely with a community-minded evaluator and kindred spirit who genuinely understands the vision of the Collaborative Framework. We are thrilled to be able to implement an approach to evaluation that is so aligned with our community development lens in order to move toward a bunch of interrelated changes, namely that our member organizations:

  • are more resilient and have adequate financial, material and human resources to support their missions
  • are able to fulfill their diverse social change missions
  • are increasingly able to contribute to social change in a number of diverse and crucial areas

A diverse cross-section of the CommunityWise member community. The Innoweave project for which they received the grant is about increasing the capacities of this community through collaboration.

Calgary Reads partners with Innoweave

by Aditya Banerjee, Director of Research, Calgary Reads

Calgary Reads creates positive change in literacy outcomes for children by mobilizing business, education, and community to care and act together with ingenuity. In recent years, we have diversified from offering one tutor program to over 18 programs and initiatives that help schools, parents, and communities create literacy-rich learning environments.

Grants from two of Innoweave’s modules, Developmental Evaluation and Scaling Impact, have helped us begin to address two of our biggest challenges: identifying the essential components of Calgary Reads’ work, which is in turn informed by identifying the essential conditions that create confident and joyful readers; and learning how to scale these core components across other jurisdictions. We are running an 18-month prototype, called Reading Places, in five high-needs Calgary Schools, to test the conditions that create a community of readers.

Under the direction of our coach, we are in the process of asking developmental questions to help us to more clearly define a Reading Place – to understand the “it” that we are testing. These questions have guided the first phase of our work. Additional outcome questions will help us to understand what difference a Reading Place makes (the “so what”) and if the model is worthy of scaling.

These questions, along with on-going learning and reflection, will guide our work through and beyond the pilot process.

In short, the twin grants from Innoweave will allow us to scale down to determine the essence of our work, before scaling those core components up and out across new territories.

kid reads

Calgary Reads helps to create a reading place for children