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Conditions for Successful Community Improvement

The Kresge foundation is one of the leading philanthropic organizations in the Detroit area. In a keynote speech at the MassINC Gateway Cities innovation awards conference on November 13th 2014, Kresge President, Rip Rapson, highlighted 4 conditions for successful community improvement:

 - Don't assume trends are inevitable,

 - Be sure there is a common vision for the direction,

 - Gain traction from early wins, and

 - Distribute leadership.

These conditions relate closely to some important aspects of the Teachers21 framework for school and district improvement:

  • Not assuming that prior trends are predictors of the future is the essence of the Growth Mindset: we can change the trajectory of students, teachers and schools if we learn from the past and set higher expectations for the future.
  • Ensuring a common vision for the direction involves agreeing on, and articulating, a Vision and Core Values, and Teaming effectively to achieve that vision.
  • Gaining traction from early wins underlies the idea of a Continuous Improvement Process. The goal should be to consistently make progress since no change process will ever be complete.
  • Distributed leadership implies Shared Responsibility. There is no place for blame, just a need for ownership and accountability going forward.

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