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UC social-change summit goes “glocal,” spotlighting city’s collective impact
Greater Cincinnati’s success rallying education, business and industry, philanthropy and community organizations to solve pressing and complex social problems will draw national attention March 2-4 during the NEXTLIVESHERE: Social Change Innovation Summit.
Thanks to a $250,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Includes grant, the Kingsgate Marriott Conference Center at the University of Cincinnati (UC) will host 200 regional and national leaders and those interested in increasing diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and careers. UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) won the conference grant, along with 9 others across the country, last fall. Funding covers the registration and meal costs for conference-goers.
The summit immerses participants in a deep exploration of barriers, successes, best practices and cutting-edge research with nationally known local experts and visionaries from across the country. Cincinnati has become a center for collective impact, a framework of cross-sector partners with a shared vision, goals and measurement to forge social change. Specifically, the summit addresses how to build a backbone organization to support that work.
Grant principal investigator Dr. Kathie Maynard, CECH assistant dean for innovations and community partnerships, shares NSF’s “glocal vision of working local and thinking global. This convention will create deeper engagement locally to drive an elevated strategy of STEM education and careers,” which offer higher salaries and fill a growing regional job shortfall. “We want to replicate the models working in Cincinnati using our national networks and this summit.”
The term collective impact was coined in 2011 in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Executive philanthropy advisor Shiloh Turner, a local with global experience in social change, co-authored subsequent articles. “We all have a role to play in community impact to achieve shared goals and, when we work together, we have a much stronger chance of actually making large scale social change happen.”
“Cincinnati has been creating this type of social change even before the terminology existed,” according to Turner. She’s witnessed collective impact solve large-scale wicked problems and believes it can tackle NSF’s initiative by “establishing a shared goal with shared measurement so all are on the same page and working toward the same thing.”
Turner will participate in the conference as a “firestarter,” an expert who will be on the ground lighting conversation rather than lecturing from a podium. “The point is to introduce provocative concepts and open shared dialogue to learn together.” She plans to push a little “and talk about where we need to get better. Cincinnati has been very successful with engagement at the institutional level, but less so in engaging the people directly affected. It’s a real challenge to get better at authentic communication.”
Conference co-designer and facilitator Mike Fleisch, who works with groups worldwide to rethink big problems through dpict and The Value Web, is excited about using “emergent design” in his hometown along with the Design Impact firm. “Conferences tend to push information,” Fleisch said. “Our approach is that knowledge and experience are distributed among those coming together to share and create. It’s impossible to completely solve large, complex problems in three days, but after a rigorous collaboration, people sense they’ve collectively designed something new and have the hope of actually engaging with those problems in the real world.”
Maynard expects about two-thirds of attenders to be local, many representing the regional organizations with a track record of social change. The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, StrivePartnership, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr/U.S. Bank Foundation, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative and Design Impact are part of the grant and conference. These organizations with an effective collective-impact imprint will also participate: Agenda 360, Green Umbrella, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Success by 6 and Skyward. The other third will represent NSF Includes projects from around the nation.
For more information or to apply to attend the conference, visit cech.uc.edu/NLH or call (513) 556-5745.