Intermediary Organizations and the Business of Impact: Enacting a Vision for Equity by Leveraging Learning
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CitationOlajide, Frances-Victoria. 2017. Intermediary Organizations and the Business of Impact: Enacting a Vision for Equity by Leveraging Learning. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIntermediary organizations are an increasingly relevant instrument for implementing policy and informing instructional practices in a growing school improvement industry. The Deeper Learning Equity Fellows (DLEF) is a 24-month, cohort-based leadership experience co-led by two intermediary organizations, Big Picture Learning and the Internationals Network for Public Schools. The fellowship was created to convene in-service educators to create a community dedicated to ensuring access to deeper learning student outcomes for all students but especially six student groups vulnerable to encountering discrimination during their school experiences. This capstone chronicles a strategic project undertaken at Big Picture Learning aimed at rationalizing and improving the expanding DLEF program.
I argue that mission-driven intermediary organizations use limited resources most effectively when they leverage tools Marshall Ganz outlines in his definition of social movement leadership and cultivate learning. Organizations whose environments and patterns of communication inhibit open discussion of error are ill equipped to leverage their existing strengths in pursuit of enacting a vision. Making the discussion of error and ‘undiscussable’ topics approachable can become a source of continuously improving strategy and usable knowledge since the ability to discuss these topics create more hospitable environments for learning behaviors.
This case study of an agent invested in learning and the persistent practice of self love leading a strategic initiative on behalf of Big Picture Learning suggests that mission-driven intermediaries can leverage model II behaviors and double-loop learning as a tool to expand their own accountability. An individual and organizational focus on learning can develop the capacity of intermediary leaders to deliver solutions that are inextricably connected to the needs of clients, the long-term social goals that these intermediaries pursue, and leadership practices that support staff retention and continuous improvement.
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