Organizational Capacity Building

Candace LaRue and Associates

Policy Information from the Afterschool Alliance

Do you subscribe to the Afterschool Alliance’s “Afterschool Snack”? You will find excellent policy information on it. 

Most recently they reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill (LHHS), which funded the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative at $1.15 billion, the same level as last year. However, the bill includes language that would change federal afterschool policy and divert those 21st CCLC dollars from afterschool and summer learning programs. If this bill becomes law, communities will lose their afterschool programs and many more children will be unsupervised during the hours while their parents are at work. 

View the entire article at The Afterschool Snack.

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Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Inner Cities

Here is an interesting HBR article about entrepreneurship and innovation in inner cities. But, the assumption is that all this will be imported. Attract the most talented entrepreneurs, then help them attract “talent” to work for them. The unit of analysis is the place of the inner city, not the community. However, I could see these policies applied to building local living economies with the talent that already exists in inner cities, and then it might have some real impact.

Innovation and Inner Cities

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Evening keynote: Money and Climate – Can Both Exxon and the Planet be Healthy

Bill McKibben was introduced as a key environmental activist and an accomplished author. The Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and a Durable Economy is his book from 2007. He is also the founder of He is also an activist in campaign finance reform, citing that Congress has an approval rating of 9%.

This is a summary of Bill McKibben’s talk.

The work that you all are about this weekend is all about the idea of a localized, more sensible, and more durable economy. This is what neighbors in Vermont are doing when they work together, and it is remarkable what has happened in the last 10 years. In a Gourmet article a number of years ago, there was an article about about the experiment to eat local for a year – now this is almost a cliche. Last year, the USDA announced that for the first time in 150 years, there are more farms than in the previous year. This is all the good news here first….for the first time on Saturday, the country of Germany generated more than half of its electricity with solar panels. Our challenge is not technological, it is sociological and political. This work will continue not only because of its ecological work, but because local economy is a different social construct that appeals to who really are. The economic project to identify us as consumers, not people or neighbors, has had many devastating result ecological and socially. People are not, statistically, as satisfied as 50 years, the average American of today has half as many close friends as 50 years ago. The real appear of the local economy is its social superiority.

When sociologists follow shoppers around the supermarkets compared to the farmers market, people had on average 10 times more conversations per visit. That is why this idea will win out. It is who we are. That is how all human beings have shopped for food for 10,000 years. This virtual cycle will carry the day. But, it faces one overwhelming obstacle, which will derail everything if we do not address the problem. That is the remarkable degradation of the planet.

We knew many years ago how greenhouse gasses affected sunlight, but we did not know how much it would change things. The temperature has raised only by 1 degree, but it has led to tremendous changes all over the world. The thing we notice most of all are what has happened to the planets hydrology around the world. The atmosphere is about 4% more humid than before climate change, under-riding the climatic stability that allowed for the expanse of human society. This leads to loading the dice in favor of drought and flooding. All around the world, people have shared through how they have been affected by both drought and flooding. In Vermont, the hurricane in August caused tremendous amount of destruction – 200-year old bridges washed away. This anecdotal evidence is mirrored in the statistical evidence. Old 1 day rainfall records in Vermont were broken by 25 and 30%. statistically, that shouldn’t be possible. Except that the rain was not falling on the same planet as all those years ago.

We are just at the beginning. We have raised the planet by 1 degree, but the same scientists are saying that the rise will be 4 and 5 degrees by the end of the century. It is already hard, and we do not know if society can adapt to changes this big. It is even hard for vibrant local economies. In Vermont, for example, many of those organic farms people have been building for 15 and 20 years were covered in a foot of sand. There is a 120 acre farm in Burlington where young farmers come to learn – they did not harvest anything last fall.

We cannot rescue our things just by doing what we need to do at home. If we do not take care of the large global crisis, we wont be able to realize the future to which we are all working. The good news is that the most of what we need to do will also help the transition to a new economy enormously. One of the most important things we could do is to put accurate prices on carbon. No one else except for the fossil fuel industry can pass off all the environmental costs of their indurstry onto others. Restaurants are not allowed to dump garbage into the street for free because we know it will lead to bad results. Pricing carbon will lead to other changes. For example, industrial agriculture relies on cheap fossil fuel. If we accurately priced carbon, many people who never considered being a locavores would all of a sudden try it out and find how wonderful it can be.

But we are not doing this, instead careening down a path of ever greater use of fossil fuels. The world summits have been disasters, and we cannot afford any more of this. We need to turn this tide. It is important o figure out why they have been disasters, and how we can turn this tide. We are better at recognizing immediate threats, but this is not the central problem. The central obstacle is the incredible grip of the fossil fuel industry here and around the world. It is about the concentration of resources and wealth in very few hands. Exxon made more money last year than any company in the history of money. These companies have used their money and power to stall, delay, and block any changes that would address climate change.

For a long time we thought that it would be enough to have our leaders sit down and speak with scientists. But it did not work because the fossil fuel industry would be bellowing a toxic mix of threats and lies in the other world. Their business model is the problem. We need to either change their business model or ruin the planet.



We need to find a way to surmount their power, because they will not change voluntarily – they are making too much money. We don’t have more money than Exxon, so we must fight them with other currency – like the currency of movements.

Here are a few stories. Mosquitos really like the warm, wet world we are creating. In Bangladesh, many people are dying of Dengi fever. How unfair is it that the people of Bangladesh are suffering to this extent when the people of Bangladesh are not producing carbon – many people do not drive cars, and are not corrected to the grid. This is a moral problem, and there needs to be a movement.

We have the super structure of a movement, but the only thing we forgot was the movement itself. If 1,000 people is the largest protest for climate change, there must be more done. They created – anything greater than 350 parts per million is incompatible with the development of human society. Arabic numerals were a way to cross linguistic boundaries. They set out to find other people like themselves throughout the world – people worried about environmentalism, women’s issues, development, jobs, public health. They developed training camps around the world and started with a day of action in October 2009. Two days before, the leader in Ethiopia called in tears because the government had taken away their permit, and they were going to do it 2 days early. She did not want to jump the gun, or ruin it for everyone else – and she had 15,000 young people in the street. Environmentalism is not something for rich white people. Most people working with are young and black and brown – because that is who the most people in the world are. There were religious leaders – including in South African and evangelical colleges in the US. The picture in Maldives is symbolic because their archipelago is only about 1 meter above sea level.


The Us is the most recalcitrant, skeptical, and difficult because we are the most addicted to fossil fuel – and that is how addiction goes.

The Tar Sands in Canada are the second largest source of carbon in the world. To protest the Keystone pipeline, people engaged in civil disobedience. They did actions at the capital for two weeks. The first day 80 people showed up. The first batch of people spent three days in the central cell block in DC. Gus Peth was in the next cell, and gave a half hour lecture about his new book. Gus’s son is a lawyer, and Gus smuggled out a note to the press. He said “I’ve held an important positions, but none seem as important as the one I am in right now.”. A number of people in the room were also arrested in the same action. Suddenly people knew about the issue of the keystone pipeline. People followed the President chanting “Yes we Can. Stop the Pipeline.”. They carried signs that had Barak Obama quotes on them. The President agreed to stop the pipeline for a year and study it.

Mitt Romney said his first action if elected would be to approve the pipeline.

This civil disobedience shows that you can take an issue and use a movement to put it at the forefront of people’s mind.

Social media and the Internet helps us get the word out, but it is no substitute for getting people out in the flesh. We need to use the tool in conjunction with people getting together. People can be linked up all over the world using the Internet.

The other lesson is that we are not going to best global warming one pipeline at a time. We need to go deeper into the center of the fossil fuel economy.

This summer the project is to end the direct subsidy given to the
fossil fuel industry each year.

This is the richest industry in the world, and there is no reason to provide them with a subsidy. This is like giving someone a grant to get their 40th bachelor’s degree. There is a bill in the Senate to end subsidies and reclaim more than $1 billion.

70% of republicans, independents, and democrats are all against fossil fuel subsidies. This fight is one we can win. Action is being organized through There is a scoreboard with every member of congress in order to keep track of their positions. You can use your cell phone to get local politicians and leaders to take videos and upload them to the scoreboard to pin people down with their position. Then we will try to change the minds of people who are against ending the subsidies.

The power of this economy we have built to reck the planet demands that we are willing to take strong action to change things. We may have waited too long to get started, and there may be too much money on the other side. The arc of the physical universe is not long the way Dr. MLK said about the moral universe. This has been the warmest and most volatile spring. In Saudi Arabia there was the hottest rain storm ever, at 109 degrees. We don’t know I’d we can stop it.

But if we can, and if we can build a new economy, it requires getting one thing across. We are not radicals, or extremist, or militants.. All we are asking for is a world that works the way the one we were born in works. That is if anything conservative, not radical. If you are willing to make your fortune by changing the way the planet works at all costs, that is the most “radical” thing you can do. Building sustainable economies draws on traditional economies, uses the tools we have now, and works based on who we are.

The Chamber of Commerce filed a brief telling the EPA not to act on climate change because mans would adapt our behavior and physiology to a changing climate – not that its members would change their business models.

(standing ovation)

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Vermont – Building Resilient Food and Energy Systems with Local Capitalism

This is a pretty interesting conference so far…They trapped us in a room for six plenary speakers, and there was no mutiny! That says something about the passion the speakers brought to the podium. I’ve been watching things about the “New Economics Movement” for a while, and I can tell a lot of people are excited to be here and meet people thinking about and working on building economic alternatives that work.

First workshop session – hard to choose!

Vermont – Building Resilient Food and Energy Systems with Local Capitalism
Will Raap, Chuck Ross, and Ellen Kahler


The hope is to move towards a restoration economy with good, sustainable jobs. Vermont has been recognized for a large number of green jobs per capita, and is taking leadership in creating a number of types of green jobs – Chuck and Ellen will speak more about this. Chuck was appointed the Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets and is a former farmer and state legislator. He has been a consistent voice for green jobs, sustainability, and a balance of environmental and human needs. Ellen is the Executive Director for Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund representing a diverse group of stakeholders, working to create sustainable jobs.

Because Vermont is small, and because people talk about alignment, there has been a lot of alignment in Vermont at the state level, with cohesive policy, and can be an example to other states about coordinating efforts at the state level.

Raap mentioned an article – “Open market sustainability” in Solutions Journal by an author from the Smart Strategy Initiative. The article speaks about the opportunity to reset the market system through the idea of open market sustainability – addressing the question of whether capitalism will be an enemy or ally.

1 shift from sprawl to smart growth
2 shift from industrial to regenerative agriculture
3 shift from taxing income to taxing waste – re-pricing things to give the right signals to consumers and businesses.

Vermont can be seen as an example in leading these resets, in a way that can go beyond Vermont.


The goal in Vermont is building sustainably communities and economies, while addressing the ecological challenge of the 21st Century.

Vermont’s secret sauce includes
– community- based at
– sense of place
– entrepreneurial and innovation oriented environment
– local ownership
– Small connected units of organization
– two intersecting systems approaches with a long term plan (Food to Plate and Energy Action Now)

This “secret sauce” is being used in two initiatives, including the food-to-plate network and the energy action network.


This presentation is about top-level approaches on the path forward. Our work is being guided by Five conditions for successful large-scale change from an article in Stanford journal called “Collective Impact” article – I will add the full citation later!

1. Common agenda – common understanding of the problem, shared strategy,
2. shared data system and approach to evaluation and metrics,
3. mutually reinforcing plan of action linked through common mission
4. Consistent and open communication, focused on building trust, common motivation, and reaching objectives
5. Need for a “backbone organization” charged with managing the collective impact with a specific set of skills to coordinate participating organizations and entities

The Food to Plate network included data and 18-month long community engagement process to understand the current system and re-imagining what it might look like in the future. The vision is to move the Vermont food system to meet 80% of caloric needs by 2060 (still in the process of being adopted). The ten year goal is a doubling (5% to 10%) of Vermont food production and consumption. The strategic plan includes 33 goals with metrics for each. Mutuakly reinforcing activities involve continual adjustment of strategies and activities among members of the Food 2 Plate network, using the structure borrowing from the ReAmp model from the Mid West. This involves working groups and task forces working together, “breaking down silos” – looking for game changing, high leverage, high impact activities that we are working on together. The Sustainable Jobs Fund is the network coordinator.

Continuous communication and infrastructure involves people from many different stakeholders, including government and the funding communities. This facilitates identifying activities that are interconnected across aspects of the program. A food systems atlas is being developed that will make data and progress freely accessible, with a goal of connecting people and places.


Energy Action Now Network uses a different systems approach, which started in the reverse of the Farm to Plate network. EAN started with a small group of people who wanted to set new directions and ambitious goals – 100% renewable energy in all sectors by 2030. Once the goal was set, they included a group of about 25 people who are experts in the energy field to develop a strategic plan for a network that is simple enough to understand and implement.


The systems process led to a distillation of the goal down to 80%, and to identify “leverage points” where one success will lead to additional successes. Focusing on the leverage points are identified as where we should be “pushing” to accelerate the system:

Education, mobilizing capital, increasing innovation, regulatory and permit reform

Then, we need to identify what we can do to “push” the leverage points.

The network is now focused around expanding this plan out to identify and implement the specific activities that will use the leverage points to accelerate the system. This network also has a backbone organization and a board of directors representing the culture of the process. In the network structure, “education” is represented by “public engagement.”. The project also includes a “dashboard” with shared measurements, utilizing shared and aligned indicators for all activities. At the top, there is one goal – increasing the share of renewable energy – but at the detailed level there are also indicators for success in public engagement, mobilizing capital, increasing innovation, and regulatory reform.


If you want to create an economy based on care, abundance, and hope, we need metrics that include relationships. The strength of those relationships is what is going to hold us together through crisis. During Hurricane Irene, for example, Vermont could have gone toward chaos or mutual support. People cut off with no water, electricity, or phone for 4 to 5 days got out their ATVs to help their neighbors. The relationships fundamental to the culture and sense of place in Vermont show us that mutual support in the face of challenge is possible. To accelerate the change, it is important to mobilize “good capital for good purposes.”. One of the Farm2Plate lessons is that it is important for organizations, such as farms, to have an awareness of the stage of development, scale and type of organization, and type of market. Farm2Plate utilizes a “continuum of capital” to identify where funding will come from.


Creative financing is especially important for businesses that are not all about the bottom line, but have a wider variety of goals. Some types of funding exist, and others are being in development in Vermont. However, none of these are at scale. Likewise, there are not enough entrepreneurs who are ready to be the next generation of socially responsible business owners – with the seedbed environment in Vermont, it is important to attract enough young entrepreneurs.


There are multiple lessons from this process of building sustainable communities and economies.

– We need to set a direction we all agree on. There needs to be one clear direction so “the perfect” doesn’t become the enemy of the good, where the debate of exactly what we want to have keeps us from doing what we need to do.
– utilize networks
– identify leverage points and specific projects that move leverage points
– collect from people with whom we have built relationships to “get something done”
– in the process of doing things in 2012, we will be changing the landscape of what is possible to be done in 2013 and 2014.
– all of this is grounded in relationships, knowing one another. We need to redefine Ego within the networks in which we operate – individuals and organizations. Helping each other succeed helps ourselves as well.

In times of crisis, commonality of humanity often emerges, around the world.

In the end, it is all about community, and community is flexible. The systems approach is replicable and scalable – the ReAmp model was about a different topic in a different region. Networks must be scalable, adaptable, and nested. Community is how you define it, how you operationalize it, and how you build relationships within it. Vermont is running the 100 yard dash, but not very far down the track – we are invited to watch what is being done in Vermont, and see what comes of it.


F2P and EAN both used ReAmp but started in different places, partially because they were started in different ways. F2p s started by businesses, which led to policy change, which led to the backbone organization. EAN was started by a foundation who wanted to be relevant and start with a group of experts. In both cases, there were “catalyst” organizations that did not become the backbone organizations. Additionally, the leverage points in each network are similar.

Capital mobilization and innovation is where the private sector is an important part of the process. The private sector can then also help to advance regulatory reform and education.


This process is all about getting people to act on their economic and community interests, and on their strengths. We are asking individuals to do what is easy and possible – not what is impossible. We may need to create incentives at the policy level that facilitate change, but the changes are in the interests of individuals – such as ensuring proper insulation of all houses.


Identifying financial capital has not been the problem – finding enough entrepreneurs in the food ctor is what has been truly difficult. The continuum in the presentation was financial, but what about human capital, social capital, and natural? We may need more investment in the other types of capital in order to prime the pump for financial capital.


There are four continuums – capital, education and workforce development, infrastructure (for example, processing centers), technical assistance and business planning.

In each we need to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps to create clear pathways to invest resources for biggest impact. How do we create a structure that builds on individual strengths to fill gaps, with existing organizations.

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Including Corporations

Summary of remarks given by Rebecca Henderson – Prof at Harvard Business School

One more element to the puzzle – the corporation.

How do we transform the corporation for the great opportunity and great challenge we face? Transformation is preferred to leveling the corporations for two reasons – they are very powerful, and they are very efficient. They have been chewing up the planet, but doing it very efficiently.

In order to work with corporations, we need prices on important things like water, resources, and water. This requires a Good State, as Simms said. It is important that progressives be clear they are not saying “we” should be running the economy, or that the state should be running it, but that we need an economy in balance. Corporations perceived as out of control are often run by men and women very concerned about the communities where they operate. It is not a pipe dream to look for corporations that are run through enlightened self-interest – to make money by running corporations in the interest of our children, and communities, and shareholders, and

If we can call on our deepest values and hopes for the future, combined with hard headed realism about what we need to run the economy for 8 or 9 billion people, we can make it happen.

All it takes is years of blood sweat and toil.

Her class “reimagining capitalism” class at Harvard Business school now has 200 students!

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Youth leading the way

The Promise Neighborhoods Technical Assistance provider from Harlem Children’s Zone met with the Youth Advisory Board today, and he emphasized something that we agree is a key point:

The youth are the ones who will change the world.

Community change happens when adults and youth work in partnership. Adults with the power to make decisions need the voices of youth for the simple reason that if they listen to the kids, they will make better decisions.

The YAB in Hudson, along with Maeve’s dissertation research project at Harvey Milk High School are living experiments in using Participatory Action Research to build that adult-youth partnership and create a structure where youth are not only able to use their voices, but to develop them to be more effective.

After finishing those big grant applications this week, that is all we have to say right now!

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21st Century Community Learning Centers – 10 Things to About the ESEA Waiver

The Federal government has accepted the proposed “waiver” from the NYS Education Department, regarding use of 21st Century Community Learning Center funds. This waiver will directly impact the 21st CCLC RFP, which is expected to be released very soon. Unfortunately, the waiver is really long – 171 pages. Here is a top 10, from

Thanks to a certain on-the-ball district administrator for sharing this with us!

10 Things to Know about the ESEA Waiver – from

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Candace and Maeve have been discussing starting a blog for a while, so here it goes!  We started the facebook page a few weeks ago, and hope to stimulate ongoing discussions about organizational capacity building. Our intention is to move this blog to our current (somewhat out of date…) website soon.

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Organizational Capacity WHAT?

Welcome to the Organizational Capacity Building blog! We will be launching this blog in Spring 2012 – so check back soon.

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