Community Conversations for Muncie COMMUNITY Schools
United Way realized we needed to be much more strategic with our work and specifically with our community investments (grant-making). So, we took advantage of learning from the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation how to: turn outward, work with intentionality, and use community knowledge and community will to drive our work. Harwood recommends holding Community Conversations—which we call Listen and Learn sessions where we listen to and learn from all walks of life about their aspirations for the community.
The basic road map of a conversation is:
What do you hope for ________(the community, a program, an initiative)?
Why don’t we have those things yet?
What can we do to work together?
How can we overcome those obstacles and get to this ideal?
It’s meant to be a kitchen table conversation. There are no right or wrong answers—this is based on what people know to be true from their personal experiences. At each session, we have a facilitator guide the conversation and we have a note-taker (or two) capture what is heard. It’s done anonymously—so we’re not noting who says what.
After a few sessions, we theme out the conversations and identify those themes that keep recurring and clamoring to the top of people’s hopes, challenges, and ideas. These recurring themes are our Public Knowledge—the areas we want to pay particular attention to as we look for solutions, answers and/or develop a plan. Then, we pair the Public Knowledge captured with expert knowledge and data, to find where we can make the most strategic investment of resources to change community conditions.
Hopes for Muncie Community Schools
UWDHC is partnering with Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools to listen to our community’s hopes and dreams for our public school system. We are working hard to ensure we listen to and learn from as many parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators, and concerned community members as possible. We want a representational cross-section of our community to share their hopes and ideas for Muncie Community Schools.
We are working to meet people where they are. Currently, we are scheduling private listening sessions with churches, childcare providers and community partners as well as public sessions at libraries, schools and community centers. To entice greater family engagement, thanks to a Rapid Grant from Ball Brothers Foundation, we are offering free dinner and childcare for many of the sessions.
We want to better understand your hopes for our community’s school, what challenges you see the schools facing, and how you think Muncie can overcome those challenges and get to our ideal school system. Recurring themes from the sessions will be valuable to Muncie Community Schools and Ball State University as they partner to draft a plan for the school system.
Please note, while we value all input, we cannot promise that any new initiatives, programs or action items will emerge from every conversation.