For over half a century, Search Institute has excelled at conducting and disseminating its research, and at celebrating the creative ways that many organizations and communities have applied it. Today, however, schools and youth programs are increasingly being held accountable for achieving outcomes that are beyond the means of any single organization to attain. Many of those organizations are eager for assistance in reaching those goals. In response, Search Institute is enhancing its capacity not just to conduct and disseminate its research, but to help organizations and coalitions use local research findings to plan, implement, and monitor meaningful change and improvement strategies.
This shift has led to the creation of a new technical assistance process through which Search Institute facilitators help community coalitions come together across organizational, cultural, socioeconomic, and other divides to develop and launch a common and coherent strategy for educational improvement and youth development. This new process combines aspects of the quality improvement processes, adaptive approaches to change from leadership studies and complexity theory, and the newer concept of networked improvement communities. In such improvement communities, diverse actors constantly experiment with new solutions to common problems and share their findings across the network to promote further learning and improvement.
The CHANGE Process
Search Institute’s new effort to help coalitions of youth-serving organizations implement these strategies is called the CHANGE process. It has six stages, each one of which is captured by a letter in the name of the process. Each stage is anchored by a day-long workshop that is held in the community and is facilitated by a member of the Search Institute team. One round of the complete cycle will generally take a year to complete, though the timeline can be shortened or extended depending upon the needs of the participating community.
At the conclusion of the CHANGE process, the community’s guiding coalition will possess the relationships, the vision, the data, and the ways of working together that will enable it to lead the initiative beyond the term of technical assistance from Search Institute.
Convene Your Team and Create Your Vision: During this initial phase, key community stakeholders are identified and are brought together to build relationships, share perspectives and articulate a common vision.
Hear Young People’s Voices & Experiences: The ideas and opinions of young people are captured through surveys, focus groups, and other means. The findings are analyzed and synthesized and reported back to the community to promote dialog and to lay the groundwork for positive change.
Analyze, Integrate, and Interpret Data: Data that were collected from young people during the second stage are then considered alongside relevant data about young people, such as program participation rates, mobility rates, achievement scores and graduation rates. Based upon these analyses, the critical needs of the community are discussed and agreed upon.
Name Strategies for Engagement and Impact: A limited number of improvement initiatives are selected to address the critical needs of the community by marshaling community resources and building on community strengths.
Get Going: Shortly after initiatives are launched, at least one significant “early win” is identified and celebrated to encourage the sense that progress is possible.
Evaluate and Share Progress: The community adopts an approach to continuous improvement and collects data to evaluate progress to date. Practices that appear effective are studied and shared across a continually expanding network of participating individuals and organizations.
Contact us for a free consultation, to learn how the CHANGE process can help your organization.