Vulnerable-Youth-Learning-Report-executive-summary - page 2

Innovative Processes
Be sure to plow the ground.
When initiating an innovative
process, take time early on to
build capacity and understanding
of social innovation, establish
a collective understanding of
parameters, develop common
definitions of key concepts, and
jointly articulate and/or refine the
hypothesis being explored.
Innovation requires
surrendering the expert
This process takes
time and an environment where
teams are confident that they will
not be reprimanded for making
Innovation is uncomfortable.
Build relationships of
trust where challenging
conversations are acceptable
and encouraged.
Innovation takes time. Creating
novel solutions can’t be done
quickly so allow flexible timelines.
Funding Innovation
The planner-agency relationship
is likely to be different.
opportunities for open dialogue
about issues and responsibilities,
role clarity will emerge with time
and as the work evolves.
Clear parameters are hard
to establish in advance of
the work.
Jointly defining
parameters with funded agencies
is likely to help strike the right
balance between providing
guidance and creating space for
Funders need to ask different
questions in the RFP process.
Agencies should be asked to
describe processes for learning
and design and to articulate
assumptions to be tested.
RFPs should avoid questions
about timelines, outcomes,
indicators and approaches.
These discourage curiosity and
innovative thinking.
Initiatives intended to support
social innovation may require
a longer-than-usual funding
Using information
from the initiatives and
developmental evaluation, UWCA
may want to consider longer-term
support for the programs funded
by this Learning Strategy.
Funding for innovation needs
to be described differently
to volunteer committees.
UWCA team needs to build
its understanding of social
innovation so that they can
communicate more appropriately
to their committees.
Developmental evaluation
requires relationships based
on good rapport and trust.
It is
important to spend time building
relationships, listening, spending
time on site and understanding
what is valued by the team and
agency. Try not to expect anything
more than relationship building
during the first six months.
Defining the role of the DE
can be difficult and often only
becomes apparent in practice.
The DE plays many roles –
facilitator, sounding
board, critical friend, diplomat,
note taker – and it’s difficult
to clarify this role in advance.
Understanding how to use a DE
effectively comes from working
together as the innovation
Over the course of three years (January 2012 – December 2014), United Way is supporting learning and innovation in
the area of natural and non-professional supports for vulnerable youth. Social innovation and a desire to move beyond
conventional approaches to youth work are the main drivers behind this effort. Funding and support is being provided
in four main areas:
Funding and developmental evaluation support to three community-based learning initiatives;
Supporting an inter-agency learning team;
Hosting annual learning events that bring together community partners to share and discuss emerging
practice and principles in the area of non-professional supports for vulnerable youth; and
Examining and growing UWCA practice in terms of funding innovation and building non-professional supports
for vulnerable youth.
The courage to fund innovation and learning
The opportunity to learn; to do things differently
Being challenged to think differently
The recognition that families matter
Having the right people
The following snapshots reflect our understanding at the early stages of this strategy. The ideas highlighted in the next
section may be revised or discarded as we continue to work together over the next two years.
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