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Facilitation Impact Awards

We believe that our work makes a difference. And we are delighted when our clients and our peer professionals agree with us!

The RCA facilitation team is honored to have received four Facilitation Impact Awards from the International Association of Facilitators since the awards were founded a few years ago. These awards, presented both to us and to our clients, are testament to groups that take on tough issues and are willing to work together to make a difference, to make an impact. We are invited to design and facilitate the process in which groups come together, but we rely on the group being willing to come together in the first place and to do the work!

 

2021  – S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation (Platinum)

The Education Program of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (the foundation closed in December 2020 after spending down its endowment) focused on helping young people develop the knowledge, skills and character to explore and understand the world around them, growing into caring, informed, and productive adults. When the foundation decided in 2008 to spend down its entire endowment, the field of youth character development was identified as a critical area, ripe for bold investments to strengthen individual organizations and the broader field.

The foundation invested $130 million through large, multi-year grants in 20 national organizations and the California after-school system to improve and sustain at scale the character development practices of adult staff and volunteers. The direct-service organizations involved collectively reach over half of youth ages five to 18 years old in the United States.

While the organizations had much in common, they also differed in their size, geographic scope, and specific content expertise and generally viewed one another as competitors. The challenge was to support these organizations to become partners and allies, learning from one another and working together to strengthen the broader field of positive youth development. However, achieving impact at the level of the portfolio and the broader field would require addressing barriers of mistrust and competition and fostering trusting peer relationships to enable collaboration and partnership.

Participants came together for an initial facilitated Grantee Convening in 2016, allowing them to see they shared a vision for positive youth development and a mutual commitment to learning and impact at scale. They also faced many common challenges around which they could learn from one another.

The National Character Initiative Community Convening came into being as participants requesting more facilitated convenings of this nature. Participants were grouped into five role-based Communities of Practice (CoP) with a total of 56 facilitated meetings taking place between July 2016 and December 2020. With each grantee organization represented by the same core participants, a consistent core group of 90 participants connected and worked together over 4.5 years.

The initial convenings were focused on building trusting relationships and creating value for participants. Later convenings gave increasing attention to external, field-building opportunities, learning about diversity, equity and inclusion, and adjusting to urgent and unprecedented demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Results and Impact

An independent retrospective study conducted by external evaluators validated the positive impact of the facilitated convenings and identified quantitative and qualitative impacts. 100% of the organizations participating in the National Character Initiative Community Convening (the foundation’s team as well as the grantee organizations) have been positively impacted by the program.

Impacts that are a direct result of the convenings include:

Foster a culture of peer learning

  • The initiative fostered such a powerful culture of peer learning that grantees continued to meet voluntarily after foundation funding ended.
  • Four of the five Communities of Practice (CoPs) have continued to self-convene into 2021, learning together as they reopen for in-person youth development programming.

Enable collaboration

  • The Policy CoP continues to meet, sharing resources and exploring opportunities for collective action. They speak as a unified voice to influence federal funding for youth development programs.
  • Grantees in California’s after-school field aligned their grant-funded work under one common brand, the 360/365 Collaborative, unifying through a common framework for social-emotional learning.
  • The Program CoP formed an equity task force that redesigned their respective programs to embed equity, develop equity statements, and conduct equity workshops.
  • The Evaluation CoP developed common measures and instruments for use in program evaluation.

Catalyse partnerships

  • One grantee now provides high quality SEL-oriented youth sports coaching services to the staff of more than 1,000 affiliates of another grantee.
  • Grantees collaborated on a national communications project to promote social and emotional learning and positive youth development.

The impact of the initiative was also featured in a peer review article in The Foundation Review titled, “How to Encourage Sustainable Change: A Reflection on How Philanthropy Can Partner With Grantees to Build Organizational Capacity”.

 

2021 – Sandoz Biopharma GMAA team (Silver)

Sandoz is a global leader in generic and biosimilar drugs and has a leading biosimilar pipeline and portfolio in immunology, endocrinology and oncology. A new leader was appointed to lead the GMAA team at the beginning of 2020, and he set as a top priority the creation of a strong, collaborative team culture. Specifically, he wanted to address areas that had been identified through quarterly team climate surveys.

Sally Colella, the leader of Colella and Associates, was engaged to work with the team. She invited Christiane Frischmuth and Michael Randel to join her in the work, which began in June 2020. It became clear that leadership turnover in recent years had resulted in a lack of clarity about the team’s purpose, competitive advantage and working approach.

We designed and facilitated a series of four online workshops attended by all 25 GMAA team members, spread across the fall of 2020. Business conversations were interspersed with activities designed to get to know each other. Some team members, including the new leader, had not yet met face-to-face due to COVID restrictions.

During 2021 we conducted a customized pulse survey to measure progress and prioritize next steps. We facilitated a conversation about the survey results with the team, where we discussed their responses and agreed on focus areas for continued improvement in 2021.

The impact of the work is clearly visible in the results from the company-administered survey conducted in May 2021. The GMAA team’s overall engagement score jumped from 69% favorable in May 2020 to 85% favorable in May 2021. This jump of 16 points has taken the team from one of the lowest to one of the highest performing teams across Sandoz, based on engagement survey results.

Substantial gains have been measured in experiencing a sense of belonging, empowerment and purpose – all of which are 80% or more favorable in May 2021 survey results.

GMAA team members’ written responses to a pulse survey administered by our team in April 2021 and comments made during feedback sessions in May 2021 reflect the following:

  • A clearer sense of purpose.
  • Increased capacity to deliver on competitive advantage three anchors of (1) strategic guidance, (2) brand knowledge and (3) partnership.
  • A team environment where working agreements are upheld and team members freely give and receive support from their colleagues and the management team.

The work of Colella and Associates with the GMAA team continues as we support them in sustaining these developments and extending it to their work with their internal partners across the company.

 

 

2015 – American Alliance of Museums (Gold)

We had the privilege of working with AAM on a number of occasions over several years as the organization went through a leadership transition and engaged in a significant strategic re-positioning of itself under the new executive director. One of our projects with them was presented with the Gold Facilitation Impact Award – the convening of the State Museum Associations.

With the “Museums United” initiative, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) convened 100 leaders of the state museum associations from across the United States. The 3-day convening was characterized by high levels of engagement and interaction as participants shared information about their work. More importantly, the participants explored and developed a shared model of the characteristics of a successful, sustainable state museum association. This model, along with insights about the barriers that make it hard to be successful and sustainable, is now being used to strengthen the state museum associations in 47 states and territories across the United States. The beneficiaries of the enhanced services provided by the state museum associations are the staff, boards and volunteers of the 30,000 museums in the country, along with the millions of domestic and international visitors to these museums.

Key results achieved include:

  • Shared model of the characteristics of a successful, sustainable state museum association
  • Strengthened network of peer support, alliances and trusting relationships among the leaders of the state museum associations and the convening national association
  • Award of a $500,000 grant by the federal government to support the second phase of “Museums United”
  • Building relationships and institutional capacity leading to the launch of a new body to support the state associations – the Coalition of State Museum Associations (COSMA).

A copy of the final report from the convening is available to be downloaded AAM (2014) Museums United_final report

 

 

2013 – Montessori Leaders Collaborative (Gold)

Beginning in 2011, we worked with leaders from Montessori associations and organizations across the United States. This was historic work as there was a long history of mistrust and division. Through our work with these leaders, they established a regular practice of meeting together, they formalized their working relationship as the Montessori Leaders Collaborative, and they supported a series of collaborative initiatives that brought millions of dollars of new resources to their field.

While we received an award for our work with the MLC in 2013, we facilitated their convenings several times a year from 2011 to 2018.

Some of the early impact of this work was described in an independent evaluation, and included:

  • Creating a safe space in which the MLC could arise, from a very tentative first meeting to a productive ongoing community.
  • With skilled facilitation and guidance, the MLC defined a series of long-term strategic program goals to bring a collective vision to fruition in areas such as Research, Early Childhood Education, Communications and Advocacy, and Teacher Training
  • The MLC entered into a formal collaborative agreement in July 2013 that set out the terms of engagement for how the group was going to strive for achieving its collective vision of “re-imagining education to meet the needs of our children through the implementation of high-quality Montessori.”
  • Montessori attracted increased interest from funders as a quality education model.
  • Building a cohesive collaborative of Montessori leaders, supported by a separate collaborative of funders, resulted in a significant return on a relatively modest investment.

 

 

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