While traveling to sites all over the country that are working to build the civic infrastructure necessary to addresses communities’ biggest problems and challenges, we hear about the concerns and issues with effectively engaging a broad cross-section of the community. The recent paper, Transactions, Transformations and Translations: Metrics that Matter for Building, Scaling and Funding Social Movements, points us in the right direction. Authors Manuel Pastor, Jennifer Ito and Rachel Rosner outline many different strategies for community engagement. The authors note that for each community engagement strategy, there are transactional (tangible exchanges with the community) and transformational (invisible, change-creating relationships) aspects.
And then they went an important step further.
On pages 24 and 25 of this report, the authors present a clear synopsis of sample transactional and transformational metrics – each matched to a particular community engagement strategy –that show how we might begin to measure the impact that social movements can have to drive systems change. While many of these measures are still very difficult to collect, there is hope that if we, as a country, begin to understand both the importance of aligning community resources around student success, and the importance of measuring this relationship for the impact it has, then we can begin to understand how best to invest in these types of efforts so that we can improve outcomes for children.
In the end, the civic infrastructure will only last if the community as a whole embraces the new structure as a better way to serve children. Having metrics of success related to academic achievement and community involvement will be critical. The authors of this report are helping to move the conversation forward.