Over the past 33 years, Leadership Springfield’s three programs have produced more than 1,000 alumni. While these graduates feel more connected and informed on local issues, they often ask themselves upon graduation, “Now what?” Until recently, there honestly hasn’t been a great answer for that question. Our graduates go out and make their own impact, which is more than significant, but it has always felt like there was the potential for more. How can the community leverage these trained leaders?
This is how Impact Springfield was born.
Impact Springfield is a new Leadership Springfield program designed to connect alumni with opportunities to leverage their own strengths, experience, and social capital to make meaningful change in our community. Area organizations are invited to submit an Impact Project application detailing what they need and how it will affect the community. We then ask our extensive alumni network to volunteer to work on a project once it is in the program.
We recently completed a pool of four pilot Impact Projects and the results are incredibly exciting. In just a few months, Leadership Springfield was able to offer just over $16,000 in professional services (at no cost) to four area organizations: Lost and Found, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, Drew Lewis Foundation, and Care to Learn. All four projects helped each organization accomplish something they would have had difficulty doing on their own. A summary of these projects are included below.
Lost & Found – Lost & Found is an organization that provides grief support for children and young adults who are grieving the death of a loved one. The organization wanted to find a way to better recognize their volunteers. A Leadership Springfield alumni team worked together to design and implement a recognition event for volunteers, which included awards, giving the organization a simple way to show appreciation for volunteers.
Watershed Committee of the Ozarks (WCO) – WCO works to protect the water quality in our area through research, education, and advocating. The organization struggled with the fact that many people in our area simply take water for granted. A Leadership Springfield team worked on an Impact Project to create a marketing campaign that highlighted the value of water quality in our community. This team leveraged their network and brought in a branding campaign expert from 417 Magazine who created a pro-bono campaign for WCO. This campaign greatly simplified and improved their ability to appeal to the community and change basic habits that greatly impact water quality.
Drew Lewis Foundation (DLF) – DLF won the Northwest Project grant from Community Foundation of the Ozarks after creating The Fairbanks community center. The Fairbanks has become a hub on the front line of combating poverty in Springfield. As DLF looks to expand this model to other Springfield neighborhoods, the organization needed guidance on how to take what had happened organically and replicate it systematically. A Leadership Springfield alumni team met with the organization and identified several needs to create systematic processes. The team also connected DLF with People Centric Consulting Group who provided pro-bono strategic planning for the organization. This resulted in a simple and clear model for scaling DLF.
Care to Learn – Care to Learn serves school districts across the state of Missouri by helping them meet the immediate health, hunger, and hygiene needs of their students. As the program has expanded outside of the Springfield area, they have found it increasingly difficult to recruit new school districts and new donors. A group of Leadership Springfield alumni worked with the leadership team at Care to Learn to create a targeted marketing strategy focused on recruiting new school districts and increasing donor participation. This plan will help Care to Learn align marketing tactics to more efficiently and effectively reach students.
As you can see, the Impact Springfield pilot has been incredibly successful in connecting our trained leaders with organizations that are working to make our community at better place. Be on the lookout for future Impact Projects. These are typically announced through alumni emails from Leadership Springfield. Typical projects will take three to six months to complete, with meetings being scheduled as needed. We are excited about the future of Leadership Springfield and how Impact Springfield is helping the community gain better and more direct access to our alumni network who continue to Connect, Develop, and Inspire!