CHICAGO, IL — The ImpactTulsa team traveled to Chicago, Illinois to attend the StriveTogether National Convening, ‘What Unites Us.’ As part of the Cradle to Career (C2C) national network, organizations across the country gathered to share their work, partner together, and align with the mission to ensure every child grows up in an equitable world. The three-day conference offered plenary sessions with highly influential speakers, learning sessions, and spaces for networking.
Three of our team members share their reflections, key takeaways, and commitments to apply their learnings to the work at ImpactTulsa.
Ashley Philippsen, Deputy Director:
“A message that has stuck with me coming out of the convening is that incremental change is not enough—we must work across institutions, organizations, and communities to achieve sustainable change within and across systems. How is our work supporting policies, practices, resources, relationships, and shifting mental models of how people interact with systems and each other? There were so many tangible examples from across the network that sparked my thinking about what is possible in Tulsa. Another takeaway makes me remix a quote from the great poet Andre Benjamin: ‘The youth have something to say.’ Young people and their families can’t be talked about and not be included. We spend considerable time thinking about improvement. Youth as designers must be a bare minimum for all of us in this work. More generally, any issue we are working to address from cradle to career should create space for youth voice—their insights, their lived experiences, and their ideas.”
Lauren King, Director of Training and Evaluation:
“Access to folks across the country who are working to uphold equity within education allows us to activate the wisdom of a whole network that we can then integrate into our local work alongside the Tulsa community. One of the most moving points for me came from a discussion between Dr. Robert P. George and Dr. Cornel West. They left me reflecting on the notion that systems change work is both internal and external. While we often focus on policies and practices that others need to change to disrupt inequities, it’s equally important that we focus on what needs to change within ourselves. Doing this means building deep and trusting relationships with folks so that we can gain new perspectives and awareness that allow us to unlearn misconceptions and harmful ways of being. As we plan for 2023, I aim to embed that truth into my own development as well as into the foundation of the programs we continue to offer to partners.”
BerThaddaeus Bailey, Director of My Brother’s Keeper-Tulsa:
“The 2022 C2C StriveTogether Convening galvanized communities from across the country focused on improving outcomes from cradle to career for underserved communities. Tulsa shared some of our successes and learnings from our local community while hearing from other cities who are also engaged in collective impact and systems change work. We celebrated the value-add backbone organizations have achieved in concert with the organizations it supports such as data, research and analysis for effective implementation of programs; elevating the stories of community members to decision makers; financial support such as grant and sub grant opportunities and much more. However, one of the most impactful moments came from our focus on community and youth at the center from organizations like Baltimore Promise. Tulsa will seek to adopt some practices used in other Strive communities that center power with parents and youth to ensure that grant opportunities are reflective of the needs and desires of the communities it serves.”
With the return to in-person attendance, the 2022 StriveTogether convening was a powerful platform of collaboration for its national network of collective impact organizations. The ImpactTulsa team benefited greatly from the resources, network, and perspectives shared, and will continuously apply the theory of action framework in the Tulsa community.