The Challenges of Place, Capacity, and Systems Change: The Story of Yes we can!

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Key points:

  • Yes we can!, a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to improve educational and economic outcomes within the foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. Since 2002, Yes we can! has supported five core strategies designed to trigger the systems changes needed to reduce educational and economic inequities in Battle Creek.
  • Yes we can! has achieved some important wins to date; for example, more residents are involved, more neighborhoods have stronger neighborhood associations, and more organizations are engaging residents in their decision-making processes. However, the scale of wins remains small, and the targeted systemic changes have not yet emerged.
  • Some common CCI design elements featured in Yes we can! may have inadvertently bounded its success: a) community building efforts targeted small-scale places, restricting the scale and scope of wins; b) demands for current work competed with building capacities for future work; and c) local partners who were implementing their individual grants struggled to maintain a focus on the larger vision and collective work.

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Publication/Event Date:

2009


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