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  1. You Have to Pick a Side

    Jul 13, 2020

    As part of my continuing journey of allyship, I am reading Ibram X. Kendi's book How To Be An Antiracist. While Kendi's premise is so simple, what he asks us to do is, admittedly, difficult—because a "racist" is defined as "supporting a racist policy through actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea." That means an antiracist is "one who is supporting an antiracist policy through actions or expressing an antiracist idea."

  2. Allyship: Listening, Supporting, Acting

    Jun 29, 2020

    In my last blog post, I wrote that those of us who are White have an obligation to go on an intentional journey of allyship—no matter […]

  3. You Cannot Lead If You Don’t Understand Your White Privilege

    Jun 8, 2020

    About a week ago, I started listening to the Seeing White podcast and heard comedian D.L. Hughly say these words, "Trump is who we are." If […]

  4. Is This Our Guaranteed Income Moment?

    May 26, 2020

    What do Pope Francis, Richard Nixon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles Murray, and Andrew Yang all have in common? They have all advocated for some form […]

  5. 5 Disruptive Innovations for the Social Sector

    May 4, 2020

    I've been giving a lot of thought lately to something Rahm Emanuel, former Obama chief of staff, said about the 2008/09 financial meltdown: "Never allow a […]

  6. Respond→Recover→Reframe

    Apr 20, 2020

    The New York Times began a series last week titled The America We Need. It began with “The coronavirus pandemic may have reminded Americans that they’re […]

  7. In this Time of Crisis, Our Sector Shows It’s Essential

    Apr 6, 2020

    A little over a year ago, I wrote, “I cannot help but believe that nonprofits, philanthropy, and government can harness all our good work as a major force to help bridge this divisiveness and advance the country through the twenty-first century.” The outbreak of COVID-19 is beginning to show just how true a statement that is.

  8. We Must Replace Job with Basic Income as Our Sector’s Primary Measure

    Mar 20, 2020

    Crises reveal vulnerabilities in societies more than anything else. The outbreak of COVID-19 is already uncovering just how wrongheaded the United States has been about what […]

  9. Outcomes, Indicators, and Targets, Oh My!

    Mar 9, 2020

    In 2002, 30 percent of fourth-grade students in the United States were reading at or above proficiency levels. Seventeen years later, in 2019, that number had […]

  10. A Confederacy of Dysfunctions

    Feb 17, 2020

    A system rife with dysfunctions that prevent us from making the kind of population-level change and reduction in disparities we desperately want to achieve …

  11. Ok, Boomer!

    Jan 20, 2020

    In my blog post that closed out 2019, I revisited the question I posed in March when I first launched this Finding Common Purpose blog: To what end? The question is so central, so important, that it cannot be asked too much. I’m starting out my 2020 posts by posing it again…

  12. School is the Means: A Good Paying Job Should Be the End

    Dec 23, 2019

    To what end? That’s the question I posed back in March when I launched the blog Finding Common Purpose. Its a question I continue to pose […]

  13. Raising College Graduation Rates

    Dec 9, 2019

    For the past several posts, I’ve been exploring one particular span of the pathway to lifelong success: the transition from high school to college or some other post-secondary education/training and on the way to a good-paying job.

  14. Why Do So Many Low-Income College Students Drop Out?

    Nov 18, 2019

    My last post, Its the Academics Stupid!, introduced Patrick Rametti, Director of College Completion at Uncommon Schools – an organization that manages 54 nonprofit, charter public schools, kindergarten through high school…

  15. Its the Academics, Stupid! A Conversation with Patrick Rametti

    Nov 4, 2019

    Do you know that 38% of undergraduates are at public two-year colleges? That of the remaining 62%, three-fourths attend four-year public colleges and universities? Or that overall, only 11% of students from the lowest-income…

  16. Whiteness Opens Doors

    Oct 21, 2019

    When David Delmar Senties faces hurdles to get more companies on board as employers of Resilient Coders graduates, his whiteness allows him to jump over them. I ended my last blog post with a promise to tell you the details. David, who founded Boston-based Resilient Coders to train people of color for high-growth careers as software engineers and then connect them with jobs, describes himself as a little bit of an odd

  17. Do Classism and Racism Keep People from Being Hired?

    Oct 7, 2019

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the handoff problem between different points along the pathway to lifelong success, and in my most recent posts, I’ve focused on the transition from high school to some kind of post-secondary education or training that results in a good-paying job. To help ensure the success of a young person on the pathway, those three components of the pathway high school, further schooling or training, and

  18. Balancing Individual and Institutional Responsibility

    Sep 23, 2019

    What does it actually mean to have a social contract for the 21st century? That’s the question I found myself asking after speaking with Kevin Dowling. You met him in another recent post, although not by name. He and I first crossed paths at a Future of Work event at which I was a panelist, where he told me about his experience going from high school to culinary school but ended up dropping out with debt, depression,

  19. The Untapped Talent Pool

    Sep 9, 2019

    Some years back, Michael Scannell mentored, as part of the Year Up program, a bright young man he describes as someone you could tell had a tremendous amount of potential. He had been working at one of the big box stores and had a passion for computers and technology. When he completed Year Up, he was placed as an intern at a Boston law firm. I knew where he had come from. I learned about the challenges he faced

  20. Just Who Is this Economy Working For, Anyway?

    Aug 23, 2019

    I recently heard two stories I want to share. Each of them illustrates an aspect of how we, together as a society, are failing to ensure that people can get on and stay on a pathway to lifelong success. The first story was told to me by a young man who had been able to get accepted to a culinary arts program after high school. It was the beginning of a dream come true, and the program made clear promises that upon graduation

  21. Radically Resident-Driven

    Aug 12, 2019

    In several blog posts, I’ve been diving deeper into guaranteed income as a way to ensure people can meet their basic needs and get on and stay on a pathway to lifelong success.

  22. Government Benefits and Trust in People

    Jul 29, 2019

    How does a guaranteed income impact financial insecurity and volatility? To what degree will a guaranteed income impact drivers of inequity and social determinants of health?

  23. What Might $500 Do?

    Jul 15, 2019

    Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I’ve been calling for a new social contract, one that puts more people on a lifelong pathway to success, aimed at realizing…

  24. Just What Are Basic Needs in the 21st Century?

    Jul 1, 2019

    The adjective basic describes something that forms an essential foundation; the noun need refers to something required. From this, we can cobble together a dictionary definition of basic needs…

  25. Is a Universal Basic Income a Key Ingredient?

    Jun 17, 2019

    When I ponder the to-what-end question that has motivated so much of what I’ve written since launching this blog a few months back, and particularly when I’m working on one of the many projects

  26. I don’t subscribe to the notion that these two things are tradeoffs.

    Jun 3, 2019

    Which would you want for your own child: a backpack or reading proficiency? I posed that question as part of a three-post series a few weeks back; taken together, parts 1, 2, and 3 encapsulate

  27. If We Can Imagine It, We Can Build It

    May 20, 2019

    In last week’s blog post, I wrote about the discussion I had with Susannah Morgan, the CEO at Oregon Food Bank. I shared her fundamental mindset shift in how she approaches her work, from doing for

  28. Not Doing For, But Doing With

    May 13, 2019

    Recently, I had a discussion with Susannah Morgan, the CEO at Oregon Food Bank. Susannah’s in her twenty-third year in and around food banking, twenty of which have been in leadership roles.

  29. Are We Just More Comfortable at 30,000 Feet?

    May 6, 2019

    Its a rather typical activity nonprofits and foundations do from time to time: hold a one-day strategic planning retreat to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and set some goals.

  30. Data: To What End?

    Apr 29, 2019

    In early March, Fast Company published an article that describes how three U.S. cities have essentially ended all chronic homelessness, and another nine have ended veteran homelessness.

  31. The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of It’s Parts

    Apr 22, 2019

    In launching this new blog in March, I defined my starting point as a firm belief that what we have all been building over the past decadesbe it through nonprofits, philanthropy, schools, or government

  32. Working within the System

    Apr 15, 2019

    As the work of a nonprofit or government program shows more and more promise, and whatever specific thing that the organization does to serve people measures up well, its often the case that the issue of scale is raised.

  33. To What End? Part 3

    Apr 8, 2019

    Are we making enough of a difference? Are we making the right kind of difference? When those of us working to improve peoples livesbe it through nonprofits, philanthropy, schools, or government

  34. To What End? Part 2

    Apr 1, 2019

    This is the second post in a three-part series on the critical questions that have been informing all my thinking about the worknonprofits, philanthropy, and government do

  35. To What End? Part 1

    Mar 25, 2019

    For the past year, Ive been asking people from all walks of life what success looks like. Ive done this because, from my vantage point, it seems reaching just a basic level of success is becoming more

  36. Are We Making the Right Kind of Difference?

    Mar 18, 2019

    In my last blog post, I described how I have begun to ask myself whether the work we do is actually making enough of a difference to realize population-level change. For me and for our work at Root Cause,

  37. Are We Making Enough of a Difference?

    Mar 11, 2019

    Back in 2011, Root Cause the organization I founded, began a major project with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). If you’re not familiar, CBMA is the only national membership network solely committed…

Past Blogs

You Have to Pick a Side

As part of my continuing journey of allyship, I am reading Ibram X. Kendi's book How To Be An Antiracist. While Kendi's premise is so simple, what he asks us to do is, admittedly, difficult—because a "racist" is defined as "supporting a racist policy through actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea." That means an antiracist is "one who is supporting an antiracist policy through actions or expressing an antiracist idea."

Allyship: Listening, Supporting, Acting

In my last blog post, I wrote that those of us who are White have an obligation to go on an intentional journey of allyship—no matter […]

You Cannot Lead If You Don’t Understand Your White Privilege

About a week ago, I started listening to the Seeing White podcast and heard comedian D.L. Hughly say these words, "Trump is who we are." If […]