Finding Common Purpose

Jul 13, 2020

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."
Jun 8, 2020

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 […]
May 26, 2020

Is This Our Guaranteed Income Moment?

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 […]
May 4, 2020

5 Disruptive Innovations for the Social Sector

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 […]
Apr 20, 2020

Respond→Recover→Reframe

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 […]
Apr 6, 2020

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

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.
Dec 9, 2019

Raising College Graduation Rates

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.
Nov 18, 2019

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

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...
Nov 4, 2019

Its the Academics, Stupid! A Conversation with Patrick Rametti

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...
Oct 21, 2019

Whiteness Opens Doors

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
Oct 7, 2019

Do Classism and Racism Keep People from Being Hired?

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
Sep 23, 2019

Balancing Individual and Institutional Responsibility

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,
Sep 9, 2019

The Untapped Talent Pool

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
Aug 23, 2019

Just Who Is this Economy Working For, Anyway?

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
Aug 12, 2019

Radically Resident-Driven

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.
Jul 29, 2019

Government Benefits and Trust in People

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?
Jul 15, 2019

What Might $500 Do?

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...
Jul 1, 2019

Just What Are Basic Needs in the 21st Century?

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...
Jun 17, 2019

Is a Universal Basic Income a Key Ingredient?

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
Jun 3, 2019

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

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
May 20, 2019

If We Can Imagine It, We Can Build It

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
May 13, 2019

Not Doing For, But Doing With

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.
May 6, 2019

Are We Just More Comfortable at 30,000 Feet?

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.
Apr 29, 2019

Data: To What End?

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.
Apr 22, 2019

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

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
Apr 15, 2019

Working within the System

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.
Apr 8, 2019

To What End? Part 3

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
Apr 1, 2019

To What End? Part 2

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
Mar 25, 2019

To What End? Part 1

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
Mar 18, 2019

Are We Making the Right Kind of Difference?

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,
Mar 11, 2019

Are We Making Enough of a Difference?

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...