The Inclusive Economy
Platforms for Prosperity Fellows Wind Down Year-Long Fellowship with Learning Visit in DC
By Megan Bolado on 08/04/2016 @ 01:00 PM
Two weeks ago, the six inaugural Platforms for Prosperity Integration Fellows gathered in Washington, DC, for the final Learning Visit of their 10-month engagement with CFED. The Fellowship, generously supported by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, aims to uncover lessons and promising practices with regards to integrating financial capability services into existing organizations or programs focused on delivering workforce development services. When the Fellows—each senior leaders at their respective organizations—convened last month, they shared updates with one another about the progress of their integration efforts. They also provided thoughtful feedback about what works for integrating financial capability into workforce development programs, strategized about future directions for their work, and engaged senior leaders from the D.C. area on issues related to change management.
As we reported in December, we undertook this unique program to engage a small, focused peer group of individuals to lead integration efforts at their organizations. The Fellowship targeted senior leaders, specifically, to determine how best to engage those who are in a position to affect and lead change in their organizations and in their communities. Additionally, we hoped to affirm and enhance existing evidence that integrating financial capability services into a workforce development program is a viable pathway to scaling financial capability. The convening in Washington helped us reflect on these and other goals of the Fellowship over the past nine months, and it helped us unearth other important themes and outcomes that will shape our approach to financial capability integration in the future.
As the Fellowship evolved, and the Fellows dove into integration efforts with their staff and clients, we gleaned a great deal about what it means for senior leaders within an organization to become deeply engaged in financial capability integration. For starters, we found that the number of partners in a fellowship cohort and the similarities in their roles at their respective organizations is essential for sustaining for robust peer learning. Moreover, because the Fellows are in positions that allow them to think strategically from a “30,000-foot view,” they were ready to approach integration with longer-term sustainability and impact in mind. By managing an integration project alongside organizational change, these leaders were able to achieve more—and with more longevity—than if they had been thinking about project management and organizational change separately.
As similar as the participants and their organizations seemed at the onset of the Fellowship, we also found evidence that every integration project faces different challenges and can leverage different opportunities. Even though all six Fellows were integrating financial capability services into workforce development programs, and even though we know that this is a proven strategy for scaling financial capability, the unique contexts facing each organization reminded us that integration strategies and methods need to be tailored to the unique communities being served. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all method to meeting people where they are to help improve their financial well-being.
The Platforms for Prosperity Integration Fellowship will officially wrap up in September, but the incredible work these organizations and their leaders are doing will no doubt continue. Stay tuned!