Hear from the Davis Foundation’s Sally Fuller, the initiative’s funder, on how Lectio helped propel Springfield’s (MA) community effort to boost children’s literacy skills.
What challenges were you facing within your organization’s work and the overall Springfield literacy campaign prior to the Lectio partnership?
For seven years, Springfield has been engaged in a community-wide campaign to promote reading success by 4th grade for all students. Our effort includes over 50 individuals from 23 community-based organizations, as well as the public school’s prek-3 literacy team. Going into our work with Lectio, we knew that we had a lot of programming going on across our city, and we were struggling to find ways to make sure all these programs added up to a meaningful impact on children’s healthy development and reading proficiency.
What about the Lectio approach resonated with you, and specifically applied to your community’s work?
We wanted to pull together Springfield’s philanthropic, school district, and nonprofit provider community – groups that were committed to and providing programs for children – and find a way to make all these programs add up to reading improvement. Lectio helped us evaluate programs in terms of design, effectiveness, and potential for real change. In truth, what we have been going through is actually not a natural process—we would normally look at all these programs to support reading and say, “Isn’t this great!,” and, “Look at all that we are doing with, and for, our children and families.” But the Lectio approach has helped us to be much more critical, and analyze our programs so that they lead to the goal, resource management, and outcomes we are looking for.
I think that the kind of strategic thinking that defines the Lectio approach is especially important for funders; they are not interested in providing funds for programs forever, and without clear links to impact. Lectio has provided us with a process to understand how to invest strategically and to analyze our portfolio of programs to see how exactly our dollars will (or will not) lead to our intended plan for change.
What kind of changes have you experienced since you and your community partners engaged in the Lectio work?
With the Lectio approach, we have a renewed commitment to the shared vision of grade level reading proficiency for all Springfield children. We are hearing and witnessing how our community leaders are thinking differently about their work, and especially with more precision, and that is very powerful for all of us. They now have a better idea of what exact impact on children and families they are making; each program has its own goal that contributes to the larger plan for improved literacy outcomes for Springfield’s children. For sure, Lectio is one of the best investments we have made throughout our 7-year campaign.