Inspiring New Ways of Thinking and Acting to End Hunger

Posted April 18, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog newwaysofthinkingandacting 2017

Feed­ing Amer­i­ca, a nation­wide net­work of food banks, has launched a major mul­ti­year ini­tia­tive to address the root caus­es of hunger.

The ini­tia­tive, called Col­lab­o­rat­ing for Clients (C4C), push­es Feed­ing Amer­i­ca beyond its core com­fort zone — food dis­tri­b­u­tion ser­vice — by bring­ing non­prof­its togeth­er to address food inse­cu­ri­ty and help fam­i­lies find afford­able hous­ing, job train­ing, steady employ­ment and health care ser­vices. Feed­ing Amer­i­ca has launched the ini­tia­tive with five pilot sites focused on lever­ag­ing food dis­tri­b­u­tion ser­vices and build­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive part­ner­ships that can help improve the lives of low-income fam­i­lies and communities.

This ground­break­ing work — and expand­ed net­work focus — calls for new lead­er­ship skills and strate­gies, which is why Feed­ing Amer­i­ca has turned to the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion to pro­vide train­ing in results-based lead­er­ship (RBL).

Aware of Casey’s RBL work with the Striv­e­To­geth­er nation­al net­work and the fed­er­al­ly fund­ed Promise Neigh­bor­hoods, Feed­ing Amer­i­ca asked the Foun­da­tion to help devel­op its FEED Lead­er­ship Pro­gram (Fuel, Engage, Empow­er, Dri­ve Lead­er­ship for Com­mu­ni­ty Change).

The lead­ers in the Feed­ing Amer­i­ca net­work are great at tech­ni­cal solu­tions that are real­ly effi­cient,” Jes­si­ca Jelin­s­ki, man­ag­ing direc­tor of nation­al pro­grams at Feed­ing Amer­i­ca. We real­ized that C4C is such a dif­fer­ent way of work­ing for our net­work that we’ve got to pro­vide not just tech­ni­cal train­ing but real­ly pro­vide sup­port to the food banks so that they can begin to think differently.”

In Sep­tem­ber 2016, Casey staff and the Foundation’s RBL fac­ul­ty began work­ing with the initiative’s five pilot sites to help them artic­u­late spe­cif­ic pop­u­la­tion-lev­el results and estab­lish sys­tems and mech­a­nisms for achiev­ing them. The site teams include lead­ers from the food banks as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the health, faith, gov­ern­ment, phil­an­thropy and non­prof­it sec­tors in their com­mu­ni­ties. A work in progress, the FEED Lead­er­ship Pro­gram is mid­way through a series of sev­en two-day sem­i­nars and site vis­its focused on help­ing C4C lead­ers apply the core com­pe­ten­cies and prin­ci­ples of RBL.

Through dis­cus­sions, exer­cis­es, teach­ing and prac­tice, the Foun­da­tion has been help­ing these sites: 

  • devel­op and exe­cute an action plan with clear­ly iden­ti­fied strategies;
  • address adap­tive and tech­ni­cal lead­er­ship chal­lenges that arise when man­ag­ing com­pet­ing inter­ests among diverse, cross-sec­tor partners;
  • build the capac­i­ty of lead­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers to use data for con­tin­u­ous improve­ment of action plan strategies;
  • make mid-course cor­rec­tions as the land­scape shifts and new pri­or­i­ties emerge; and 
  • build the orga­ni­za­tion­al and com­mu­ni­ty capac­i­ty need­ed for sus­tain­ing results work over the long term.

Work­ing with a diverse group of stake­hold­ers, the sites are see­ing the inter­con­nec­tion of their own work to oth­er results areas and fig­ur­ing out how they can con­tribute to results that might not be their pri­ma­ry work focus,” says Casey Senior Asso­ciate Jen­nifer Gross.

Per­haps most impor­tant­ly, the FEED Lead­er­ship Pro­gram seeks to moti­vate the sites to move from plan­ning to action. It’s been real­ly amaz­ing,” says Jelin­s­ki. Because of our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the FEED pro­gram, and its bias to action, we’ve real­ly seen a clear shift in the think­ing of the pilot sites and their com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, as well as at the Feed­ing Amer­i­ca nation­al office.”

Learn more about results-based leadership

Learn more about Feed­ing America’s Col­lab­o­rat­ing for Clients initiative

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