+Acumen

Toronto HCD Event_MakeWorks

Beyond Learning: Building a Community of Practice with +Acumen Courses

This blog post was written with help from Danial Malik, a volunteer course ambassador with Toronto+Acumen and Anna Rickman, a volunteer course ambassador with London+Acumen.

Registration is now open for Making Sense of Social Impact: Acumen’s Building Blocks for Impact Analysis and Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change.

We started +Acumen courses with a vision to share Acumen’s leadership curriculum with more people around the world to equip them with the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. At first, we didn’t exactly know what that meant but it’s become clearer to us that in order to do this we need to build communities of practitioners tackling poverty in new and innovative ways where people inspire and provide support for one another, and share their knowledge and experience.

Our volunteer course ambassadors, committed to helping us get the word out and building community around our courses are at the forefront of experimenting with what this might look like. Below are examples of how two course ambassadors are building communities of practice in their cities.

Danial Malik, a course ambassador in Toronto, shares the first steps he’s taken to create a community of practice around Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation, a 7-week course developed with IDEO.org which teaches participants how to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change by emphasizing learning by doing, prototyping quickly, and evolving solutions based on real-time feedback.

Danial’s goal was to create a pre-course event that built relationships between course participants and networks of relevant local partners. To do this, Danial and the Toronto+Acumen team collaborated with MakeWorks and MakeLab and speakers who gave a hands-on demonstration of how 3D printers can be used to quickly prototype new ideas.

The speakers included Jonathan Moneta of MakeLab, who gave a passionate introduction to the 3D printing community in Toronto and its potential to disrupt manufacturing as we know it. After, Jonathan encouraged participants to utilize free tools, such as Thingiverse and My Mini Factory, and the Makeworks space during the course to get tangible quickly and bring their ideas to life.

Toronto HCD Event_MakeWorks

Danial tells us that connecting course participants to a physical space is an example of what is needed to build a community of practice. “It’s empowering to know that there are places where you can turn an idea into a tangible prototype. Events like this help people make the connection that they’re just at the start of something much bigger.”

Danial says, going forward, “We want to make our meet-ups more than just people getting together to form a group to take the course but something that provides value beyond the course. The specifics look different depending on the course but across courses the groups come in separately but share a common thread and it’s in that overlap that we want to connect.”

Across the pond, Anna Rickman, a course ambassador in London  hosted a pre-course event featuring Sean Hewens, the Amplify Program Director at IDEO.org and lead architect of +Acumen’s human-centered design curriculum. Sean spoke about examples of social enterprises using human-centered design in the field and the potential for groups to start their own enterprises off the back of the course.

Anna said, “Hosting speakers with first-hand experience with course topics is part of a wider strategy to encourage people to view +Acumen courses as a practical tool and springboard for applying what they learn in their work right away.”

Like Danial, the second part of Anna’s strategy is to develop long-term relationships with physical spaces. In this vein, Anna secured a partnership with HUB Islington where every Thursday from 6-9pm the space is open for the +Acumen course community.

In all our courses, we encourage people to sign-up with a group and work through the course together. “This solves the problem of finding a creative, convenient and affordable venue for course groups to use each week, fosters community, and encourages collaboration and learning between groups.” In return, Anna and the London+Acumen team are facilitating human-centered design workshops for the Hub Youth Academy program, a training program for aspiring social entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 25.Anna1

“This partnership shows the power of the +Acumen courses and wider +Acumen community. It has the potential to create new generations of teachers, students and practitioners in social enterprise within our chapter, the +Acumen community, and the wider social enterprise network in London. As the London+Acumen course ambassador, scaling the impact of the online courses this year is all about developing local partnerships. I hope to capitalize on the knowledge, skills, resources, passion and drive of everyone active in social enterprise in London, increasing the value and outcomes of all of our efforts, and maximizing our collective impact.”

For more information on becoming a +Acumen course ambassador in your area please visit http://plusacumen.org/become-ambassador/, or connect with your local chapter.

 

 

Comments

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]

10 Books We’re Reading This Summer

What are you reading? It is a common question here at Acumen, an organization full of avid readers constantly trading favorite book titles that discuss leadership, impact, development and branding. Here are 10 stellar books we’re reading this summer. These books and others provide a framework of thinking, a spark of new ideas, a platform for debate. So, what are you reading? [Read More]

How Acumen Brought Back my Fire

Eda is an East Africa Regional Fellow from Nairobi, Kenya and is the Founder and Director of Halisi Trust, an organization that seeks to challenge the vices that plague society and encourage transformational development in Kenya’s youth. When Eda applied for the East Africa Fellows Program, she felt disillusioned and stuck. Below, Eda discusses how Acumen’s Regional Fellowship Program brought back her fire. Now, Eda has engaged nearly 6,000 people through outreach events and the Mkenya Halisi movement continues to grow. Acumen is currently accepting applications for the next class of East Africa Fellows. APPLY TODAY! [Read More]

Imagining the world as it could be

Christine Gitau is an East Africa Fellow and an enterprise coach at Craft Afrika, which provides business support services to craft entrepreneurs, enabling them build viable and thriving businesses in Kenya. At Acumen we often use the term “Moral Imagination” when talking about leadership. Christine wrote a reflection on how this concept has shifted her thinking. We could not be more proud of what she is building! [Read More]

How two Acumen Fellows are disrupting the education model in India

Whether its running youth soccer programs, providing vocational training services, or transforming the education system in India, Acumen India Fellows are driving real change in their communities.  Abbas Dadla and Abhilasha Sinha are India Fellows who are addressing the teacher shortage in India through the use of technology and peer collaboration. Find out what they are building below.  If you have grit, resilience and a commitment to creating change in your community in India, East Africa or Pakistan, we encourage you to apply for the Regional Fellowship Program! [Read More]

Meet Manjushree Patil, Founder of Aatman Academy

This month saw violent tragedies in Pakistan and Kenya, regions where Acumen works and which five classes of Acumen regional fellows call home. Among them there are dedicated teachers like Acumen India Fellow Manjushree Patil, crusaders against sex trafficking, builders of government, creators of liberating mobile medical technologies, and curators of slum sports programs. The need for strengthening the connections between those who are working for positive change against seemingly impossible odds has never been greater. We at Acumen have never been prouder to be the thread tying together these courageous individuals. Read more about Manjushree and how she is changing her community in India below! [Read More]

No, not silence again!

The Acumen Fellowship’s Cambridge Leadership Associates (CLA) training is notorious for digging deep, breaking Fellows down to reveal their deepest fears, identifying the sources of resilience that will fuel them with the tenacity to continue along the path to social change. Kahabi G. Isangula is an East Africa Regional Fellow living in Tanzania and recently participated in our CLA training. Get an idea of what it is like, below!  [Read More]

Announcing the Class of 2015 Acumen Global Fellows

Acumen Global Fellows are architects for the impact sector. They are innovators, game changers, visionaries, with various professional experiences looking to make substantial change in the world. They have thrived in companies such as Google; they have started their own companies in Sri Lanka, Canada and Malaysia.  They are choosing the challenge of working alongside our portfolio companies and immersing themselves in a rigorous leadership training. [Read More]