What is the Learning Lab?
ECFI Learning Lab for Changemakers is a structured learning space for practitioners from the community foundation (CF) field in Europe to enhance their working, thinking and making meaning of social change in their communities. The “Lab” in the title indicates that it is a space that is safe and purposeful. It is a space inhabited by peers, primarily led by peers with limited outside guidance and structuring that is provided through ECFI. At the same time, it is a space that gets “dirty” in two ways:
1) through the experience brought in by practitioners, which is subjected to their individual and collective reflection, and
2) by the very ways of conversations and experimentation (as that is what happens in labs) with ideas, thoughts and reflections of practices, approaches and situations of interest to learners.
The context for this conversation is the post-Covid-19 period when many pieces of the social, economic and political order will be changing. The role of philanthropy and community-based action and civic engagement will play out in a new situation and will have to find its renewed role and function in a new context.
Who is it for?
ECFI invites applications from the staff, board members or volunteers of CFs and CF support organisations, leaders of community philanthropy initiatives who have been engaged in life of community foundations and support oganisations and other relevant types of community philanthropy organisations for at least 1 year. Previous experience outside the field of CFs in areas such as organisational work, social change and community development or similar counts as relevant experience as well.
The term “Changemaker” in the title suggests that collaborators of the Lab are actively engaged in the life of a community or organisational field of community foundations, act for its betterment and as individuals, are in a creative tension with the world. The LLCM assumes that changemakers today are concerned with global issues and seek ways how to connect them to community level and vice-versa.
The Changemakers are invited to become the Lab’s collaborators based on a competitive process. They are meant to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own learning, behavior and decision-making. They join Lab as individuals, not as organisational representatives, however, the connection to their organisation, community and organisational field/sector is important part of the intended scope of the Lab and the Lab provides support for organisations that changemakers are associated with.
How does it work?
The Lab is open for 6 months from July 2021 until December 2021 for up to 7 collaborators.
During the Lab open period collaborators continue their relationship /employment / work with their organisation. During this period, collaborators can use their time to engage with the theme of the Lab individually in the intensity as they deem possible and useful. ECFI realises that each collaborator works in an unique context and organisational setting, with different agenda, schedule and rhythm of work. The 6 months provides ample space for collaborators to engage with the theme in intensity as appropriate. It is expected that each collaborator will commit his/her effort during the period that is commensurate with at least 20 working days.
There will be 5-6 joint events where the participation, preparation and input of collaborators on the subject matter is expected. These events will have a form of half-day on-line workshops and will take place in July (opening of the Lab), September (1st Progress), October (2nd Progress), November (Pre-Final) and December (Final). These events will be hosted by ECFI and shall enable collaborators to get peer feedback and comments.
Besides these "structured“ events, collaborators will be encouraged by ECFI to engage via various efforts such as reading, listening, writing, thinking, participating in on-line conversations and via other creative means individually and, as to their choice, with other collaborators, and others around the theme. Also, collaborators will have an opportunity of several one-on-one meetings with the tutor of the program to discuss issues of their engagement with the topic and provide additional guidance. Due to the pandemic context in 2021 it is likely the the Lab will be working in on-line space only.
Through the engagement with the Lab, collaborators develop any or some of the following: recommendations, concepts, plans, programs, case studies, approaches, methodologies, schemes, processes and the like that are applicable in the CF field context and respond in their unique way to challenges and questions that the 2021 Lab theme ‘Community Foundation Sustainability’ poses.
Collaborators are required to produce a publishable report and commit to apply findings of their work in their organisational setting and to share that experience after some time with other colleagues and engage in review.
The tutor supporting this initial Lab will be Boris Strečanský, ECFI an accomplished professional with broad experience in philanthropic institutions and the community foundation field.
How can I apply?
The Application Form requires from applicants to submit two essays in English language. One on the value of learning for the applicant (to gather insight about his/her motivation) (300 - 600 words) and second on the topic / issue / situation / practice / tool / approach/ challenge/ that elaborates the set theme that the applicant would like to engage with during the session (500 - 1000 words).
Applications should be submitted by 14 May 2021. The applicants will learn of the outcome of the selection process before or on 10 June 2021.
Organisations where collaborators are based, as employees or volunteers, will receive a subsidy based on the cost of labour for the equivalent of one month from €1,500 up to a maximum of €3,000.
For more information or to discuss your interest in becoming a Learning Lab collaborator, contact Boris Strečanský.