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A Proposal for an AmeriCorps strategic planning process
In 2011, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office was awarded two grants to manage an AmeriCorps mentoring program in ten communities in California. In the rush to design and start a large collaborative project in a short time span, the program encountered significant challenges, notably in the areas of mission clarity, communication among partners, and consistency in implementation throughout the state. Based on research in strategic planning for nonprofits as well as the formation and functioning of interorganizational collaborations, this study recommends that the program staff take the lead in facilitating a long-term strategic planning process that is inclusive of key stakeholders, deliberative, and synchronized with its funding cycles. The process is based on Bryson’s Strategy Change Cycle, but with modifications adapted to the program’s unique structure. The staff should create an open, transparent environment in which partners can exchange ideas and where, when possible, decisions are made by consensus. The end result should be a program with a clearer mission, concrete action steps to address major strategic issues, and, perhaps most important, a higher level of trust among its partners.
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