By Alesia Frerichs, LSA Vice President of Member Engagement
Is it possible to improve high school graduation rates, or reduce the number of homeless youth in our communities by December 2017? These questions and others were explored on September 15th and 16th, when leaders from 10 LSA member organizations traveled to Washington D.C. for the first LSA Results Based Leadership Institute (RBLI). Results Based Leadership is a highly regarded leadership development program developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation for health and human service providers, and it combines results based leadership techniques with hands on implementation. At the start of this session, each LSA member committed to making a measureable impact toward the goal of ensuring that All children in the US are nurtured and on a pathway to successful adulthoodby December 2017. This is a very ambitious goal to achieve in a short period of time, but operating with a sense of urgency and call to action is a key component of the RBLI. LSA is offering this unique opportunity to LSA members through a partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation who is generously covering the cost of the RBLI faculty, AECF design staff and travel expenses for participants. I am so proud of this partnership, because this is what we strive to do at LSA--bring resources and opportunities to LSA member organizations to help strengthen Lutheran social ministry organizations and improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
It was truly exciting to see the Results Based Leadership Institute come together. As you can imagine, a lot of effort goes into creating a relevant program and those of us on the design team were full of anticipation and hope as the program we had been working on for 10 months took shape. The design team consisting of Kim Roque, LSA Director of Member Engagement; Charlotte Haberaecker, CEO of LSA; Angie Moellering, President and CEO of LSS Indiana; Myra Griffie, COO Lutherans Services Carolinas; and Sean DeFour, VP Children and Family Services, Samaritas, worked in close alignment with Barbara Squire, Donna Stark and Katie Norris of the Annie E. Casey Foundation as well as RBLI faculty Raj Chawla, and Mac Antigua.
This first session was a wonderful testament to our strong partnership. Building on the work the LSA CYF network has done with the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the stated result defined at the 2016 LSA Annual Conference--All children in the US are nurtured and on a pathway to successful adulthood--this first seminar was designed to help each member define an actionable plan in their organization and with their community partners to achieve a measurable goal for vulnerable youth in their communities. These goals showcase the depth and strength of the LSA network and the many ways the LSA network works to ensure all children are nurtured and on a pathway to successful adulthood. Some of the powerful commitments made include Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains increasing high school graduation rates of foster youth from 33% to 40% in their communities; Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota decreasing disproportional minority contact in juvenile justice by 10%; Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota reducing the incidence of youth of color in homeless by 39%; Wellspring Lutheran reducing the percentage of African American kids in foster care by 20%; and Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area working with their community partners to reduce the number of kids under 10 who come into foster care by 25%.
The session was enriched by guest speaker Molly McGrath Tierney, Director of Baltimore City's Department of Social Services, sharing Baltimore's remarkable journey of transformation and the ways she put RBLI approaches in practice. During her 5 year tenure she reduced the number of kids in foster care by 58%, increased adoptions by 59% and increased the number of kids leaving foster care for families by 47%.
After two full days of work, the energy in the room had not subsided. It was wonderful to see the fruits of all the program design, and what was truly phenomenal was that leaders left ready to put theory to practice, working with their staff and community partners to bring measureable change in their communities. It is an incredibly ambitious goal, but the first session launched everyone on a path to realize the goal. I know there will be a lot of work done between now and the next seminar in November, and I am excited to continue this journey with our LSA members and our partners at the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The following LSA member organizations are participating in the AECF Results-Based Leadership Institute: Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, Lutheran Services Carolinas, Lutheran Services Florida, Inc., Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Lutheran Social Services Indiana, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Upbring (the new Lutheran Social Services of the South), Lutheran Social Services of New York, and Wellspring Lutheran.
For more information about LSA's Children, Youth and Family community of practice, visit http://www.lutheranservices.org/cyf.