Ideas and Impact

Program Design Roadmap: Helping Leaders Prepare to Drive Change in Early Childhood Care and Learning

In a new report, Arabella Advisors explores how we can design and implement relevant, effective programs to prepare leaders across early childhood systems to drive change.

photo of young children with their teacher

Designing and implementing relevant, effective programs for social impact leaders requires putting the needs of people at the center of the planning process. To prepare leaders in early childhood care and learning to drive systems change, Arabella Advisors and the Packard Foundation engaged in an inclusive research and design process that amplified these leaders’ voices and built upon the knowledge and capacities of existing partners and platforms. Our approach exemplifies use of the 3P’s framework which we have developed to help ensure effective strategic implementation through alignment of the People, Partners, and Platforms needed to drive change.

Well-prepared early childhood leaders motivate and inspire their teams, lead more resilient and effective
organizations, and mobilize their communities to create systemic change. Yet effective, well-resourced leadership development programs are scarce and scattered. Years of investing in early childhood care and education had made clear to program officers from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Children, Families, and Communities (CFC) and Organizational Effectiveness (OE) teams that the field’s leaders face a host of complex challenges. Arabella Advisors and the Packard Foundation set out to change this by exploring the national landscape of relevant leadership development offerings, learning about leadership development needs directly from early childhood care and learning professionals in California, and identifying the right partners to advance essential training. Grounded in this learning, the Packard Foundation and its new implementation partner, Rockwood Leadership Institute, are poised to pilot a leadership development program for early childhood professionals in 2020.

As the Arabella team knows from many years of helping funders design and implement new strategic initiatives, how we go from idea to impact relies on our ability to effectively engage people, partners, and platforms. The journey we took to get here was as important as the outcome it will ultimately achieve. By sharing a step-by-step account of the process, we hope to help other philanthropists and change makers chart their own paths from idea to impact through strategic implementation.

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