The Importance of Remembering Your “Why”

The 2019 PIE Network Summit Encourages Organizations to Go Deeper

Great men throughout history have exclaimed that “there is more that unites us than divides us. This message has been used both as a rallying cry toward a new era of innovation and as a warning. Although it may sound like a cliché, the call to action in what “unites us” is to go back to our foundations.  

ScottLaband
Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds and PIE Network Board Chair speaks at opening reception.

Advocates, researchers, and policy experts from across the nation descended upon Austin, Texas in the hundreds for the 2019 PIE Network Summit charged with one task – to go deeper. Sessions such as “Hidden Tribes” and “Strategy Shifts” encouraged us to get out of our way. Perceived challenges of someone’s ideologies, for example, may be just that – your perception.  

Research presented by More in Common found that “Americans have a deeply distorted understanding of each other.” Cited culprits for significant misunderstanding included the media and homogeneous friend groups. This would suggest then, that it is time to unplug and take time to listen to different stories.  

The Summit serves to energize attendees by bringing people together – and consequently new ideas – from different organizations on the nonprofit spectrum. It was refreshing to hear from the Commissioner from the Department of Education in Texas and parent-led organizations who reminded us to “be a friend before you need a friend” and shared their stories of triumph. It reminded us of the inspiring leaders we’ve met and profiled through The Succeeds Prize. 

As Colorado Succeeds centers education policy to impact systems change, we have acknowledged that it is no longer the finish line. We have had the opportunity to truly learn from educators and school leaders who are doing the hard work of educating our kids day in and day out. Kelly Caufield, Vice President of Government Affairs of Colorado Succeeds, spoke on a panel about how we helped to advocate for changes to seat-time (SB19-216) based on numerous school districts pointing to the outdated laws and regulations hampering experiential learning efforts.  

We have traveled to the four corners to observe how innovative ideas take root. Business leaders supporting these efforts want to work collaboratively and are humbly asking “how are you doing this?” and “how can we help?” Building trust is foundational to the work, and that starts with the communities in our respective states.   

Photo Credit: PIE Network – Colorado organizations – DFER Colorado, Stand for Children Colorado, Colorado League of Charter Schools, Teach Plus, and Colorado Succeeds – take home the Best Ensemble Cast award for the Full-day Kindergarten effort.

When you ask the right questions and look for unconventional partners, the outcomes are staggering. We see the proof points in Colorado, and to learn more, Scott Laband, President of Colorado Succeeds, moderated the closing session, “Where do we go from here?” Three students shared their defining moments in school – when they realized they were cared for and that the only limit to their success is their imagination. For all of the advocates, researchers, and policy experts in the room, it brought us back to our “Why.” It reminded us that improving the education system for kids is what unites us and to remain strong in our foundation.    

Photo Credit: PIE Network

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