- Melinda Steffy
CASE STUDY: Greater Philadelphia Extracurricular Collaborative
SERVICES: Meeting Facilitation, Coalition-Building, Strategic Direction, Website Design
When pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020, the education sector experienced complete disruption. While much of the public conversation focused on schools themselves, extracurricular and out-of-school-time providers were also reeling.
In the midst of the chaos, a group of extracurricular providers and funders began meeting to look for solutions that would ensure the wellbeing of the sector — and of the tens of thousands of youth served.
The Greater Philadelphia Extracurricular Collaborative (GPEC) formed in the spring of 2020. Concentric Strategy was brought on board in June 2020 to facilitate the early coalition-building and help the leadership team establish a business model and strategic direction.
From June through October 2022, Melinda Steffy facilitated weekly meetings of the leadership team, biweekly meetings of the full Advisory Council (approx 35 members), biweekly creative problem-solving sessions between providers and the City of Philadelphia's Office of Children & Families, and regular working group sessions. All sessions were virtual, using a variety of online tools to encourage participation and productive conversation.
In our early conversations, many people expressed a desire to "have a seat at the table" — but it quickly became clear that the table needed to be built in the first place. Our aim in facilitating meetings was to build a sense of connectedness across the extracurricular ecosystem, shift frustrations and fears into solutions, and create clear communications channels where there had previously not been any.
As one participant said:
“You helped us navigate a really difficult and painful time and brought us sunlight. I deeply appreciate it.”
At the same time, we worked with the leadership team to create initial mission, vision, and values statements for the new entity. We created an Identity Statement, which solidified a shared sense of the who / what / when / where / how / and why, and served as the foundation for a business model as a professional membership association.
We also drafted opinion pieces and open letters, articulating the importance of extracurricular programming and the role providers could play during the pandemic. These advocacy pieces distilled GPEC's vision into concrete steps.
In early 2021, we created a starter website for GPEC. We turned formal organizational language into brief, looser "website voice." The site provides information for members, and tells GPEC's story to the general public.
Our work established a foundation that allowed GPEC to move from an ad-hoc group of concerned individuals to a collective entity ready to advocate for their sector.
(thumbnail image courtesy of ASAP Philly)