2002 Old St Augustine Rd, Building A, Suite 50, Tallahassee, FL 32301

Strategic Planning Narrows Council Focus

A picture of six individuals standing in a room

CSC Leon hosted its last regular council meeting on October 19. One agenda item focused on sharing the results from the Strategic Planning Session held a few weeks prior. Collectively, the Council desires to shift its focus for funding priorities away from all eight (8) impact areas, as originally identified in July 2021. Instead, it will focus on possibly just one or two areas for the upcoming fiscal years. This narrowing of focus is intended to invest more dollars for solutions that address root causes of certain issues, like Kindergarten Readiness and Youth Mental Health.

During the Strategic Planning session, the Council spent time discussing the merits of “going deep versus wide” with the amount of funds available. Currently, CSC Leon is limited in how fast it can responsibly distribute funds for various impact areas due to its small staff, big goals and required procurement laws. Agreement quickly emerged among Council members that the “peanut butter approach” to funding programs would not yield significant results and that every funding decision should be data-driven and specific. In addition, programs must have clear accountability measures directly associated with the outcomes we hope to influence moving forward.

The discussion then led to a deeper understanding of short-term versus long-term outcomes and the necessity of funding programs to accomplish both. This is where some dissension among Council Members emerged. For example, programs that yield short-term results for Kindergarten Readiness (e.g., high-quality early learning programs for three and four year old children) look very different from those designed for long-term impacts (e.g., birth-three home visiting programs). Different still are long-term investments that address the issues at the root of a systemic problem our community faces; in this case, a lack of parenting knowledge on the importance of early literacy or the lack of qualified early childhood educators are rooted in why kindergarten readiness rates are poor. Each of these approaches require different metrics and timelines to measure true change.

What is clear is that we know that all of the impact areas originally identified by the Council are absolutely interrelated. One cannot truly impact something as straightforward as “Kindergarten Readiness” unless you remove the barriers to learning like hunger, health, and well-being. And that starts with ensuring families have the strongest foundation possible.

Ultimately, it is our collective responsibility to ensure all understand – Council Members and the general community at large – that the big changes we are seeking to make will not happen over night. Additionally, they will not happen in isolation. These issues have persisted for generations, and addressing them will take time and sustained effort.

While the Council was successful in narrowing its focus, what will ultimately emerge as the Council’s next funding priority will not be decided until its December meeting.


One Response

  1. Ed Feaver says:

    This is an excellent approach. To be successful it will require integration of functions that are now scattered among too many independent providers. This is long overdue. Good luck. Ed Feaver

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