Building a Blueprint for Change

This material was initially created for the Building a Blueprint for Change meeting that was held in Philadelphia in December 2009. The meeting was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service with support from Citi Foundation and in collaboration with Cities of Service and the Service Nation coalition.  This online manual is designed to help city leaders develop a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on placing volunteers with established organizations that are addressing critical needs in the community.

Plan for Action

Structure and Processes

The agenda for the first action planning committee meeting should include:

  • Community building activities to build esprit de corps and familiarity.
  • A discussion of committee structure:
    How will the committee be organized?
    Who makes what level of decision? Discuss roles and responsibilities.
    Will each member of the committee lead or serve on a subcommittee? On which committee and for which priority need?
    Who will put together the subcommittees’ reports to write the comprehensive service plan?
    How can the committee communicate effectively and efficiently during the planning process? Refer to strategies of internal and external communication.
    Where and how often will the committee meet? What is the recommendation for how often subcommittees should meet?
  • Review the priority needs and corresponding assets. (Provide each subcommittee with the needs assessment report and the map of the related assets for the specific priority need the subcommittee’s action plan will address.)
  • Create a basic agenda for each subcommittee to use at their first meeting. This is important because you want all subcommittees to return to the larger action planning committee with the same information and data (see below).
  • What is the timeline?

Download a form to help you through this process (DOC).

Subcommittee Meetings Sample Agenda

  • Welcome and introductions
  • Review priority need and corresponding assets. The key question when reviewing priority needs and assets is “How can volunteering and service impact this need?”
  • Review research and/or resources to generate ideas and innovative solutions.
  • Discuss steps in an action planning process (see those steps below).
  • Begin process of identifying success. Envision the changes you could see in the need/problem after citizen actions and assets have begun to work. Stakeholders will also be included in this process (see more on identifying success below).
  • Review the mechanisms subcommittees may use to convene stakeholders in the action planning process. Brainstorm additional methods that have worked for getting input in your particular community. Depending on the size of the city, some methods may be more feasible than others.
  • Town hall meetings
  • Community Charrettes, an intense design session that usually takes place over several days in which a team concentrates on a particular problem and proposes solutions. Get detailed information on the process.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities for the action planning process.

Steps in Action Planning Process

Identify success: Create a vision and clear goal(s) that the action plan will achieve. What will success look like once we have leveraged community assets to eliminate the need?

  • Envision a time when the identified need no longer impacts the city. During the needs assessment process, what did participants say about their vision for how things could be different? A vision statement should be an inspiring, clear view of a desired future state. The vision statement helps people feel part of a larger, greater purpose. Find out more about visioning. Download a form to help you through this process.
  • Identify up to four goals that, when achieved, will be the culmination of the vision created above. Success should be defined in the positive and not simply the absence of something. For example, if the issue is that 30 percent of high school students drop out, increasing the graduation rate rather than decreasing the dropout rate should define success. While these things may seem like semantics, students may in fact complete high school without meeting the requirements for graduation. Download a form to help you through this process (DOC).
  • Include a timeframe for achieving success, e.g. increase the high school graduation rate to 100 percent by 2020.
  • Provide interim steps to success, e.g. increase high school graduation rate from 50 percent today by 10 percent each year until it reaches 100 percent in ten years.

Brainstorm Strategies: What interventions will address the priority need identified? What are the barriers to successfully implementing the interventions?

Create Budget: What are the necessary resources related to the interventions? How will you develop a budget that details the expenses for carrying out the plan?

Establish Roles and Secure Commitments: Who will implement each of the interventions? Will the partnerships formed among the organizers of the action plan continue into the implementation phase?

Create Timeline: What is the timeline for conducting these activities or putting strategies into place?

Establish Measurements: How will you monitor and evaluate progress? (See Measuring Success)

The first two steps—Identifying Success and Brainstorming Strategies—should have significant input from individual and organizational stakeholders. Individuals and groups should also be asked about the commitment they are willing to make in implementing the strategies.

View a sample action plan designed around a goal of increasing the high school graduation rate. This fictitious plan was created to demonstrate the pieces of the plan as outlined above. Download a blank action plan template (DOC).

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