One Year Later: Tracking Innovation in Process

Scroll through to watch Audio Postcards on each of the 2011 Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund grantees based on interviews conducted in Fall 2011 and released earlier this year.  

For the last month, we’ve been rolling out a series of updates on the 2011 Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund grantees we profiled earlier this year as they approach the halfway point of their two-year grants. The updates are based on interviews conducted with the project leaders in September, almost exactly one year after the initial conversations that lead to the audio postcards.

Across the organizations, I noticed a few common themes:

  • Increase in scope is a common challenge.  With projects as ambitious as these, the cohort reflected that they sometimes had to push back again new ideas and opportunities to keep the mission and scope of the project in line with the initial goals.  But it take a careful balance to do that, while staying open and responsive to project constituents.
  • Community buy-in tends to exceed expectation.  When I first spoke to the leaders on community engagement focused projects, I heard some trepidation about whether community members would fully engage with their new initiatives.  Now, a year later, after thoughtful efforts to engage their community as co-creators and partners, most are finding that engagement is exceeding expectations in both numbers and depth.
  • Innovative projects often require new staff capacity.  There are many new capacities that the organizations found themselves needing in their first year, but none was so consistent across the board as staff capacity.  Trying out  genuinely new ideas requires real work and time, so most organizations found it essential to welcome new members to their team.

We hope you’ll check out the project updates and share your feedback on what you find interesting, what trends you start to see emerging, and what you find most useful in your own work.

Project Updates:


Karina Mangu-Ward is the former Director of Strategic Initiatives at EmcArts.