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Build Something

There are frequent stories about our country’s need for growth and job creation.  People want meaningful employment that is unlikely to be outsourced or given over to automation or robotics.  This is another opportunity for your school to give back to your community.

Building a new building, creating a new product, adding a new service to an existing portfolio, and writing a phone app are examples of things that create an economic benefit for a community.  Sometimes the activities create economic benefits that reach further than just their communities of origin.

When something is built, it adds to the economy in many ways.  It creates new jobs.  The increased economic activity strengthens the local economy.  The tax base of the community expands.  The growth in the economy adds to the community’s vibrancy, optimism, and sense of well-being.

By starting a new program or adding new services, your school becomes a builder.  Since the new program or services will be mission centric, they will benefit your students or families and, by extension, your community.  Your new program strengthens your mission and adds to the sustainability of your school and community.

The new program or services will be one more way your school is meaningfully, measurably, and durably changing your students’ lives and your community.  Your new program or services provide double value for your community (new benefits for students and additional economic activity in your community).  Your current donors and community support demonstrate how much appreciation there is for your program.  That gives you some insight into how much your new program or services will be supported.

In addition to the student benefits, you can use the economic impact to persuade your donors and community to fund the development and deployment of your new program or services.  You will need to build the business case for support.  The prospective supporters will want to know how much it will cost to develop and launch the program or services.  Also tell them what you estimate the economic benefit will be (number of jobs created, potential income and other tax revenue from those jobs, the additional services your school will be purchasing to develop and operate the new program or services, etc.).

The economic benefit will fund the development and initial launch of your new program or services.  The expanded impact the new program or services have on the lives of your students will provide the expanded support necessary to cover the ongoing operating expenses.

Before you begin the process of building something new for your community and students, you will want to test-drive your ideas with representatives from each of the groups who will be supporting your initiative during development, launch, and ongoing operations.  Their input will help to ensure that your new program will be more than viable, it will have a high level of sustainability.

Next Step:

Ensure your new initiative has strong community and donor support

Build both economic- and student-impact cases for your initiative

Share your plan with both groups of supporters (economic impact and student impact)

Ensure you have adequate support for creating the new service offering and the ongoing operation of the new service offering before beginning to build it

Your community may be willing to consider a significant increase in an existing program as a build.  For example, if beginning to serve an underserved demographic group would require your staff to double, the community and the demographic group might be willing to treat the expansion like a build because of the significant economic impact and the number of new students served.

The preceding example makes another point.  The number of people served or hired is less important than gathering support for the initiative.  This implies that success depends as much on your advocates as it does on the benefits the initiative provides.

Take It Further:

Look for other opportunities to leverage your school’s activities to attract support from nontraditional sources

Include the economic benefit of the lifelong impact your program has (student self-sufficiency, student upward mobility, etc.) when seeking support for operational funding and talking to non-traditional sources

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