A weekly round-up of reading recommendations to kick-off 2016!

During time between Christmas and New Years, our staff spent a good deal of their time reflecting on the year that had passed - on wins and progress, and on failures and opportunities. And this meant that we had plenty of time to read! To kick-off our weekly #GoodReads round-up in 2016, we’re sharing the best of what we’ve read: some of the most insightful reading on current events and emerging issues that are already shaping the 2016 landscape, ahead of a U.S. presidential election.

CEO Suggestion

The Art of Serendipity - The New York Times

Recommended by Ben Hecht, President and CEO, Living Cities

Complex problems require new and creative solutions but often people don’t know how they can be “creative” or “innovative.” I loved this article from the New York Times on serendipity. The article addresses how we can cultivate serendipity or the art of finding what we’re not seeking.

More #GoodReads

What We Learned from Obama’s Town Hall on Guns – CNN

Recommended by Jeff Raderstrong, Program Associate, Collective Impact

If you missed the President’s “Guns in America” town hall last Thursday, CNN provides a wrap up in the form of five takeaways. The town hall was a rare opportunity for Obama’s critics to confront him directly about his policies, as it featured individuals such as a gun store owner and a sheriff with legitimate concerns about his gun control policies. But Obama responded to the questions with the same attitude he is trying to bring to the gun control debate: with reason and common sense. I thought this willingness to open himself up to criticism showed his integrity on this issue, which I hope can raise to debate on gun violence and gun control to a new level of civility.

A Lonely Road: For the Poor in the Deep South’s Cities, Simply Spplying for a Job Exposes the Barriers of a Particularly Pervasive and Isolating Form of Poverty - The Washington Post

Recommended by Tiffany Ferguson, Program Associate, Public Sector Innovation

A wonderfully somber articulation of the plight of job-seekers in places where housing and opportunity are far apart. A Washington Post writer shares the story of Lauren Scott, a 20 something single mom who is struggling to lift herself from extreme poverty while living in a suburban Atlanta community that is ill-equipped to support low-income residents. The primary premise of the article is to explore the legacy of welfare reform and how the safety net has shrunk for those who are unable to find consistent work. It also calls into question the role of well-intentioned policy that instead of enabling people to work their way out of poverty, it might actually be the thing keeping them there.

The Superintendent Who Turned Around A School District - NPR

Recommended by Sindhu Lakshmanan, Intern, Capital Innovation

Education has long been considered the great equalizer. But what happens when differences in race and income create obstacles that prevent every child from having the same starting point? For those kids living in poverty, it means that, “instead of [them] having a running start, they are standing in a ditch, and you want them to do a high jump…they can do the high jump if you give them the right platform as a springboard.” NPR tells the story of Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of the historically low-performing Jennings School District in Missouri, who made it her priority to alleviate the barriers poverty creates. By partnering with social service organizations to turn schools into community hubs that do everything from operating homeless shelters to providing laundry services, the district now boasts a 100% college and career-placement rate. While the numbers are impressive, I found the story to be inspiring because it shows the power of communities and how much there is to gain when people band together to work collectively toward a shared mission.

Chick-fil-A is Making an Unprecedented Move to Hook Millennial Moms - Business Insider

Recommended by Brittany DeBarros, Program Associate, Collective Impact

This article isn’t about social change work - but it does describe how Chick-fil-a will apply a profoundly simple and virtually cost free change to the way they do business in order to better serve what their competitors consider a “difficult to reach” population: millennial moms. Reading about this inspired me to consider how similar principles could be applied to delivering government and direct services more effectively.

Happy Reading!