Living Cities has been exploring and defining what it means to be a 21st century learning organization since its inception in 1991. We have always placed a premium on learning over success. For the 2016-2019 round, we decided to refine and focus our learning efforts in the hopes of building a 21st century learning tool: a digital platform that would connect practitioners around the country to help them achieve their results in closing racial income and wealth gaps.
We knew that the social sector needed significant investment in digital infrastructure—similar to the massive connectivity investments of wifi, search engines, and social media of the 2000s. We knew that while we could not undertake the massive investment required to create a digital infrastructure that serves the needs of the social sector, we could create a digital tool that meets the needs of our network, and also test some specific hypotheses in the process to build the understanding of what it takes to use digital technologies to encourage learning and racial equity.
This report outlines the process for creating the digital platform, and highlights major lessons learned from our work. The report will be useful for any philanthropy, think tank or intermediary that wants to understand what it takes to be a 21st century learning organization and support communities to close racial gaps.
Contributors to this report included several Living Cities staff members, past and present: Joanna Carrasco; Santiago Carrillo; Shanee Helfer; Shannon Jordy; Julienne Kaleta; Hafizah Omar; Alyssa Smaldino; Carmen Smith.