The Best Work of My Life
By: Jane Swift, LearnLaunch Institute President & Executive Director
Welcome to our refreshed website! This new site represents the culmination of a great pivot by the LearnLaunch Institute as we emerge from the COVID 19 pandemic as a more vital, more resilient, and more relevant organization. In February of 2020, we were poised to undertake a thoughtful and thorough strategic planning process coming off a successful conference. Even before COVID hit, we needed a strategy refresh. Our work was anchored by our acclaimed annual “Across Boundaries” conference. We were a traditional 9-5 operation in our co-working space in the vibrant Seaport District, and we focused much of our direct service through a public-private partnership (MAPLE) with the Commonwealth and multiple school districts to support them with personalized learning (MAPLE). However, the co-working sector had become competitive, and the pricing in the market made our cost structure unsustainable even without COVID mandatory closures. The philanthropic organizations backing MAPLE had moved to new priorities.
The pandemic was a potentially devastating blow. However, the success of our conference, flexibility from our non-profit funders, and the federal Paycheck Protection Program gave us a lifeline. The work to reimagine our value in a rapidly changing education sector and find a sustainable business model in the face of cataclysmic upheaval proved to be an opportunity to emerge as a reinvigorated innovation hub. One ready, as our landing page states, to be a catalyst to “Unleash the Power of Innovation.”
As you will see on these pages, we have embraced three foundational calls to action: Engage, Convene and Lead. Our roots are in engagement and convening, but we do that today through entirely new services to education practitioners, public policy leaders, and the innovation community. Even as we return to in-person events, we are taking what we’ve learned and done and adapted it to the new public health reality to relaunch hybrid gatherings that are powerful and make an impact. Our success over the past 12 months positions us to lead topical efforts to strengthen the education innovation ecosystem – both in Boston, New England, and nationally.
I have been telling colleagues, family, and friends that this is the best, most challenging, and rewarding work of my career. While recovering politicians are susceptible to hyperbole, the services we provide to school and district leaders in K-12 at a time of incredible stress are infinitely rewarding. I have always loved building hard-working, high-achieving teams aligned around a shared mission, but doing so in a completely virtual environment with an entirely new solution has greatly increased the degree of difficulty. Yet, as you will see, we have attracted a stellar team to work on important initiatives. We possess diverse backgrounds and experience. This team is a force of nature – even if most of us have yet to meet in person. And we are continuously energized by the most talented college students in America who join us as interns.
In many ways, the need to be scrappy and agile was a gift. I confess to listening to this inspirational “motivational mix” to keep me energized. I am wired for scrappy. And I confess that I have occasionally dressed as a baby shark and danced to that over-played ditty to celebrate significant wins and milestones.
I hope you will feel the enthusiasm and zeal popping off the page as you look through this new site. And, as we continue to evolve our work and ‘unleash the power of innovation’, we would value your feedback and we are ready to support you.