Charting the Course: Time Traveling Together


At WRF’s 2017 Biennial Grantee and Stakeholder Convening, Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, WRF president and CEO, kicked off the event by announcing that the Foundation was launching a year-long strategic planning process at that very moment. She went on: “We do not want to do a plan steeped in where we are now. We actually want to create a strategy that propels us forward.” Throughout the day, attendees leaped ahead to that future.

Imagining the future potential of Arkansas means constructing a positive vision. Trista Harris, Philanthropic futurist and Minnesota Council on Foundations president, explained:

Futurism is important because it helps us anticipate what’s going to happen five years, 10 years, 50 years from now in our communities so that we can start to match those curves rather than something happening, us trying to develop solutions, and then – by the time we develop a solution – there’s a new problem that we’re dealing with.

Trabian Shorters, Asset-framing leader and BMe Community founder, asked the group, “If you could tell the story only one way, who do you think we are?” He encouraged participants to reframe the prevailing negative views of Arkansas and instead construct an asset-based narrative that would motivate people and mobilize resources to make it reality.

The group’s vision for a future Arkansas embraced love, prosperity, and inclusion, themes highlighted by the biennial’s facilitator, Greg Hodge. Inclusion is paramount because, as impact investor Daryn Dodson noted, “There’s a big problem. People don’t sit in circles with the people whose problems they are trying to transform and change to learn and co-create solutions.”

One could say that inclusion and co-creation were the guiding principles of the day, as WRF asked participants to share their own vision for the future of education, the economy, and social justice.

The brainstorming done by the 150 people in the room will inform the final planning phase of the Foundation’s Reflection, Analysis, and Planning (RAP) process. Now it’s the Foundation Board’s turn to time travel to that shared vision for a future Arkansas. The Board’s charge is to understand that vision of the future and return to the present with bold and innovative ideas Arkansans can put into action to get there.

Over the next six to nine months of planning, WRF will continue to extend the
Governor’s legacy of “learning” and “doing,” just as it has for nearly 45 years. The Foundation will gather additional stakeholder input and feedback, and the Board and staff will launch the new plan in December 2018 and prepare for the next decade of difference.  Stay tuned to find out what the future of Arkansas has in store!

We are sharing what we and our partners learned from our year of Analysis in our “Analysis: Digging Deep” blog series. This series is part of our Reflection, Analysis, and Planning (RAP) process, which the Foundation is engaging in as our Moving the Needle (MTN) 2.0 strategic plan draws to a close and we prepare for what comes next.

Disclosure: Lisa Ranghelli wrote this series of blog posts on behalf of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), in fulfillment of a contract between WRF and NCRP. At the time the consulting contract was initiated, WRF president and CEO Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury was Board Chair for NCRP. As with other consultants involved in the Foundation’s Reflection, Analysis, and Planning (RAP) process, NCRP was compensated for writing this content on what the Foundation learned during its year of Analysis.