The Root Cause Blog
30 Oct

Guest Post: FC + SIF = Impact^2

Written by Abbie Waite

Without Root Cause’s Social Innovation Forum there’s a chance Future Chefs might still be operating out of a three-desk administrative office in Waltham. But we’re not! In less than 2 years since our selection as a Social Innovator (2011: Educational and Employment Opportunities for Vulnerable 14- to 21-Year Olds), Future Chefs is far from where we started. This month marks inaugural programming in our very new home: a 2,400 square foot state-of-the-art Teaching Kitchen and Classroom complete with a seven-person office. And better yet- it’s in Boston’s South End/Lower Roxbury, where Future Chefs’ school-to-career services are deeply needed.

Thanks to our engagement with the Social Innovation Forum, Future Chefs extended our outreach to serve more students, more often, and more effectively.

How? By wholly committing to a collaborative relationship with the Root Cause staff, consultants, capacity-building process and learning community. Future Chefs needed organizational mentoring, access to professional resources and ongoing support to move forward. And that’s just what the SIF engagement provided: knowledge, opportunities, access to potential partners and the tools and coaching to make those connections effective.

Tools: Public speaking and presentation skills training; marketing materials rich with data (a formal prospectus!); quality data analysis; executive coaching.Access: Connection to numerous funders and businesses at Innovator Showcases; endorsement from the Root Cause Innovator designation; inclusion in the diverse SIF community; continued introduction to Boston leaders.Mindset: Performance measurement matters! Having the ability to identify, quantify, track and measure performance is key to making strategic and meaningful decisions, organizational and programmatic.

There’s no question that the SIF process challenged us to use our limited resources to make a developmental leap. It prepared us to do what Toni Elka set out to do in the first place but to do it better: to provide Boston’s young people with quality work and education experiences and support them in developing a broad base of transferable skills for their transition into the working world.

Moving forward is not easy. Our work with the SIF gave us a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices our students make in Future Chefs’ intensive pathways programming. For this understanding and so much more, we are grateful. Thank you, Social Innovation Forum.

Written by Abbie Waite, Marketing and Development Coordinator, Future Chefs