Calling You Forward to Learn, Improve and Grow…

Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

0 1 26 January 2021

Welcome to January 2021. Yes, I know the month is almost over, but honestly I feel like I’m still trying to catch my breath. In some ways Christmas feels like it was just yesterday and yet oh so long ago…

I don’t know what Christmas traditions you have in your home, but in ours we have a whole slate of movies that are holiday favorites - While You Were Sleeping, Die Hard (yes, this is a Christmas movie), White Christmas and many more. We often find ourselves injecting random quotes into our holiday banter. Things like, “He seems to be leaning…”, “We’re going to need some new FBI guys.”, and of course a rousing round of the classic song “Sister, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…”

I know, I know, you’re wondering where I’m going with all this. Well, I want to talk about sisters, but not in the traditional sense of the word. When I look at CALP organizations I see two parts – or Sisters – Programming and Operations.

Throughout the last year we have seen how CALP Programs have adapted – connecting with learners on a multitude of platforms, finding new and innovative ways to keep them moving towards their goals, etc. It has been wonderful to see your creativity and open hearted response to the needs in your community.

But what about the lesser talked about sister – Operations. How are we doing in this area of our work? I would argue that the operational side of your organization has been impacted just as much as the programming side. I’d also note that this area doesn’t always get the same attention or kudos – it can often be the Cinderella of organizational duties – working behind the scenes to keep things going and sort things out.


Over the last few months I’ve had more than a few conversations with CALPs that are working through board and staff changes, financial implications where projected revenues have not come in, and trying to think strategically in uncertain times. They are also keenly aware of the upcoming 3-Year CALP Grant Application, where they will be asked:

  • how they have engaged and assessed their community to identify foundational learning needs (Needs Assessment)
  • how they are learning about and connecting learners to other supports and services (Mapping Community)
  • how they are sharing the message of the amazing work they do with their community at large (Engaging Community)
  • what steps they are taking to ensure operational health (Organizational Planning)

We have all been stretched over the last months and the learning curve has been a steep one, but I have good news! None of you is alone in the journey!

“Call them forward to learn, improve and grow, rather than just get something sorted out.”
Michael Bungay Stanier

This is exactly what I want to do for each of you – call you forward into learning! I understand the reality and necessity of “just getting something sorted out”, but whenever possible, I feel we can all benefit from a deeper dive into improving and growing our understanding.

With that in mind, I’m excited to share that the CLN has a series of IntegralOrg Lunch and Learn webinars coming up to help address 3 key operational pressure points:

These sessions will help build your operational muscles so you can meet the current and future challenges head on. We all have room to grow and expand our understanding, so why not invest in your organization by registering for one or all of these sessions.

How else can you take the dive?

  • Reach out to each other – post your queries on the Portal or pick up the phone and connect with another CALP staff person who can share their learning
  • Touch base with your Regional Support Staff, we’re here to help and support you
  • Call you Grant Manager and ask for clarity, suggestions and input
  • Invest in your own learning, and invite your staff and board to expand their knowledge as well

I hope you’ll respond to the invitation to learn, improve and grow. I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

Val Rathjen
CLN East-Central RSS


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