Both/And: Values Based Decision Making in a Time of Crisis

Transforming core services to virtual overnight...bring your child to work EVERY day...sleepless worry for ourselves and our at-risk loved ones...even deeper divides along socio-economic and generational lines...amplified racism and xenophobia....How are we supposed to make the range of critical decisions required of us while swirling in the stress? Our brains have developed a response through biological evolution: pre-programmed shortcuts based on habits. But are the habits that we’ve built in the past representative of the leaders that we want to be today?
In times of stress, our brains naturally default to previously ingrained behaviors to navigate uncertainty. This includes existing habits around top-down, individualistic decision-making; information- (and thus power-) hoarding; and binary either/or thinking. In other words, unless we interrupt it, the extreme stress of today’s circumstances could lead many of us to default to white dominant culture habits in this exact moment when slow and intentional leadership, clear and transparent communication, and trust and relationship-informed decision making are most critical.


Must the show go on? COVID-19 and the Hidden Inequity of ‘Personal Choice’

Even as more large systems suspend activities to encourage social distancing, I continue to hear from many organizations in the non-profit, education, and philanthropic space where internal guidance around whether or not adult staff should travel or work from home really amounts to “use your discretion”, “it’s your personal choice”, or “suspend non-essential activities”. Here’s the problem: there are some messy, uncomfortable, hidden inequities in these generalized, personal choice messages.


It’s About to Get Real…

This month, we’re naming a phenomenon that we see across organizations doing this work, including TNTP and Blue Engine: the more an organization centers DEI, the more unknowns are surfaced. Promise54’s COO Latricia Barksdale offers some things organizations can do to prepare for the bumpy road ahead.


From Saviorism to Co-Conspiring

In this month’s blog exploring cross-cutting themes that surfaced in our DEI in Action case studies we released recently, Promise54's Dawn Albert and Lora Cover take a closer look at one theme that surfaced in Blue Engine and TNTP’s cases  — the role(s) of white folks in racial equity work. This blog is written by white folks, and directed toward white folks.


All of the Above: The Unpaid Labor of People of Color in DEI Work

In our six-part blog series, we explore cross-cutting themes that surfaced in our DEI in Action case studies, and that we see again and again in our work with organizations across the country. As we delve into the challenges and successes of Blue Engine, College Track, and TNTP’s DEI efforts, we first extend gratitude to the many leaders and staff members who were courageously candid with us. It’s because they were willing to vulnerably pull back the curtain — in front of the world — that we’re now able to learn from patterns and leverage these learnings to build more inclusive, radically human workplaces.


In this month’s blog, we take a closer look at a theme that surfaced in Blue Engine and TNTP’s cases — the often overlooked and inherently disproportionate burden that people of color bear in DEI work.


These are not the case studies you’re used to.

Ever since Promise54 released Unrealized Impact — a first-of-its-kind effort to quantify the state of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the education field — we’ve received many requests for narratives sharing organizations’ actual DEI journeys. 

We’ve heard you loud and clear!


Radically Human.

At Promise54, one of our most sacred guiding principles is the idea of being radically human. Xiomara Padamsee, Promise54's CEO, shares what it means to her, and where it came from.


NSVF Summit 2018: Moving Beyond Diversity to True Inclusion

Leaders often shy away from public discussion of our work to deepen diversity, inclusion, and equity in our organizations for fear of saying the wrong thing, being or making others uncomfortable, taking credit for the work of the collective, conveying that we have “the answers”, and so many other reasons. At the recent NewSchools Summit, Jovian Zayne and Xiomara Padamsee organized a session where four courageous leaders did the opposite - they stepped up to share a bit about their individual and organizational journeys, imperfections and all, with the hopes that their perspectives could help to inform and fuel others’ continued progress.


Interrupting White Dominance to Make Good on the Promise of Equity

Today, on the 64th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, I find myself reflecting deeply on the intent of this landmark decision. I believe the spirit of this decision was a promise to decouple race from access in order to eventually remove the predictability of success or failure as correlated with any identity, which is the definition of equity.

We have yet to deliver on that promise.


Executive Coaching is a Key Ingredient of Strong Leadership–Not a Luxury

As a leader, how often have you been in a position where you had to start something new — whether it was a new role or a new project — and you knew you had to bring your leadership A-game in order to empower your team to achieve a challenging task? As we, ourselves, stepped into new roles — Lora as Chief Talent Officer at Cleveland Metropolitan School District and Paul as Dean of Students at Achievement First Crown Heights Middle School — we found ourselves in this position. We had our sights set on success, held a vision we felt passionate about, and benefitted from a highly skilled team around us, but we knew that we would only meet our goals if our entire team was invested in that vision.