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Guidelines - Innovation and Learning Network

Innovation and Learning Network
The Innovation and Learning Network (ILN) will provide up to 10 organizations the opportunity for experiential, collaborative learning and program development.

The ILN is modelled after a previous initiative - the Participation Learning Network. The Innovation and Learning Network shares key elements of the Participatory Learning Network, as well as a key objective – to increase public participation in the arts. However the Innovation and Learning Network will focus on inclusivity, accessibility, and universal design.

The Mass Cultural Council will work with organizations that are ready to embrace the challenge of increasing participation by improving accessibility and who are committed to making universal access a core part of their mission. Based on a model of community practice, the Innovation and Learning Network will bring together organizations with shared interests and similar challenges to learn from each other over the course of a year.

Over the course of the ILN participants will:

  • Develop an initiative to increase participation focused on inclusion, accessibility, or universal design.
  • Define objectives of the initiative and identify measurable ways of tracking progress and defining success.
  • At the conclusion of the ILN, participants will be ready to implement their initiative.

Schedule, Structure, and Components
The ILN will primarily consist of one opening event, one user/expert site visit to each participating organization, five day long sessions, and a series of sharing webinars.

January One evening kick-off event/reception
  One day-long ILN session (First)
February Participants will receive one user/expert site visit
March - June 4 day long ILN sessions (once a month)
  Participants will share site visit experience through one webinar
  Participants will view sharing webinars
December ILN final report due

User expert site visits: A user expert can be anyone with a functional limitation or disability who has developed natural expertise in dealing with the challenges of our physical, information and/or communication environments.

Each organization would receive an on-site holistic review of their organization by user/experts that'll represent a mix of ages, cultures and physical, sensory and brain-based functional limitations. At least two people would be recruited from the UP ILN organization's own community of board, staff, members and friends to round out the user/experts who participate in the evaluation which will range, based on size of the organization from 3 to 7.

At the end of the site visit, each organization will identify 1 to 3 possible issues to focus their initiative/strategy on during the ILN sessions.

Sharing Webinars: After each user/expert site visit, recipients will share photos and lessons learned with the network so that all the organizations can benefit from the learning/experience of the others. Webinars will give each organization about 15 minutes to share.  The Mass Cultural Council will set up the technical aspects of the webinar and ensure the photos from the visit are provided to the organization prior to the webinar.  The organization will provide the narrative.

Initiative Planning/Selection: The participating organizations are expected to require their full staff to view their organization's webinar to learn about the outcomes of the user/expert site visit. After the webinar, the full staff should convene, discuss the site visit and outline their initiative to respond to the issues identified and specify the first piece that they would like work on as part of the network. In this way the network will support the first step of a long term initiative but also provide tools experience that will help them carry the broader initiative beyond the first year.

ILN Sessions: The objectives of the ILN Sessions are to:

  • Provide a blend of experiential and substantive learning that can help the participants learn from peers, user/experts, and expert trainers to build capacity, make change, and develop professional colleagues.
  • Provide time and support for each participant to develop initiative that they will be prepared to implement at the end of the network.

Each of the five daylong sessions will typically last from 10am to 4pm. Sessions will be held at participating organizations' facilities and will involve two main components: Immersion Workshops which are focused on experiential learning, and Working Groups which are facilitated sessions where participants will work on their initiatives and apply experiential learning in real time.

Benefits of Participating in the Innovation and Learning Network
The Mass Cultural Council will support and cultivate the network of UP Organizations to foster idea sharing, collaboration, and best practices. UP aims to catalyze a community of practice made up of learners and innovators who believe life in all its variety is our collective good fortune and a vehicle for richer experiences.

In addition to the Sessions, User/Expert Site Visits, and Webinars, participants in the Innovation and Learning Network will:

  • Receive a $3,000 stipend from the Mass Cultural Council to help offset the cost of staff time required to participate.

  • Be provided access to the technical expertise required to implement their initiative.

  • Be promoted by the Mass Cultural Council, including Council newsletters, social media and/or other methods.

  • Gain a wealth of knowledge, experience and camaraderie by being part of a network of like-minded organizations.

  • Upon successful completion of the ILN, receive UP Designation and be eligible for the Innovation Fund, the UP LEAD stipend, and the UP Award.

Requirements for participation in the Innovation and Learning Network
To participate in the ILN, organizations must be willing to share details of successful strategies in order that the field and the public benefit from collective knowledge.

ILN Participants must:

  • Commit at least one representatives of the organization for every meeting (participants can choose to  send up to four ). Representatives may be staff or board members.

  • One board member must attend the reception at the start of the program and half of the final session.
  • Based on the topic, additional participants are expected to attend the appropriate workshops that relate to specific job duties.

  • Identify and complete specific tasks between large group sessions.

  • Share innovations and outcomes with the ILN, the UP Organizations, and the field at large.

  • Commit to serving as a mentor, providing technical or experiential expertise, or serving as a coach in a future ILN.

  • Complete an annual reporting requirement for the Mass Cultural Council so the Mass Cultural Council can begin to measure the collective impact of UP Organizations

Massachusetts non-profits offering public programming in the arts, humanities, or sciences are eligible to Participate in the ILN and become UP Organizations.

Application Process
Applications are opened in September and due at the end of November.

Complete the Application:

  1. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, Cultural Facilities Fund, SerHacer, MassFestivals, and/or YouthReach applications can all be used.)

  2. Complete the online application. Including an upload of the following supporting document:
    • An organizational resolution approved by the applicant’s governing board stating a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value. If the board is not able to meet prior to the application deadline, the applicant should be able to provide the date that the board will meet to vote on the resolution.

  3. Click the "final submission" button of the online application. Your application will then be automatically received by the Mass Cultural Council.

Review Criteria:
The Mass Cultural Council will review the application materials and select up to 10 organizations for participation that:

  • Demonstrate evidence of a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value.
  • Make a compelling case that the organization:
    • board members, staff, and volunteers are invested in the UP vision can/will be able to commit the time and staff resources necessary to participate.
    • has the capacity, and is prepared to, implement the initiative they will develop during the network.
  • Ensure geographical diversity
  • Ensure diversity in discipline and organizational size/type represented

Final Decisions
A panel of Mass Cultural Council staff and experts in the field of universal design and accessibility will review applications and make recommendations to the Mass Cultural Council's executive leadership for final approval. Decisions will be finalized mid- December.

Award Process
Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of December. The ILN will kick-off in January.

Reporting Requirements
In order to measure the collective impact of UP Organizations and to continue to improve the program through participant feedback, a final report will be required at the end of the first 12 months after designation and yearly thereafter. The final report will entail a 1 to 2 page self-evaluation, results to an all staff internal survey, a short narrative, and the results of a 5 question survey, provided by the Mass Cultural Council, to be completed by visitors to the organization. The final report will be due in December.

Failure to Meet Requirements
An organization selected to participate in an Innovation Learning Network that fails to meet its obligations as a participant will lose its Up Designation and may forfeit its participation stipend.  Organizations that do not meet the annual Final Report Requirement will lose their UP designation.

The Mass Cultural Council also reserves the right to revoke UP designation in cases where the Mass Cultural Council has concerns that an organization no longer represents the ideals of the UP Program. In such cases the Mass Cultural Council will first communicate its concerns to the organization and allow the organization the opportunity to respond and/or address the Mass Cultural Council's concerns in order to maintain its status. If an organization does not address the Mass Cultural Council's concerns it will lose its UP designation.

Proceed to the Online Application

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