Reflecting on our Year as a Social Innovator

  1. Updates

Last year, Playworks Metro Boston participated in Root Cause's prestigious Social Innovation Forum. In December, we were recognized for completing our year as a Social Innovator at a special reception. In honor of our SIF anniversary, we thought we'd have Max Fripp, our Metro Boston executive director, reflect on what he's learned this past year.

What impact has partcipating in the Social Innovation Forum had on you and Playworks?

My ability to clearly describe our program model and social impact has greatly improved. We've been able to identify three measures critical to our success: 1) physical activity 2) recovered learning time and 3) school climate. Our external study with Mathematica will give us evidence-based data to support these measures.

Each school partner pays $25,500 for Playworks to operate the full-time program on-site. This is less than half of the total cost to Playworks. This earned income model is unique in the nonprofit world and key to our growth. Through working with our SIF consultant Chris Herron, I've learned to use these facts to clearly discuss our finances with external audiences.

Using the impact above, we worked with SIF's various partners to create a roadmap that details a clear vision for growth in the next three years.

Now that you have a reputation for innovation, what are some future innovations you envision for Playworks?

We are lucky to have a shared understanding of what we do; Playworks in Metro Boston mirrors Playworks in Newark, Playworks in New Orleans, Playworks in Oakland, etc. We use this shared understanding to expand what we do. For instance, our Junior Coach Leadership Convention and Invent-A-Game curriculum are locally designed initiatives that build our program, provide further leadership opportunities for our coaches, and teach our kids important 21st century skills.

I'm interested in growing and retaining our base of coaches. We're hoping to pilot a "Summer Coaching Institute" for top-performing program coordinators. Folks would be able to participate in professional development workshops and complete a capacity building project for Playworks. Initatives like this are important, especially as we continue to look to our program coordinators to take on leadership positions within the larger framework of the organization.

I'm also thinking about how other areas that Playworks can't serve can leverage the idea of "recess" and "play coaches" to develop their workforces and education systems. I'm continually amazed by the transformative power our coaches possess. Through training and on-going support, Playworks can help cities across Massachusetts make recess an important part of the school day and provide more employment opportunities.  By bringing in passionate, local talent, we can accomplish both goals at once.

Here's Max speaking at the State House for The Boston Foundation's Healthy People/Healthy Economy launch, along with elected leaders Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and Sen. Susan Fargo.

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