ZSR has always sought to listen to and learn from North Carolinians, grantees, funding partners and others. And as our travels around the State have proven, learning is always a journey rather than a destination. As our State grows and changes, our knowledge will grow and change as well.
Going forward, we want to be more intentional about our approach to learning.
As highlighted in ZSR’s Framework for Grantmaking and Learning, the strategies we use to help North Carolinians address challenges and seize opportunities must be adaptable and flexible to reflect the many different issues, assets, communities and leaders that are present in our state at any given time.
To engage in learning in an ongoing, evolving way, we are embracing learning models that allow us to focus not simply on outcomes, but also on how and why those outcomes occurred and what meaning can be gleaned from that analysis. The challenges and opportunities facing North Carolinians are complex, and we believe that grantees’ expected outcomes have to evolve as their circumstances change. Often called “adaptive learning” or “emergent learning,” this approach allows us to embrace unforeseen changes and new opportunities that arise and adjust accordingly.
This approach to learning is intended not to benefit ZSR alone, but to create new ways for “funder and field” to learn and change together. We are building our muscle to be able to implement this new approach to learning and will provide additional information as it is available.