ReimaginED Capital
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ReimaginED Capital

The Power of Communities

A community has the power to catalyze change, and with that, open doors for new innovations in education..

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Does reimagining (and then prototyping) radically better futures in education (or any other domain for that matter) require one to be in the ‘right seat’, having the institutional leverage and industry experience to shift the needle? Assuming then that that’s the only reliable route to accessing financial & human capital for driving traction?

Or can permission-less innovation rule the roost? Can a group of committed aligned actors self-organize to drive action and commitment? Put another way, can ‘block power’ be the catalyst for transformational change in domains that have a lot more inertia and systemic forces at play?

Perhaps a couple of examples to illustrate this better.

Brooklyn-based BlocPower is bringing renewable, reliable power to the block, and raised $63 million in debt and equity in February.

Residents in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tulsa, and other cities are using neighborhood trusts to buy community real estate and deal with absentee landlords, extractive businesses, and displacement.

What is clear in these situations is the activation of local roots and community engagement. Block-led solutions are poised to scale, with larger deals and larger pools of capital. The founders, leaders & investors in these companies are using their proximity to communities and their personal lived experiences to build diversity-informed companies and platforms for a more inclusive economy.

In education, the role of teachers and institutions has begun shifting from an information provider to a transformation engine. And for those that don’t respond in time, their time will run out. As the ‘consumers’ of education get comfortable with the adaptations (and choices) brought on by COVID, they will look for ways to self-organize (online, in-person, or a hybrid) to get their (and their childrens’) need’s met. They are no longer stuck to being taught in or by the school ‘block’ they were accustomed (or resigned) to pre-COVID. They’ve realized they’re a block themselves as a community and have the power to catalyze change, and with that, open doors for new innovation and capital flows to serve these new metaphorical blocks. Parents and community leaders have come together to teach their children and those of their communities. Community schools were already in ‘vogue’ in the village and indigenous communities. The lockdown of schools and a lack of confidence in how schools can safely serve their students meant that homeschooling, unschooling, and other ‘non-verified forms of learning have gained traction (and credibility).

Rather than shunning these alternatives, education regulators and administrators ought to ask how to combine forces with impacted community members (parents, students, and even teachers) to create new innovative hybrid models (‘blocks’), backed by robust governance, so that impact investors can consider it for their deal flow and policymakers can work to bring these flexible models into their overall pedagogical strategy.

Before they get blocked out.

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