Opening Plenary - Strengthening our Culture of Performance

Uploaded by serviceresources on 05.10.2012

Welcome to the Opening Plenary.
We're excited that you all have taken the time to join us
and engage in a new era for Senior Corps.
Today you are going to hear from Jeri Sedlar, author and expert on how boomers
and corporations can rewire themselves for greater satisfaction and outcomes.
You'll also hear from CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer who has been on the forefront
of volunteer management and engagement for decades.
This conference will help you learn more about the national performance measures
and how you will use them to demonstrate your impact and impact you have in your communities.
During the conference, you'll also hear from some of our federal partners.
And you'll have an opportunity to share with each other using chats and forums.
So let's get started.
I'd like to welcome our keynote speaker, Jeri Sedlar.
Good morning, welcome and thank you Erwin for the opportunity to be here this morning.
I'm pleased to be here to kick off your first National Senior Corps Virtual Conference.
Let me begin on a personal note.
I know that I am talking to the movers and shakers of communities so I want to begin
by saying how truly inspired I am by your commitment to the Senior Corps programs
and by your overall passion for that work.
Whether you are a Foster Grandparent Program, Senior Companion Program or RSVP,
you are truly touching many people and making their lives better.
So I want to commend you for that and I would also like to congratulate you on the impact
that your programs already have on communities and on society.
That is why I am so honored to be here today as you learn
about the new Senior Corps performance measures.
So I would like to take a few minutes to talk about why measurement matters.
Oh, the dreaded performance measures, I can hear you.
Sure, it sounds different, even scary as one person told me.
But the end game, the goal is to get strong facts and data about your programs
and then let even more people know about how outstanding they are.
With these measures, what I like to say is in a new way you will be able to strut your stuff.
Yes, we believe the Senior Corps programs are wonderful.
But can we prove it?
How do you prove it?
In today's environment, funders and people 55 plus who I call rewirees,
remember I am the co-author of, "Don't Retire, Rewire".
They are your potential volunteers and they want to know the dynamics
and the numbers behind the Senior Corps stories and success.
Anecdotes about Senior Corps programs are wonderful.
They are what make us smile, they tug at our heartstrings but today, with so much competition
out there for dollars and for volunteers, we have to be great.
We have to be prepared to tell what I call the more comprehensive story.
I am here today to challenge you.
To rewire your mindsets, your thinking about how measuring the value
of your volunteer service matters.
To make my point, I brought a little toy with me.
Some of you may recognize it.
Yes, it is a slinky.
Now you are probably thinking why a slinky.
Because a slinky stretches and the truth is so do we.
My goal is to get you to stretch your thinking about your Senior Corps work,
how you track your success, how you measure it and then how you tell your story about it.
Let me share this story with you.
I live in New York City.
We had a mayor once.
Maybe you recognize his name, Ed Koch.
Well Ed used to stop us New Yorkers on the street and say, how am I doing?
Inevitably, we told him that he was doing a great job
and we proved it by reelecting him several times.
And our city council proved it by continuing to support his budgets.
So when someone asks you, how is your program doing,
what will be your story, what will you tell them?
What will keep them believing in you and continuing to fund your program?
Performance measures.
That's what.
The anecdotes you have about your program are a great opener, but then what, what follows,
what facts will you use to support the anecdote?
Now there is an old adage that says you cannot manage what you cannot measure.
Now think about that line.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure.
I believe you will find that these new performance measures will help you
to better manage and better measure the value of your program to your community.
And in using them, you will be prepared
to answer the question, hey, how is your program doing?
You will be able to answer that question whether it will be asked by a member of Congress,
a corporate funder, or even one of your own volunteers.
Because you will have a bigger story to tell.
Telling a story that combines the anecdotes and hard facts to me should be the goal
of every forward thinking program director today.
We all need to be relevant and to be innovative.
To do that we need to constantly be evolving our work so we can meet the current needs
of our clients, of our volunteers and of our funders.
I know that many of you are probably thinking right now she is talking
about change and the truth is I am.
But change does not have to be bad.
It is not negative.
In fact, changing is maybe the best thing that we can all do to keep ourselves
in the game, to keep us relevant.
Think about that.
Now change is not always easy, but I think we all know that.
But the key is to realizing that you need to embrace change.
And remember with any type of change, you need patience, you need persistence and perseverance.
If you are not measuring what you are doing, you don't know.
Is it getting better or worse?
We need norms, we need benchmarks.
Remember Ed Koch and his brave question, how am I doing?
Unless we have metrics in place, we really won't know how we are doing.
The private sector uses accountability measurements
and performance metrics to report their story.
We hear it in their investor reports.
That's how they are accountable.
They have to report to their investors.
In the nonprofit world, we also need to become more accountable.
It does not matter if you are receiving federal, corporate or private funding;
you need to demonstrate that that investment regardless of how large
or how small is used well and making an impact.
Let me assure you, in this age of decreasing Federal budgets, facts and figures matter.
Measurement matters.
Whether it be in the private or the nonprofit sector, accountability
and impact must be demonstrated to our investors, our funders, and even our volunteers.
Now let me tell you, I coach retiring boomers and consult with organizations who want
to attract those boomers as volunteers, and not surprisingly, boomers have high expectations
but you probably know that already.
They have the high expectations from the organizations
where they will and want to volunteer.
Now boomers tell me they want to be trained.
And I know that Senior Corps does great training.
They want to know though that they are really making a difference.
That is a key driver for many people.
Those volunteers want to know the impact of their organization's work.
As one potential volunteer said to me, I want to know if I'm giving my time,
how many School Districts will we be in,
how many children are we going to be actually serving?
Volunteers want answers.
The truth is they want to "toot their own horn" about the good work they are doing.
And having your metrics is going to allow them to do just that!
Plus it's going to create a great halo effect for all of the programs.
If organizations have difficulty in proving that their volunteer efforts are worth the time,
effort and energy, both funding and volunteers could conceivably dry up in the future.
We will all continue to be inspired by Senior Corps anecdotes.
And the performance measures being put into place will not take away
from those anecdotes instead they're going to strengthen and enrich them
to further demonstrate the impact of Senior Corps.
But let me say, at the end of the day,
it's the impact of the service, that's what really matters.
These measures will demonstrate the impact to truly validate your work.
When you can measure what you're speaking about and express it in numbers,
then you have truly strengthened your story and senior service.
People will always love feel good stories but they will fund facts and figures.
They are what demonstrates that meaningful service is being accomplished.
By nature, people want to be a part of a strong, healthy organization.
The bigger and more impactful the story Senior Corps tells, the more people will want
to support you financially and as a volunteer because they are going
to want to be a part of your team.
So remember, why did I bring this slinky?
Well, I want to give you a visual to think about the whole conference through,
but I want to challenge you to stretch your creativity, to really get you to think,
"How can I use those measurements to tell a better story?"
So the next time that someone says to you, "How is your program doing?
Or a retiring boomer says, "I want to rewire.
Tell me how I can do that through your program."
You're going to be able to say to them, "Sit down and listen
because boy, do I have a story to tell!"
So in closing, let me say, I believe you will embrace these new measures with a belief
that when you do your program will be better.
Your community will be better and your volunteers will be better able
to feel the impact that they are making in your communities.
Embrace the measures.
You are rewiring your mindset, your work, your actions and how you tell your story.
So I started on a personal note and I want to end there, to say that I am totally inspired
by the passion and by the commitment that you all bring to your programs.
I wish you continued success and have a wonderful conference.
Welcome everyone!
My name is Idara Nickelson.
I'm Chief of Program Operations at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Today we're here to talk with Wendy Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation
for National and Community Service, and Dr. Erwin Tan, Director of Senior Corps Programs.
We'll be talking about the reasons why we're implementing national performance measures,
and also the future that they envision for Senior Corps.
Now, Wendy, can you talk to us about why we're making this change?
So we're moving from Senior Corps Programs making their own performance measures,
to talk about their own outcome, to moving towards a model where they talk
about commonly shared performance measures, so we can have a national story.
So can you just talk about that, why we're making this change?
Well, thanks Idara!
I'm glad to be speaking with you today about this.
You know, over the years RSVP, Senior Companions,
Foster Grandparent Programs have done an outstanding job of engaging seniors in service.
It's been wonderful for the actual seniors who participated and certainly for those
who were helped and on the receiving end of their service.
And we've...
all of these programs have done a very good job of documenting their numbers,
their participation, their activities, and going to national performance measures,
national goals, national outcomes, gives us a fabulous platform to be able
to tell this story on a national level.
So really, I'm really excited about it.
It's certainly new and different and we're all anxious about that, but it's an opportunity
for us to be able to showcase and demonstrate the great work going on all over the country.
Great! Now, Erwin, can you talk about the role that Senior Corps Programs, RSVP,
Senior Companions, Foster Grandparents, what role have they played in national service?
So Senior Corps Programs have been around since as early as 1965,
with the start of the Foster Grandparent Program.
We represent over 300,000 volunteers across the country, aged 55 and older;
and we know that Americans will spend approximately a third of their adult life
after the age of 65, the traditional age of retirement.
Now more than ever our communities need the helping hand of an older neighbor,
someone to help guide a child as a mentor, or someone to help the community after disaster,
and that's what the Senior Corps volunteers represent.
Now, this is a big change for the programs and many of our grantees are concerned by it.
Can you talk about what this change will mean?
Why we're doing this at this time when budgets are tight?
They're really thinking about shrinking resources,
having to figure out how they're going to make ends meet to support their programs.
Why are we doing this now?
Well, let me...
I want both of us to answer that, and I'm going to give an interesting example of...
sort of frame this, if you will.
I was with an RSVP Director recently, and I asked her, I said, you know,
you're a successful RSVP Director, and you're running a very effective program,
how do you feel about us moving into performance measures?
And she said, you know Wendy, I'm actually a little nervous about it, I'm anxious about it.
And I said, let me ask you something, do you feel that you've been successful
in engaging your seniors in programs and making an impact in the community?
She said, "Oh absolutely!
We've had such great success," she said.
And I said, "So that's exactly what I want to capture, is tell us about that success
in a great way through the performance measures, so that I can also tell it,
and we together can share this word with leaders across America."
And she said, "Oh, well, I hadn't really thought about it like that."
I said, "That's exactly what we're trying to capture."
So if we can sort of think about lifting up the work of RSVP, Foster Grandparents,
Senior Companion Programs, these Senior Corps programs across America in a very effective,
efficient way to demonstrate the results, I think this is the way to look at this,
and I think it will come to us a lot easier.
When I was a geriatrician, practicing in the community, I would see patients
in their own home and I would see what they needed to stay independent in their own homes,
and that's exactly what a lot of our Senior Companions and RSVP volunteers do
to help the neighbors stay at home.
And they do it in simple ways, such as changing light bulbs, so that a person isn't trapped
in one room in the middle of the night, or they may do it in more expensive ways,
like creating ramps, so people aren't trapped by a wheelchair.
And that's what we tried to do in creating these performance measures.
I thought about all those great activities that we know is happening across the country,
and we decided measures that really do measure that.
What we do is we affect loneliness.
We allow people to feel that they can do what they need to do.
We make people feel that they're supported by their communities,
and that's what's in the performance measures, and that's what we want to be able to roll
up when we talk about the national story of Senior Corps projects and programs.
I think an added comfort level is that we've reached into the Senior Corps programs
for their advice and counseling guidance on this.
In fact, we've looked at Independent Living Surveys as a tool that is being done in a couple
of states to guide us, to become that performance measures.
We're looking at a great disaster program now that will end up how they're responding,
will end up being a great performance measure.
So we're not doing this in isolation, we're seeking the advice of work that is going
on the ground in these Senior Corps programs.
Now, let's demystify this.
So people hear performance measures and it sounds like government jargon
or organizational jargon, what does it mean?
Can you give a specific example of what one of these national performance measures would be,
what does it look like down the line, what does it look like for the programs on the ground?
Great example would be Senior Corps programs working with children.
And in addition to counting the number of children we're working with,
but talking about how the seniors are impacting their lives, are their reading skills improving?
Is their attendance in school better?
Has their behavior improved?
How is their comprehension on what they're reading?
tracking that and seeing how that is improving based on their participation and their work.
In the next few days we'll also be talking about the Senior Corps Survey for Independent Living.
It's a simple survey, you hand it out to the client or the caregiver
that you're providing respite for, and they answer the question.
It's anonymously recorded and then the program compiles all the data
and gives it back to us as one summary statistic.
And then we then turn to all the programs across the country, add them altogether,
and that's what our message is, that's the impact of Senior Corps in this one area.
Now, a couple of years ago we had RSVP,
which Congress said will now be competed, starting in 2013.
So RSVP is sort of first up, what do you think competition will mean for this program
at the start, five years from now, what do you see in the future,
and what does competition bring to that?
So increasingly we're being asked to be accountable for the federal dollars we spend,
and what I can say now is that RSVP is a competitive program.
You'll see that in the material that we're sending out now as part
of advertising this funding opportunity.
And at the end of this process we will be able to say that every RSVP grant was awarded
to the most competitive applicant in that community, and that allows us then to turn
to stakeholders and say, we're spending this money well and we're spending it
to create the greatest amount of impact.
And one could argue that we're catching up a little bit here and we're just now leaning
in towards the curve of tradition, because I've come from state government,
and many years in the state government, I also worked in the nonprofit
and even the private sector side, where a lot of the programs I've worked with were very...
have to be held to high accountable standards,
and it's a lot of paperwork, and I understand that.
But I also served on the end where I took the reports on a state level and I made the case
for funding, for support, for collaborations, for partnerships,
and it lifted up the programs I was working with even more than if we'd had looser standards
or not done reporting on a very effective manner.
And I think that, you know, this day and time, it's so competitive out there,
and when we're doing good work, as we're witnessing with these Senior Corps programs,
and I know they are, I want to make sure that we're documenting that work,
that we can showcase that to governors, to legislators, to members of Congress,
to corporate leaders and to foundations.
We can make this case even better than we already are.
So taking a step back and looking at all three programs again,
what's your vision for all three programs?
Where do you see Senior Corps altogether in the years ahead?
So we find ourselves now at a time when one out of every eight Americans is aged 65 and older,
but look forward to 2030, one out of every five Americans will be over the age of 65,
at that point our country will need solutions to the pressing problems that we face today
and we'll continue to face in the future.
Senior Corps needs to be ready for that moment.
We need to re-imagine Senior Corps now, so that it will be positioned to be a solution
for our country, now, but more importantly in the future.
And Wendy, how does Senior Corps fit into what your vision is for National Service writ large?
Well, as Dr. Tan mentioned, over 300,000 seniors are engaged formally with us;
with our other programs, we also have seniors engaging in a more spontaneous measure
as they are serving alongside AmeriCorps, they're engaged in some of our other programs,
but seniors are living longer, as you mentioned, there are more of them.
You know, I'm entering that role, and I want to make sure that there is a safe place,
a safe organization for seniors to contribute back their time and talents.
There is so much treasure and time and talents involved in our seniors.
They have got so much to offer.
And because they're living longer and they're healthier, they really...
we should keep them engaged.
And research shows us that engaged seniors live longer, they have happier lives, they have...
lower their stress, and they even meet new people,
which is important as you enter your later years.
So I see the Corporation for National and Community Service is a wonderful platform
for Americans who are entering into those senior years, who can look to us and our programs,
and those RSVP Programs and Foster Grandparents Programs and Senior Companions as a vehicle
to enjoy life, engage, and help people at the same time.
So Dr. Tan, why are we doing this now, beyond the performance measures,
really getting to the meat of the programs, what they're doing everyday on the ground
and communities, why make this change now?
We know our country at this time has incredible needs,
communities all across the country are struggling sometimes, as are individuals,
and I've been out there and I've seen what our volunteers are doing.
I've seen the Foster Grandparents Program make a difference in a child's life.
The Senior Companion Program, bring a person out of isolation, or RSVP, working after a disaster.
I know that our grantees can do tremendous amount and I ask them to trust
that they are excellent, trust that their volunteers can succeed,
trust that as a program we will succeed through competition, through performance measures
to alleviate what we do so that all of us, not only within the national service family,
but all of us across the country know about the value of Senior Corps,
because now more than ever our country and our communities need the value of the volunteers.
So Wendy, why don't you talk about what this means at a national level?
What's the significance across the country of this change?
Well, it's really important, and I'll tell you why in my first 100 days that I've been serving
as the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service,
I have learned something very important, that sharing the story and the impact
of our programs is paramount to our success.
I have met with over 50 national leaders, senators, members of Congress,
federal agency heads, governors, superintendents of schools from major metropolitan areas,
and they all want to know one thing, why is the Corporation of National
and Community Service important for me to take a look at, invest in, to collaborate with.
And having national performance measures gives us the advantage, the ability to,
on a national level, lift up the Senior Corps programs
like we've never had a chance to before.
We've had important data and it has been effective, but I think this is going to move us
into the future and give us the substantial impact and story that we've needed.
I'm really excited about the opportunity.
Erwin, can you talk about the health benefits of surveying, particularly for older volunteers?
So as a geriatrician I've seen it in person.
I've seen patients come into the office, maybe they've recently become retired,
maybe they've moved into an area and they're looking for a purpose.
And in talking to RSVP volunteers I've heard them say,
this keeps me one step ahead of being lonely.
I've heard Foster Grandparents talk about how that they wanted to stay home one day,
but they knew they had made a commitment to a child, and because they made that commitment,
they were going to get off the couch and into the world
and be engaged, and we know that's healthy.
I've seen Senior Companions start out with thinking about they're going to do some service,
but then they find a friend for life.
And all these things, being active, feeling that you're needed, having a purpose in life,
not being lonely, those are things that all improve your health.
And we know that volunteers live longer, older volunteers live longer
as compared to people who don't volunteer.
And in the next couple of years we're going to be embarking on some Senior Corps evaluations.
We want to know specifically for our Senior Corps volunteers what are the potential health
benefits of volunteering.
And these are some of the things that we'll be talking about in the next few days.
So thanks for your participation today!
Any closing thoughts for our viewers?
Thanks! I would like to say some closing thoughts.
I'm really excited to be leading the Corporation for National and Community Service and I have
as you can tell some awesome partners in our work together.
But I wanted to give some comfort to everyone that this is a partnership and we're working
with very closely with you and want to be, and this virtual conference is set just
to help you succeed in the days ahead, through this process,
and we have staff that are covering every state in the nation.
That are there willing, ready, and able to support you.
We'll be holding conference calls for technical support.
So I want to just ensure you that you're not alone, you have our support.
We have a great team here at the Corporation for National and Community Service,
and we are ready to help work with you
as you lead Senior Corps programs in your local communities.
Thank you so much!
Enjoy the virtual conference!
This conference has been exciting for me and I hope it's been exciting for you.
I also hope that you have a better understanding of our national performance measures.
And how they will help us share the impact that you have in your communities every day.
I look forward to hearing from you about your virtual conference experience.
What worked for you and what didn't?
I know many us would prefer face to face meetings, but that's not always possible.
So your feedback's important.
It's going to make us think of new ways to provide cost-effective training.
You should be proud of yourselves because you blaze a trail here.
You've shared ideas.
You've taught each other.
You've done it all online.
We've also been able to share our vision of Senior Corps.
It's not without challenges, but challenges are always a part of change.
We appreciate all that Senior Corps has done for the past forty years.
Finding new ways for training and holding conferences.
Using national performance measures to demonstrate impact.
And adapting our programming to reflect the changing needs of our communities.
These are all things that will help position Senior Corps to be even more successful
in the next forty years and beyond.
Thank you very much for your participation in our conference.