Written by Arlinda McKeen May 6, 2015
Little grandkids are greatly entertaining and full of curiosity. Two little ones ages 7 and 4 are part of periodic weekends of fun for me. The oldest seems to revel in learning and taking the opportunity to read aloud and giggle over her Junie B. Jones books while the youngest can pretend some very vivid dinosaur family interactions. They are learning and figuring things out at every waking moment.
That's a lot like the rest of us, don’t you think? My college-age niece recently commented to me, "I just love learning! There is so much stuff out there." Yes, and there's more every day.
SPPG is in the business of learning and figuring things out every day; we’re sort of like big kids. For our clients we put together sets of information, ideas, and actions that tell their stories - in ways that help them make progress in their own areas of interest. And, yes, those stories that are our products for our clients and their issues do represent their point of view and goals.
For example, children and youth who need a safe and enriching environment when they are not in school do benefit from participation in Iowa's before school, after school, and summer learning programs funded by federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants. We have the stories and numbers to prove it!
Or, creating a peer-driven process and new “standards” for organizations and programs serving people experiencing or at risk of homelessness has been a significant learning experience for those in that profession statewide. Coming together from across the state, leaders working daily in their local programs identify commonalities and differences in the program needs and drive program quality from within the system instead of from an outside mandate. These "stories" will be shared statewide.
And what about our challenges to grow Iowa's middle-skill workforce? Those working to strengthen the workforce and support community growth know there is learning, sharing, and building to be done. Recently about 220 people came together to tell their stories and through professional development, bring new ideas and approaches back to their communities.
I recently marked my 21st year at SPPG. One comment I very unexpectedly received said, "Thanks for all your efforts to make Iowa better!" For the SPPG team, this is the reward in our work – taking what we gather from around us and making something greater from it.