We just recently encountered this a couple years ago, the one-size-fits-all. And we were beating our heads against a wall saying, one size doesn’t fit all! And you need to understand that there are differences based upon places, and one funder said, “What’s the number of full-time jobs that you’re creating?”
And we kept butting our heads against that one because in an urban area, you may be able to create 400 jobs and you have that number, but you don’t understand the significance of having maybe 40 part-time jobs and what that means in a rural place that has no industry. We want funders to understand that there are challenges associated with being in the rural South and to understand that you have to invest differently and you can’t use the one-size-fits-all approach when you’re dealing with your intermediaries, you’re dealing with organizations that are working in high oppressive conditions. We want to just get them to understand, look at the place, look at the factors, look at the communities. And then when you invest those dollars, you can see that you’re still having a great impact and making a big difference in this community, and it may not be the same numbers that you get when you invest in an urban area, but the impact that you’re having in the life of the people in those communities is significant and well worth the investment.
I think that if funders would invest in those organizations who have proven track records, who are really being impactful in their communities, I think that you’re going to see the greatest return on that investment since everyone is looking for a return on their investment. If you invest in the people who are already on the ground doing the work who are having the greatest impact, I think that that’s when you’re gonna start to see lots of changes happen. What we’re trying to do is to connect those intermediaries. If we’ve got an intermediary in one community that’s doing well, then why not utilize the skills that they have and let them share it with a neighborhood community? And then that way, we’re starting to lift everyone up. If we could link those intermediaries who are working really well, have them share their skills and their knowledge, provide the technical assistance, do peer learning journeys, then I think that’s gonna have the greatest impact in terms of bringing about a systemic change here in the South.