Increasing Social Capital in Appalachia
Developing an understanding of what conditions are necessary for student agency to have an impact on community vitality
By Joseph Goins
In the spring of 2017, Digital Promise, along with the Kauffman Foundation, sponsored a planning grant to research the nature of education innovation clusters (EICs). The research was aimed at addressing the goals and the mission of EICs and to broaden the understanding of the nature of EdClusters. Specific systemic goals were identified up front:
- Nature and strength of the local EdCluster network
- EdCluster participants — their affiliations, access, levels of participation, motivations, etc.
- Sustainability of your EdCluster
- Functioning, organization, governance of your EdCluster
- How decision making is conducted and consensus is reached within your EdCluster
- How work is approached, coordinated, or prioritized across your EdCluster
- Nature of communications within your EdCluster network
- How innovation is shared and diffused within your EdCluster network.
The planning grant allowed the EIC in the Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC) to work with its staff and create a plan to evaluate the innovation models and the impact they have on increasing social capital. Moreover, KVEC pushed itself in the planning process to develop a deep understanding of what conditions are necessary for student agency to have an impact on community vitality.