The term "capacity building" can mean many things for different organizations- and can sometimes be part of the mysterious secret code that is the language of working within the Non-Profit world. However, what "capacity building" means for us is figuring out how we can make sure our big dreams and visions (a world where queer youth have agency over their lives, where we are building community accountability and we are all working towards social justice... etc, etc) can be sustained in the work we do as an organization. Some of CB for our group will mean creating systems within our organization that will help strengthen our organizational memory, fundraising and community connections.
Topics and questions we covered this weekend included and were definitely not limited too:
How do we keep our visions and values clear when we work within a system that may distract us from the work we really want to be doing?
What leadership means within our groups and how we are striving to recreate the standard definition to one that is less hierarchy and more collaboration based.
An assessment of the strengths we have and the challenges that our organizations are currently dealing with.
The cool part is that we are in this for the long haul. We will be meeting with these same 5 organizations (what TACS is calling a Cohort) for the next 18 months- traveling to the cities where each group resides; Tacoma, Kennewick, Walla Walla, Portland again and then back home in Olympia. From my own point of view, its been a great experience to be able to connect with and get ideas from 5 other organizations who may have some of the same values as us, but in may ways have very different approaches to working with queer young people. Also, it was really comforting ( and in some ways troubling) to hear that other group around the area are struggling with the same things we are- it definitely puts things in perspective.
More reports to come as we continue to work with the PRIDE foundation and TACS- we'll let you know how it goes!