OneStar Foundation—Leading Hundreds of Members and Staff in Reflective Discussion

OneStar Foundation is the Texas State Service Commission. OneStar connects partners and resources to build a stronger nonprofit sector in Texas.

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At OneStar Foundation, the organization’s, and thus the staff’s role is to manage AmeriCorps grants. So we’re a step back away from the direct service – the good work that AmeriCorps members are doing out there. So taking the time off the tedious paper work, the “boring stuff”, to talk about why we are doing what we are doing and rethinking why the administrative work is critical in the service world, is valuable.

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--OneStar Foundation Staff Member

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Civic reflection made me feel more connected to why I serve in AmeriCorps.

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--AmeriCorps Member, Texas

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As a facilitator, these discussions have helped me develop as a leader in a way in which I can easily communicate well with my colleagues, my service, and my desire to continue with my service.

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--AmeriCorps Group Facilitator, Texas

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I think [civic reflection] allowed me to solidify my values and beliefs. It helped me see other points of view rather than being stuck in my own thoughts. It helped me to be more open-minded. I also think it was one of the catalysts of continuing service another year and remaining committed to service in the future.

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--AmeriCorps Member, Texas

Audience Focus

Hundreds of AmeriCorps members and program staff throughout Texas

Goals

  1. Enhance the AmeriCorps member experience and provide space for members to more deeply reflect upon their choices and commitments
  2. Improve relationships and provide team-building opportunities for AmeriCorps members
  3. Positively impact member development by providing a tool that builds self-awareness about assumptions, motivation and impact
  4. Develop the leadership capacity of program staff to facilitate reflective discussions and effectively communicate with members
An AmeriCorps member and program staff member plan a discussion at the 2012 OneStar Foundation Training

Project Description

In 2009, the OneStar Foundation began a partnership with the Center for Civic Reflection. The first year of the partnership focused on giving Texas AmeriCorps program staff the opportunity to try out the practice of civic reflection. CCR trainers came to Texas to lead several facilitation trainings and provided consulting and coaching support. In 2010, OneStar aimed to build on its successful pilot year by creating a consistent, sustainable infrastructure for civic reflection as an ongoing part of service in Texas.

The 2010 year started with 9 AmeriCorps program staff attending an Advanced Train-the-Trainer workshop led by CCR, with the hope that these 9 staff members would lead their own civic reflection facilitation trainings moving forward. After the Train-the-Trainer Workshop, the trained program staff did just that -- helping CCR trainers to deliver a two-day custom facilitation training for 24 AmeriCorps program directors. Following this training, all staff members and program directors were asked to lead three reflective discussions with AmeriCorps members over the course of the program year -- nearly 100 discussions in total!

To support these efforts, CCR offered coaching and consulting throughout the program year, including monthly conference calls, quarterly newsletters with feedback for facilitators, suggested readings and resources, and sample discussion plans and questions. The OneStar Foundation made great strides in advocating for the practice of reflective dialogue in AmeriCorps programs across the state. AmeriCorps members throughout Texas engaged in discussions in English and Spanish, in small groups and large groups, in one-time discussions and in discussion series. CCR gained experience supporting large-scale programs like this one and is continuing to help OneStar strengthen the infrastructure for reflective dialogue in AmeriCorps programs throughout Texas in 2012-2013.

Impact

  1. Approximately 90% of AmeriCorps members reported strengthened connections with colleagues and peers.
  2. 74% of AmeriCorps members in discussion series reported better understanding the change they were trying to make.
  3. 60% of AmeriCorps members noted increased satisfaction with their service experiences as a result of participating in civic reflection discussions.
  4. 83% of facilitators indicated that civic reflection increased their desire to continue with service.
  5. 100% of facilitators reported that civic reflection discussions helped them to become leaders.
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