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Journal of Public Affairs Education

Transformational Service

Transformational Service and Action Learning common good” (see Appendix B). The usage of the words convene, collaborate, and contribute can easily be associated with the foundations of transformational service and action learning, where convene = reflection, collaborate = co-facilitation, and contribute = communication. Coupling these connections with the Koina Center’s (a) ability to reflect on present and future situations, (b) willingness to be inclusive, and (c) comfort level in sharing information signifies an astute self-awareness. The purpose of revisiting the first question on the FRO is not to ask organizations to change these statements, but to encourage an awareness on their part that impressions may be associated with the language they use to define their (a) ability to reflect on present and future situations, (b) willingness to be inclusive or exclusive, and (c) comfort level in communicating and sharing information with others. Main Problem or Challenge. When identifying the problems or challenges that an organization is facing, it is important to consider who is framing the problem, because not everyone “has an equal say in making interpretations count” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 1993, p. 40). According to the models of transformational service and action learning, the roles of constituent and client input (experience) should be as important as those of administrators (expertise). Upon reviewing the second question from the FRO, the team needs to determine whether clients and administrators are listening to one another; for only through dialogue are “equitable opportunities to speak” ensured for all interested parties (Eisenberg & Goodall, 1993, p. 41). The main problem or challenge confronting the Koina Center is twofold. Initially, the Koina Center needs to position itself as an alternative to other parochial instruction (e.g., Christian Reformed and Catholic) by its “reputation for excellent academic education as well as sound Lutheran doctrine,” which is supported by The Nation’s Report Card (see Appendix B). Additionally, the Koina Center is confronted with a lack of collaboration. Instead of employing one source to secure funds for the individual schools and congregations, each school has separately been approaching the same funding stream. By emphasizing reflective listening, the ensuing dialogue crystallizes the root problem or challenge for the Koina Center, which occurs “when many organizations are attempting to raise funds at the same time, it creates tension between organizations and amongst potential donors. There is a scarcity mentality that does not foster an atmosphere of working together” (see Appendix B). Proposed Solutions. This section of the FRO is concerned with the writing of objectives that result in measurable outcomes that are also cost effective. Due to the demand for transparency and accountability by public and private funders, organizations must ascertain new ways for providing services while still preserving relationships Journal of Public Affairs Education 33

Transformational Service and Action Learning while still preserving relationships where top-down decision making and problem solving no longer limit the possibilities of dialogue. Through the same distinctive ability to listen, the Koina Center has realized that its economic viability is based on focusing on “problem solving vs. gift getting by creating a collaborative environment not a competitive environment” (see Appendix B). In addition, the center is committed “to create a dedicated support organization that will serve as a fund development/stewardship resource to all Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) based education ministries in the greater Grand Rapids, MI area” (see Appendix B). In recognizing “the responsibility of stewarding community resources wisely and judiciously, adhering to the highest ethical standards,” and carrying “out a strategic grant making program that is flexible, visionary, and inclusive,” the Koina Center has established the basis for subsequent action (see Appendix B). All that remains is to translate these goals into measurable objectives and outcomes, a process that in itself is a wonderful chance for the entire team to learn and work together. Organizational Advantage. By taking the time to grasp the importance of what each public service entity contributes to the sustainability of civic engagement, the FRO asks members to consider why their organization is the best choice for fulfilling the community’s need, and if they have a track record to substantiate such claims. When considering newer organizations that have yet to develop a track record of measurable outcomes, consideration rests upon the recognition given to staff, donors, or community-wide connections and partnerships. When the Koina Center submitted its initial FRO, the organization had not yet attained its legal status as a public charity. Nonetheless, it had already established itself as a geographic center for West Michigan Lutherans and touted its commitment to “the growth of a permanent charitable endowment . . . to build a better community” (see Appendix B). The center hopes that inclusion of its work in academic presentations and articles will extend its recognition beyond the region to national funders and serve as a model for other institutions. In turn, the openness afforded by the executive director to students and myself as the teacher/facilitator is testament to the center’s long-term commitment to service learning. From these three areas, the organizational advantage of the Koina Center is still to be written. Fund Development or Business Plan. “The environments in which all organizations exist vary in both character and complexity” (Eisenberg & Goodall, 1993, p. 7). The difficulty arises when agencies fail to create a well-thought-out system for generating and sustaining financial resources. Therefore, organizations must ensure that all funding options (a) consider the long-term payoff and benefit to clients and constituents and (b) balance estimated expenditures with secured and anticipated revenues. 34 Journal of Public Affairs Education

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