Network Initiatives

Can a small, one-hour, monthly event impact a community to a greater understanding, awareness and appreciation of YAV's message, mission and work?
Project or Program Summary
Please provide a summary of the project/program as demonstrated in the case study: 
Based on Terry Axelrod's (founder of Beneton) approach of the "Point of Entry", our monthly "Whistle Stop" model combines invited guests including prospective artists, current and prosepective funders, community leaders, and administration to attend a one-hour, monthly, lunch-time event with light refreshments privided by Board Members. After a short welcome and opening explanation, the Executive Director explains YAV's work. A YAV artist then demonstrates their art and educational initiatives using the existing audience. Each staff member walks the attendees through their daily rouotines and challenges. Finally YAV concludes with a powerful story of our impact, achievements and successes in and through the arts.
Portfolio Purpose and Rational
Portfolio Purpose and Rationale: Why has this case study been submitted?: 
After years of attempting to tell our story and communciate our mission to funders, YAV decided to attract smaller numbers of attendees to a lunch-time event, once a month, in the YAV office. The purpose is to better communicate and spread our mission, message and our work in a more succint manner to friends, partners and potential funders. In Virginia, it's still about who you know, and many of our own supporters struggle to communicate our work. This format allows invited lists to attend an organized, scripted event with a strong opening, middle and close. A rotating host of Board Members leads each session, investing them further in the understanding our work. This is the platform we have been seeking to communicate our mission.
Overall Conclusions
What are your overall conclusions regarding the documentation gathered for this case study?: 
"Whistle Stop Tours" can make a powerful impression on a community. Having dialogue in a controlled environment with a variety of individuals, has had an impact on our communication as well as our "elevator pitch" and is evident by the returns of projects, fuunding and new Board Members, etc., for YAV. These events have brought us the community awareness we had hoped to achieve.
Assessment Conclusions
What conclusions have you drawn from the responses to the assessment tools you have developed?: 
No formal assessments were submitted. Our success is driven by personal responses and reactions. We have a strong supply of positive response emails and phone calls documenting appreciation from our attendees.
Answering the Inquiry Question
Back to the initial inquiry question, can it be answered?: 
Yes, the inquiry question can be answered by tracking the individuals that attended the sessions and determining how a relationship can be built either with the individual or with their contacts. Community recognition can be made through smaller venues.
Conclusions: What Was Learned
What was learned?: 
You only have to plant a seed to yield a harvest. It just takes a few passionate people to help spread the word about our work. The more key individuals brought to the table to tell the story in a controlled environment, the greater your chances for success in spreading the word and building community involvement and awareness.
Conclusions: What Can Be Done Differently In The Future
What can be done differently in the future?: 
We discovered we needed dynamic board members, comfortable in communicating the message and passionate about our work, to lead these sessions. We originally chose dynamic board Members to lead the early sessions and newer, more reserved Board Members were invited to watch, essentially creating a board member mentor program.
Conclusions: How Will This Inform The Work Moving Forward
How will this inform the work moving forward?: 
Plans to increase to communities beyond Hampton Roads and Roanoke are a challenge as we have no offices beyond those cities. Future Whistle Stops will be made through our partners, funders and schools. Plans are being made to train them on the format, the message and to adapt the script to their language so they can better communicate how YAV works in their communities.
Core Content Standards
21st Century Learning Skills
National Core Arts Standards

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